Story Notes

Story Notes: How can we ever be better?

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I was so excited for my story ‘How can we ever be better?’ to be published in Flyleaf Journal. Flyleaf is a fantastic publication that pairs artists with writers to produce beautiful cover art for individual short stories. I was lucky and absolutely thrilled to be paired with talented artist/illustrator David Curtis who created a beautiful piece for the cover of my story!

To read the story just head on over to Flyleaf Journal and order a copy.

Because I love to know about the origins of a story from the writer’s perspective, I thought I would share some notes about this story with you.

Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers in the story notes below. So if you want to read the story with fresh eyes check it out first at Flyleaf Journal before reading the notes.

About ‘How can we ever be better?’

This story brewed in my head for a long time. I never write anything down because I’m of the mind that if a story sticks around in my mind, it’s good enough to write. ‘How can we ever be better?’ started with the idea of a thief who steals words. I thought about it for weeks, here and there while I washed the dishes or went for a walk, then finally I decided to sit down and write it. I love how the process of writing reveals things that you didn’t know were there. Sometimes I feel like thinking about the story is a conscious action but the writing itself is almost mystical, a subconscious process. What started out as a simple fairytale developed itself into a more complex allegory that I only half intended.

I have my own thoughts about the meaning and the message; a cautionary tale about not blindly following people who claim to provide higher knowledge (especially if that knowledge is shallow and insubstantial), a warning to always think critically, a metaphor for our humanity and how, despite thinking we are evolved, we are still just angry monkeys. But I also like to know what other people see in the story. That’s one of my favourite things about writing metaphor/allegory/fairytales—everyone always takes what they want from it and sees in it what they want to see.

I’ve read this and other fairytales at writing groups before then just sat back to listen as people tried to guess or invent their own meaning. Often when people ask me what it actually means I’ll shrug and say ‘I like all of your ideas’. Because often the metaphors get away from me or create themselves naturally and I can guess what they mean, but because my writing is sometimes a very subconscious effort your guess is as good as mine.

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Story Notes

Story Notes: Shine

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I was so pleased when my short story ‘Shine’ was recently published over at Empty Mirror, a wonderful publication for essays, art and prose with a soft spot for Beat Generation writers.

To read the story just head on over to Empty Mirror!

Because I love to know about the origins of a story from the writer’s perspective, I thought I would share some notes about this story with you.

Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers in the story notes below. So if you want to read the story with fresh eyes check it out first at Empty Mirror before reading the notes.

About ‘Shine’

Once I heard a story about Leonard Cohen’s muse for ‘Suzanne’ living in a trailer park. It wasn’t even true (find the true story of Suzanne here) but it made me think about muses and how they are often forgotten and left behind. As someone who loves to inspire I hold a special place in my heart for my sources of inspiration—whether it’s an orange blob on the sidewalk or an eccentric neighbour. I hold my muses as sacred.

I loved the idea of a muse in a trailer park, forgotten but still powerful, going through her endless cycle, filled with words and melodies that are never shared. I love the juxtaposition of gods and the sacred against the mundane and dilapidated.

So this is my ode to the muses who are lost and forgotten, who inspire then move on and never expect anything in return. The artist needs the muse just as the muse needs artists. Both are integral to the process in whatever form it takes.

Story Notes

Story Notes: Remembered in the soil

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My story ‘Remembered in the soil’ was recently published over at Purple Pig Lit, a fantastic webzine filled with surreal and fascinating prose and poetry.

To read the story just head on over to Purple Pig Lit!

Because I love to know about the origins of a story from the writer’s perspective, I thought I would share some notes about this story with you.

Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers in the story notes below. So if you want to read the story with fresh eyes check it out first at Purple Pig Lit before reading the notes.

About ‘Remembered in the soil’

I love the idea of nature speaking to us; coincidence and our pattern seeking minds coming together to form spiritual and meaningful ideas out of nothing.  This story came from a crack in the sidewalk by my house, a thing that I was sure had shifted since we first moved in a couple years ago.

It got me thinking about what the earth might say if it had the chance and the things that get left behind in the soil.  I’m currently reading about geology and geography, so this story has even more meaning to me now.  Imagine what we are walking on—who knows what’s buried right beneath our feet?

Nana’s story came out disturbing and alien despite it being related to the earth.  I think it’s fitting.  We live on the planet, we bury our dead in the soil and we feel an almost simian connection to the ground beneath us, but there is so much we don’t know about our surroundings and our origins.  We have so far to go in truly understanding our planet and so in a way it is alien to us.  But ultimately, as hostile and mysterious as it is, it is our home and it is the place (as Nana discovered) that has sheltered us for so many years and will continue to shelter us for so many more to come (we hope).

