A short story – The Tempered Lake

The Tempered Lake by Judy DarleyMy short story The Tempered Lake has been published as part of Ayaskala‘s beautiful March 2020 issue. Based in India, the online publication led by editor-in-chief Vaishnavi Sharma has a focus on mental health. As a writer with a preoccupation for the fallibilities of the human mind, I’m thrilled to have my story featured.

The Tempered Lake is part of my novel-in-progress Lake Glas, which explores a sister’s growing obsession with her brother, who removed himself from her life when she prevented him making a dangerous decision.

If you fancy a read, you can buy and download Ayaskala’s March 2020 digital issue here. It’s packed full of inspiring and moving writing and art.

Short story – Enduring Night

Iceland by Judy DarleyI’m utterly delighted that my short story Enduring Night, inspired by a visit to Iceland, is feeding the wonderful, eternally ravenous The Cabinet of Heed. It has taken up residence in Issue Twenty-Nine, out now.

Enduring Night is a love story that may not be a love story, set against the elemental beauty of Iceland in the snow.

It begins with a moment of anticipation, which I wrote before I actually visited Iceland, and long before the rest of the tale took shape.

I haven’t been here yet, but this is what I imagine it will be like. Dark as ink from waking till sleeping, with an occasional reprieve when the sun lifts its lead-heavy head. Fissures of aurora borealis dancing above bare-branched trees as ice crystallises in the air. Eyeballs rolling in the fight not to freeze; skin tightening; breath blooming like fog.

Read Enduring Night in full.

Enduring Night

Short story – Stealing from Windowsills

Laugharne Castle tower interior by Judy DarleyMy short story Stealing from Windowsills, which I wrote at the Flash Fiction Festival 2019 has been published by the marvellous Thin Air magazine. Based on a traditional fairytale, the story began life in a flash workshop at 2019, but swiftly outgrew the form.

Likewise, my character Zel has, I believe, outgrown her inspiration.

Here’s Zel, introducing herself from her tower room:

My mirror shows me my imperfection – my wide nose as dappled as a hooded crow’s egg rather than grandly hooked like Mother’s; my eyes large and dark, unlike Mother’s fine bloodshot glints.

My wild, long hair is almost a separate creature. I pretend it is a pet, one that purrs, neighs, and, on rare instances, bites. I bunch, braid and tint it sea-dragon green with the ivy and other plants that shimmy up the stonework to meet me.

You can read the full story here.

My new role as flash fiction editor at Reflex Press

Sears Tower bird by Judy DarleyI’m excited to share the news that I’ve been appointed Flash Fiction Editor at Reflex Press.

I’ll be managing all the flash fiction submissions submitted for publication on the publishing house’s website. I’ve already received some fantastic submissions and am eagerly anticipating plenty of other mini masterpieces!

I want to read work that moves me, startles me, and, most of all, makes me think: ‘Wish I’d written that!’ A skilful flash fiction writer can condense a whole novel into a paragraph, and leave you feeling you’ve absorbed a whole novel in a few moments. I’m hoping to discover entire worlds coiled into a few carefully chosen words.

Find full details here: https://www.reflex.press/introducing-our-new-flash-fiction-editor-judy-darley/ 

Leavings

Hot Water by Judy DarleyMy eco-story ‘Leavings’ is live on today on paragraphplanet.com. And yes, that is a photo of a dribble of hot water on our kitchen countertop, pretending to be a planet. Read the 75-word story to find out why.

I’m afraid it’s less CliFi (Climate Fiction), than an entirely true tale.

The story will only be on the site for one day before it disappears, so it really is a blink and miss it situation, which feels dauntingly apt. The tale will eventually, however appear in the Archive section, unlike our planet… Just choose December 30th to read it.

A flash fiction – Going Coastal

Seahorse by Judy DarleyIn June I spent a glorious weekend helping out at the Flash Festival at Trinity College near Bristol. I attended as many of the workshops as I could and found myself utterly inspired! Vanessa Gebbie’s workshop ‘The Wierd and Wonderful World of Flash Fiction’ generated zillions of ideas, one of which began with a seahorse and bloomed into my 250-word micro tale Going Coastal.

