My short story collection, Roxanne Riding Hood and Other Dubious Tales, is to be published on November 28th. The dubious tales bit refers to the fact that the content of a few of them might be said to be a little naughty; it isn’t, for example, necessarily the kind of book you would happily give your granny for Christmas (depending on your granny’s sense of humour, of course).
The lead story, Roxanne Riding Hood, is a touching tale of a drag artiste – ‘I’m a bona fide drag artiste, not a slap and mince karaoke queen, thank you very much’ – who is recruited by the local police to help them catch a sex attacker after they see him dealing very comfortably with a couple of aggressive boys outside his club one night. His method of trapping the attacker is very professional, and as the story unfolds, we discover more and more interesting details about his life and times.
Next up, Ambience, takes us to the Cute Cuisine Restaurant on the High Street on Saturday night, where the lady in charge, tough, worldly Phyllis, rules her establishment with as much of a rod of iron as she dares, without losing her temperamental and rather alcoholically-inclined chef Joel. Her customers for the night include a fiftieth birthday celebration with the celebrant determined to make the most of it – ‘if he carries on banging down that Malbec like it’s orange juice, I wouldn’t give good odds on him making it to his sixtieth’. There is also a diamond wedding anniversary dinner and a young man about to propose to his intended wife – ‘She startles everyone by leaping to her feet, and I’m thinking he’s been up to no good under the table’. Alone again at the end of the evening, Phyllis reflects on how she got to where she is.
Home Movies begins with the narrator, a young man not far from his A level exams, complaining about his uncle constantly referring to his schooldays as the happiest days of his life. ‘As Uncle Malcolm is loaded enough to paper the walls, you can’t help thinking his schooldays really must have been something else, Bermuda Dream Academy, maybe, with a lagoon for a school pool and kids hula-hooping around the school gates’.
Bored with revision, Mark takes his little camera around the garden where the family are entertaining themselves in various ways, including his sister Kate and his brother Sam’s ‘Intended’, Maddy. ‘Maddy’s Ma and Pa think Sam and Maddy are keeping themselves “chaste” before marriage. Maddy’s chased all right, down to the place near the riverbank where they don’t know I know they go’. Encounters with his parents, his younger brother Phil eventually, his faithful dog Duke, take up the summer afternoon.
All the three opening stories have won prizes or commendations in competition, and they suitably set the tone for the collection. More in a few days.