Story Notes

Story Notes: The Same

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My story ‘The Same’ was recently published in The Quilliad. I was so happy to be included in the publication and also to get the chance to read with some other fabulous writers at their Halloween launch party.

To read the story just head on over to The Quilliad and order a copy of the magazine!

Because I love to know about the origins of a story from the writer’s perspective, I thought I would share some notes about this story with you.

Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers in the story notes below. So if you want to read the story with fresh eyes check it out first at The Quilliad before reading the notes.

About ‘The Same’

At the reading I introduced The Same as an existential horror story inspired by the roving gangs of teenage girls who prowl the streets of my neighbourhood, and I would definitely stand by that description.

A funny thing happened at the reading of this story though, one of the other writers (also a fellow reader that evening) came up to me and told me she found my story to be very sympathetic (given the subject matter), and her words struck me.  I had never before considered my attitude towards my characters to be particularly sympathetic but once I thought about it I realized in a way, I am.

The Same is definitely meant as a comment on individuality (or lack thereof) and the trend these girls seem to follow of blending seamlessly into one another.  For me individuality has always been important, something to aspire to.  I’ve always wanted to stand out and trying to fit in (so much so that you find yourself look and talking the same as everyone else) has always been a mystery to me.  So what do I do with mysteries?  Write about them.  And the more I write about something or someone, the more I step into their shoes (or Uggs in this case).  I find myself (often unwittingly) creating sympathetic conditions for them and in the effort to get to know them in my story I find myself feeling as though I’ve gotten to know them in the real world.

I’ve done it before when writing about real world subjects; the woman in my building who talks to her dog, loudly and incessantly; the man asleep under a down comforter on the beach; the blob of orange goo on the sidewalk in Chinatown.  Once I write about a thing it becomes a part of me, I build a connection with it and in that connection I find a point of sympathy, or more accurately empathy.

Maybe if people wrote more about the things that confused them or even pissed them off we’d have a more sympathetic, understanding world.

Story Notes

Story Notes: ‘Of Gods and Curtains’

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My story ‘Of Gods and Curtains’ was published this week in Apeiron Review, a lovely magazine filled with fabulous prose, pictures and poetry. I was thrilled to be included in Issue 7.

To read the story just head on over to Apeiron Review and check it out!

Because I love to know about the origins of a story from the writer’s perspective, I thought I would share some notes about this story with you.

Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers in the story notes below. So if you want to read the story with fresh eyes check it out first at Apeiron Review before reading the notes.

About ‘Of Gods and Curtains’

We all have stories to tell and this is one of mine. It’s on repeat in my head as I struggle to find various ways to express it. Maybe to exorcise it. Maybe to simply see it from a new angle. It always comes out different, fictitious when I write it, but it’s always got that core of truth.


This is a story that’s hard for me to look in the eye. It came from the desire to have the story out in the open and blossomed with the line ‘Your Idols are crumbling, you have put them so high on their pedestals you can’t see the cracks.’

Sometimes all you need is a single thought to open up a wound.

People sometimes ask me why I feel the need to tell this story. Why I keep coming back to it over and over even though it’s hard and I think it’s mostly because I feel a responsibility to share my struggles with others so that they can know they’re not alone. I want people to know that there is help out there when you’re faltering, there are vets with golden rings who can help patch you up and help you make yourself whole. People who can help you see the sky.

I encourage anyone with a black river to seek help.

Another reason I keep returning to the story is because it scares me and the more something scares me the more I want to write it. Because if it means something to me, I think it might just mean something to someone else too.

Story Notes

Story Notes – Muriel & Ryan

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My story ‘Muriel & Ryan’ was published this week on Close to the Bone, Near to the Knuckle.  It’s a great site with some down and dirty stories and I was so happy to have my work published there!

To read the story just head on over to Close to the Bone and check it out!

Because I love to know about the origins of a story from the writer’s perspective, I thought I would share some notes about this story with you.

Spoiler Alert:  There are spoilers in the story notes below.  So if you want to read the story with fresh eyes check it out first at Close to the Bone before reading the notes.

About ‘Muriel & Ryan’

I wanted to explore the idea of hunting for a mate from a slightly different perspective.  Sometimes it’s seen as a game to people; just find the person who matches your criteria and dive in.  Sometimes it’s fast, rough and predatory.  For me it was.  I knew exactly what I was looking and in a way, like Muriel, I found myself merging to some degree with the person I ultimately chose.

I like Muriel because she knows what she wants and takes it, she’s in control and she’s world weary and bad ass.  I like Ryan because he’s kind of innocent, kind of stereotypical and kind of a dumb-ass—a lost soul just like all of us.

This is the first story I’ve tried with an internal monologue where the characters are narrating and talking to themselves.  It was a hard one to pull off because sometimes I felt it was a little forced, but I always like to try new things and in this case I’m glad I did!