I am delighted to welcome Calum Kerr to my blog today in the first of what, I hope, will become many posts from guest bloggers. Cal is the director of National Flash Fiction day and has Lost Property, a new collection of some of his fabulous short stories out now from Cinder House and Amazon UK.
Let me hand over to the man himself to tell us a little about his love of horror and share one of his acutely observed and dark tales.
When I first started writing, or at least writing with an eye to publications, I was writing horror stories. Okay, so I was reading a lot of Stephen King, James Herbert, Shaun Hutson, Richard Laymon, Ramsay Campbell and even (I feel ashamed to admit now) Dean R. Koontz. I may have been influenced, but I did like me a bit of gore and nastiness.
And then… well, I grew up a bit, I widened my reading sphere, and my writing calmed down. But, something else happened, I think. That thing was education.
I took a degree in English and, not long after, followed up with an MA and a PhD in creative writing. And, somehow, I learned that horror was, well, shameful. In fact, I seemed, somewhere between the lines, to have been taught that genre fiction of any kind was ‘lesser’ fiction.
And so I set off to write the great literary novel. Read it, have you? Seen it on the shelves of your local bookshop? No, and I’ll tell you why not. Because it’s never been published. In fact, it’s never even been sent to a publisher. I wrote it – finished at just a hair under 100,000 words – but I just don’t feel it.
Then along came flash-fiction. I wrote a couple, then a bunch more, and then I went and wrote one every day for a year. In those 365 stories I ranged across genres – from sci-fi to historical, from love stories to crime, from literary to horror – and after a year I discovered an interesting thing. I LOVE writing dark and horrible stories!
And in relearning that love, I have also set myself free from a host of other constraints that I had somehow picked up. What flash-fiction has given to me is the freedom to do whatever I like, and to be as funny, as soppy, as sexy and – yes – as horrible as I like.
At the moment I’m working on a new novel. It will never be called ‘great literature’, not because it’s not well written – I like to think it is – but because too damn many people die in it in horribly inventive ways.
So, watch out for that. But, in the meantime, here’s one of those lovely, dark flash-fictions for you to enjoy.
By Calum Kerr
He picked up the pen which he had placed to the right of the paper, and started to write:
Things I No Longer Wish to Remember:
Everyone laughing when I wet myself in assembly.
Losing my money down a drain when it fell from my pocket when I ran for a bus.
The day my father hit my mother while I was eating tea.
Everyone laughing when I wet myself in the dinner queue.
Having to wear grey shorts to school for two days after my father set fire to my black ones.
My father hitting me after I wet the bed.
My first girlfriend dumping me.
Being dragged home after running away.
My mother’s face when I told her my exam results.
My father’s fist when my mother told him my exam results.
Finding my second girlfriend in bed with Thomas Chapman.
Hitting my father after he hit my mother while I was eating dinner.
My mother hitting me for hitting my father.
Finding my third girlfriend in bed with Thomas Chapman.
Hitting Thomas Chapman, and my third girlfriend.
My mother’s face on the day my father was found dead in the gutter.
My father’s funeral.
My wedding day.
My mother’s funeral.
Finding my wife in bed with Lee Hendicks.
Missing my wife’s funeral.
My first day in prison.
My second day in prison.
The next three and half thousand days.
My last day in prison.
My first day back in the world.
He put down the pen, picked up the knife and set about removing the offending memories.
[Previously published in http://www.microhorror.com/ July 20th, 2011]
Calum Kerr is a writer, editor, lecturer and director of National Flash-Fiction Day in the UK. He lives in Southampton with his wife – the writer, Kath Kerr – their son and a menagerie of animals. His new collection of flash-fictions, Lost Property, is now available from Cinder House: http://cinderhouse.com/product/lost-property-by-calum-kerr/