Here are the opening lines:

Bernadette looked at the seahorse bobbing in its jar of saltwater. It blinked at her through the thick bevelled glass. She thought it seemed depressed.”

I’m delighted to see it published in the Flash Fiction Festival Three anthology, where it jostles happily alongside 81 other micros, including works by some of the flash fiction universe’s luminaries, not least Vanessa herself, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Carrie Etter, Karen Jones, Santino Prinzi and Peter Wortsman, plus a whole exceptional horde of others!

Can’t wait for next year’s Flash Fiction Festival – tickets are available here. The anthology is published by Ad Hoc Fiction and available to buy here.

In the meantime, this is what I’ll be reading:

Flash Fiction Festival Three

A short story – Simmer and Steep

Painted doorway by Judy DarleyI’m chuffed to pieces that my short story Simmer and Steep has been selected for Liars’ League Hong Kong’s Exits & Entrances themed event.

My story was inspired by the drawn doorway shown above, and is about finding your own exits and entrances to embrace the life (and perhaps the person) you want.

“I passed the door on my way to work, and each day the sight of it lit a smile within me. I felt it was shouting what none of us dared say – that most of what we did was filler while we waited for something real to come along.”

In case you weren’t aware, Liars League is an event that matches short fiction to actors, celebrating the spoken word while giving it some thespian panache! Their tagline is Writers Write. Actors Read. Audience Listens. Everybody Wins. There are regular events in various locations around the world.

Liars’ League Hong Kong’s Exits & Entrances themed event takes place on Monday 9th December 2019 at 8pm at Terrible Baby, Eaton Hotel Hong Kong. Find full details here.

You can watch actor Frances Chen perform my story Simmer and Steep here: https://liarsleaguehk.com/2020/01/21/simmer-and-steep-by-judy-darley-read-by-frances-chen/

An evening of flash fiction

Rose chafer by Judy DarleyI’m excited to be sharing some of my tiniest tales at Flash Fiction, an event on Tuesday 3rd December.

Hosted by author and Flash Fiction Festival queen Jude Higgins, the event at Bishopston Library in Bristol features KM Elkes, Alison Woodhouse, John Wheway and me.

You can find out more and buy tickets (a bargain at just £3 each!) here.

Jude has invited me to read a handful of fairytales, so I plan to open with Invertebrates, my follow-up to the Hansel and Gretel story, from my short story collection Sky Light Rain. It focuses on an unusual dinner party where the guests include an assortment of creepy crawlies, hence the picture at the top of this post.

As far as I’m aware, no beetles will be in attendance at Bishopston Library…

Fiction on the radio – Fascinate

Slimbridge by Judy DarleyMy story ‘Fascinate’ aired on Adam Crowther‘s BBC Upload radio show on Thursday 7th December at around eleven past seven. It’s one of the shorter, stranger tales in my new short story collection Sky Light Rain.

Adam describes it as being about “an unusual use for animals.”

This image above hints at the story’s last line…

It’s available to listen to for 23 more days. Listen in here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07r0g2b 

A short story – What We Talk About When We Talk About Owls

Egg by Judy DarleyI’m so pleased to have my story ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Owls‘ published in Retreat West‘s Charity Anthology 2019, titled No Good Deed. It’s raising funds to support Indigo Volunteers. This brilliant charity matches willing volunteers with humanitarian projects across the globe.

The photo above is a clue to a pivotal incident in the tale. And no, that’s not the moon.

No Good DeedMy story was inspired by the way discussions can skirt around the real issues within a family, so that the crucial point can be ignored in favour of chewing over less relevant or, frankly, more surreal topics.

It began in my mind as an image very like the one above, being gawped at by two sisters. As I allowed the characters to chat, I realised how little we know of what happens in other people’s relationships, even those where we’re closely related to one of the parties.

In this case the key subject is not really owls at all, although one particular species does feature, as you’ll see in the taster lines below.

“That’s a tawny owl egg,” Sammy declares, holding up the egg identification chart I gave her at Easter. “Did you know tawny owls are ferociously defensive of their young? If it’s just been laid it’ll hatch in 30 days.
Can I have it?”

“No!” My sister’s voice is so loud that my niece and I both jump. “Sammy, go and play, will you? I need to speak to your aunt.”

Buy your copy of the No Good Deed anthology here.