Hip To Be Square

I think it was Louis Hewis who first said that. Or was it Huey Lewis? Anyway I’ve got some News too. My new chapbook of short stories and flash fiction is out now from Thunderclap Press, which is based in New Jersey. The cast of characters in Blurred Girl and Other Suggestive Stories includes a voyeuristic commuter, a lottery winner, Mona and Lisa, a scriptwriter having a haircut, a jealous basketball player, a couple of ‘space cadets’ who get an unwelcome visitor, a book thief, an unlikely Dusty Springfield fan, a steward at a fitba match, Franz Beckenbauer’s ex-gardener and some members of a sect.

Thanks to Amanda Deo at Thunderclap Press. She has been very patient and hasn’t complained at all, even coming up with a design for a bus on page 12 after I suggested this. Thankfully, I do have clear ideas about some things folks, and I was given free rein with the contents and the cover design. I don’t think many who know me well would think I was a perfectionist or a particularly fussy person, but maybe I save those traits for my writing. I like it to be spot on.

I’m really grateful that Amanda has been brave enough to publish my work the way it was intended it to be. I wasn’t asked once to compromise my use of Scots words. That came as a pleasant surprise, I must say, particularly with an overseas publisher. At first I thought I might be asked to provide an English translation for Unlovable Jambo. Instead she kindly described the story as “having some of the best use of Scottish language I have ever read” – and she does have a Scottish family background to back up her statement.

Even Dusty Springfield has some ‘odd’ words. Curiously, another North American, Mikael Covey at Lit Up Magazine also had the courage to publish this without compromise. I don’t imagine that words like neb (nose), and shanx (steal) are very current over there. In fact, I’m not sure the latter is even used outside of the area where I grew up. Let me know if it is. So here’s to them and to finding more editors in that vein.

But the vast majority of Blurred Girl and Other Suggestive Stories is written in an English which will be recognisable wherever you’re from – you won’t need a Scots dictionary by your side I promise! I should maybe tell you one other thing in case you don’t know it… A Jambo is a fan of Heart of Midlothian FC, and they are not very popular in the stadium where Unlovable Jambo is set.

You can download the PDF if you like but there’s a tidy and singular paperback edition, which will stand out among your books – it’s square and roughly 19 X 19 cm. Huey, Louis or whatever he called himself wasn’t wrong, was he?



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