Born and raised in the mystical wastelands of northern England amongst harpies and dragons, Harper now lives in the sultry, sweaty southern United States with his Dixie wife, fighting off the giant spiders and man-eating vultures. He has work published or about to be published in four continents and can't wait to hit that dark, mysterious fifth. He has fallen off a boat, been hit by two cars, literally been scared of his own shadow, and traveled in an elevator with Kirsten Dunst. Favourite things include the writings of JG Ballard, the music of (the) Pixies, Scapa Flow, tiramisu, winter coats, and microbrews. If you ever read anything he is responsible for he just hopes you enjoy it.
More info at: http://harperhull.weebly.com/index.html
Readers! Sometimes it can be refreshing to take a break from your usual reading material of choice and swim out into unknown waters, as you surely know. Too much of a good thing can warp your mind without you even noticing the change. As a young lad, I went through a heavy fantasy phase and was convinced there were strange creatures living under our shed and that one day I'd climb the neighbor's fence to retrieve a ball and fall into some strange, faraway land. After a long trawl through a selection of classic horror novels I will be positive that everyone on our street is up to no good in their basements with butchers tools or demonically enchanted wheelbarrows and that the back bedroom is haunted (it actually may be.) Switching it up with some complex political drama, modern western or a surrealist dark comedy can be just the tonic for an overindulged mind.
I think the same can be said of amateur writers. If you find yourself bogged down in the flotsam and jetsam of that 250K word sci-fi epic and are temporarily sick of creating new flora and fauna for your incredibly detailed new world where every character has a rich back story going back to their (probably traumatic) birth, push it aside for a wee while and let your imagination stretch a bit with something a little bit different...
One of my favourite places for both the quality of the stories and of the production is Tales of Old. http://www.talesofold.org/
Every few days a new tale goes up, being either historical fiction or alternate history. In the last month alone, there have been adventures set in Ancient Rome, World War 1, Elizabethan England, post-revolutionary Russia, and conquistador era South America. Real swashbuckling stuff and a great listen.
How about not only having your story recorded but also performed? I give you Liar's League, http://liarsleague.typepad.com/ a cool and contemporary group based in London whose motto is 'Writers write. Actors read. Audience listens. Everybody wins.' Every month they host a night of 'live fiction' where professional actors read stories to an eager crowd of lit fans. You don't have to be near London to take part, the League accepts stories from anywhere, and you can watch the video of the event online from the comfort of your armchair. I had a friend go along to an event last year to hear one of his stories done and he had a blast. Every month is a different theme, by the way, so check their website for details.
Looking for something more unique? There are some very unusual venues out there, as I discovered last year when I stumbled upon a place where they would print stories on large paper placemats and put them out on tables in Californian coffee shops. Alas, that venture seems to have disappeared, and I imagine a lot of these ideas can be fleeting in execution. However, they're always worth a look and will usually put a smile on your face or, even better, make you think really hard for a moment or two.
My current favourite is The Safety Pin Review http://safetypinreview.wordpress.com/ where, if you can express yourself in 30 words to the host's delight, he will wear your super-flash-fiction on the back of his leather jacket and walk around in public as people's reactions are captured on film. The stuff that Simon Safety Pin chooses to wear is, quite honestly, brilliant prose and I am delighted every time a new issue appears. The current fashionable fiction is called 'High Five' by Brian Hurley and goes 'Everything below our wrists should explode in a bloody pulp, spattering our faces with a fine red mist as we writhe in astonishment and clutch our mutilated stumps. Ready?'
Talking of fashionable fiction, I have to mention Fix It Broken, http://www.fixitbroken.com/index.html an online literary magazine run by a fine fellow named Greg. Again, the quality of the work on display here is very high and you won't be disappointed; at least one of the half dozen or so short stories each issue will thrill you in some way. The twist here is that every issue the lead story is made into a t-shirt - some very talented artists create a design inspired by the prose and a super-cool lit-shirt is born. I was lucky enough to be the first ever t-shirt story at FIB and have the garment hanging proudly in my closet. One day I think I'll frame it like a sports shirt.
Probably the most aesthetically pleasing place your work could end up is at the English magazine Fuselit. http://fuselit.co.uk/index.html They are another themed publication and accept flash fiction and poetry. The standard is high and the publication itself is a thing of beauty, an absolute marvel of design and creativity. The current issue 'Jack' is printed on pumpkin paper with a colorful foldout cover. It also includes a bonus mini mag 'Hijacks' and a CD. The previous issue was created with handmade paper from Bhutan and had a cutout game on the front cover. The one before that was hand-stitched with white thread and had individually painted covers with a tracing paper overlay. Fuselit is art in both content and appearance; I feel I'm not doing them justice with my very matter of hand descriptions. Please, check their site and see for yourself!
Finally, let me point you towards a brand new wordy thing called Fender Stitch. http://fenderstitch.com/
They had their first issue go live on October 29th so I can't give you any ratings of the work (as the date as of writing this piece is October 27th) but I was excited enough by their blurb to include them in here.
I quote - 'Fender Stitch is an online review of short fiction that publishes the most entertaining short stories we can get our grubby little paws on. Two stories are published each month, and each story is Fender Stitched into a full multimedia experience. Because, as it turns out, we want to entertain you without exhausting or boring you. So sit back with a hot cup of Joe, a glass of wine, or whatever floats your boat; and enjoy what we have to offer.'
Sounds cool right?
Sounds cool right?