Quay Voices, available now

Quay Voices book in front of some purple scabiosa flowers

I’ve a short story, Crossroads, in the first volume of Quay Voices. It’s available now from Impress Books. It also includes writing by Ray Antrobus, Patrick Gale and Monique Roffey as well a heap of other new writers. All brought together into this one volume by Helen Chaloner.

Crossroads started as a writing exercise using Start With This’s random number generator tip to create prompts. That was whilst I was in the Hebrides in October 2019. I drafted something vaguely post-apocalyptical because I like a little post-apocalyptic background: I blame living through the Cold War and reading Z for Zachariah too many times.

I joined the Virginia Baily writing course, part of the Quay Words programme at Exeter’s Custom House in February 2020. She asked us to do some character building, using something we’d already been working on. I dug out Crossroads and worked on developing the backgrounds of the main people. I used almost none of this in the story itself but it transformed how they thought and acted. Virginia pushed me to work on dialogue too. When the pandemic started really locking us down, the course shuttered. Through some brilliant efforts by Literature Works and Quay Words, we were able to continue online.

A screenshot of the start of the story. Text reads: Crossroads. Mags Halliday. There's a woman stood just inside the door to the bar, backlit by the low sun. Her dark jeans are pale with dust.

I am absolutely thrilled that Virginia recommended my work be included in Quay Voices, and that she specifically asked for this story. I’ve a decent backlist of shared-universe writing, but I’ve wanted to show I can develop own universe fiction too.

If you are based in the South West, I’d recommend signing up for the updates from Literature Works – the body that supports the Quay Words programme. With Exeter now a UNESCO City of Literature, the programme is working hard to bring more voices to a wider audience.

Now to settle in and read the rest of the collection!


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