Archive for December, 2013

My short story, ‘The Siege’ is now available to read in the fantastic new issue of the zine Spry. You can read it online here: http://www.sprylit.com/fiction/the-siege/

Merry Christmas to one and all!

Spry Screenprint

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Check out the full range of titles on the dedicated AJ Kirby page on Amazon here.

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41PUi0d7CEL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-65,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Triskaidekaphobia – the fear of the number 13…

Some scaredy cats won’t be leaving their houses today. They won’t be getting behind the wheels of their cars, and they certainly won’t be walking past any black cats. What’s more, they won’t be entering any graveyards, nor will they be risking passing by any plate glass windows… They’ll have the fear…

If you’re one of those people scared by the myths, speculations (and truths) of Friday 13th, and you’re stuck in the house all day – hell, even if you’re not – then why not try wrapping your eyes around one of my horror specials, available from Amazon?

Do you dare take on my horror shorts collection, Trickier and Treatier?

Could you risk facing down the terrifying creature in Paint this town Red?

Do you have the guts to crack the spine of The Black Book?

Can you stomach the trial by fire which is The Haunting of Annie Nicol?

Dare you enter the Sharkways?

Or can you hack a supernatural tale of revenge from beyond the grave in Bully?

My new, gritty short story, ‘Coffin Cut’, has been dug up, dusted off, and given a bit of a clean, then published by Mudjob zine. You can read the story here: http://mudjob.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/a-j-kirby.html

Mudjob Screenprint

And here’s a brief extract: “Every morning, Mark Nipple was up before the alarm. A quick shower and then a hurried breakfast. A tall glass of juice. A couple slices of dry toast. He no longer took an egg, fried or otherwise. Cholesterol.
Before he left, he’d shout up to his son, Aubrey, and he wouldn’t step out the door until Aube responded. Aube was nineteen: pretty much a vampire. Mark had an irresistible urge to force the kid to encounter daylight. Which was some kind of ironic because it was exactly what Mark’s dad had wanted for him, when Mark was the nineteen year old with dreams of making it as a musician, burning the candle low at one end in the low-rent bars and back-street clubs of Maine. Only, his dad hadn’t made do with a simple shout. No, he’d thundered up to Mark’s room and physically dragged him out his pit. “

awardI’ll admit it. I’m a bit of a weirdo when it comes to charts and lists. I love categorising and compartmentalising, finding a place for everything and everything in its place.  This mental tic, this odd OCD, has started to bleed into my writing and reviewing. Five years ago, I started to put together a chart of the best short fiction I’d read over the course of that year. For want of something better to call it, I dubbed it The Andy Awards (or the Andys for short.)

Now, four years later, the Andys are still going strong. And though they’re not exactly the short fiction Oscars, and though this ‘opening ceremony’ hasn’t been rigged-up by Danny Boyle, I do think there’s some great recommendations of short fictions, new authors and indie magazines which will give readers a few new tastes they might otherwise not have experienced.

And this is important. Short Fiction doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. There is only one dedicated short fiction reviewing site in the world – The Short Review. Arts Council grants are being cut back and indie magazines are struggling. Short story writers are not getting the financial recompense they deserve, let alone the readership. And that’s why I continue to persevere with this list every year.

Strength to Strength

The first year I ran the competition was 2009. That year, the winner was David Conyers, for his story ‘Black Water’, which featured in Jupiter SF magazine. Second place went to ‘The Lion’s Den’, by Steve Duffy, from the Nemonymous anthology, Cern Zoo. And third place was awarded to Rachel Kendall’s ‘Birth Control’, from her collection The Bride Stripped Bare.

In 2010, despite wide-spread industry shoulder-shrugs, the Andys continued. This time, gold was carried off by Wayne Price, whose story ‘The Golfers’ starred in The Route Book at Bedtime. Wells Tower received the silver medal for ‘Executors of Important Energies’, in the chess-fiction anthology, Masters of Technique. And the bronze was draped around the neck of Tania Hershman for her story, ‘Sunspots’, from her collection The White Road and Other Stories. You can read the full chart here. 2010 also saw the addition of a supplementary category, Flash Fiction, and the inaugural award was carried off by Valerie O’ Riordan’s ‘Mum’s the Word’, in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Vol. 3. Indeed Valerie’s story was so good, it practically demanded its own category, and maybe in the coming years, when we see an Andy of Andys (similar to the Booker of Bookers which was won by Rushdie) we may see this story carrying off the biggest award of the lot. No mean feat for a story of much less than a thousand words.

2011 saw the Andys going global. This was a glitzier, whole shebangier award show. I rolled out a red carpet in my front room and drank champers and smoked cigars, and hammered the whole chart out on my blog on my website. The publication of the list was met with shock and awe, dudes, shock and awe. Last year’s winner was the story ‘Great Rock and Roll Pauses’ by Jennifer Egan, from her Pulitzer Prize winning collection A Visit from the Goon Squad. I am still unsure whether Jennifer was prouder of her Andy, or her Pulitzer. By a hare’s breadth, in second place was ‘The Rediscovery of Death’ by Mike O’Driscoll, which featured in the Des Lewis edited The Horror Anthology of Horror Anthologies. And in third (and by no means was third the worst, just as second was not the best, and first did not have a hairy chest) was ‘Peacekeeper’ by Alan Heathcock, in his collection, Volt. Last year, I also continued with the Flash Fiction category, and again, there was only one choice for the winner: David Gaffney. So good is Gaffney at flashing (ummm) I could have chosen any one of his collection, The Half-Life of Songs, but ‘Live Feed’ eventually won out, after some schizophrenic deliberation from your one-man judging team.

2012 was, of course, famous for the Olympics in London, but in time it will also be remembered for the sheer scale of the Andy Awards, which went stratospheric. You could see the show from space. It received INCREDIBLE publicity on social media and on TV. It was, quite literally, the biggest event ever. The top three in terms of FLASH FICTION were, at 3, ‘OMG U Guyz’ by Christy Leigh Stewart, in the Terror Scribes anthology; at 2, ‘Leap Second, Emendations and Errata’ by Renoir Gaither, in Lucid: A Collection of Experimental Flash Fiction, and carrying off the award for the second year running David Gaffney, whose story ‘Don’t Be Rough’ featured in Beautiful Scruffiness 4. And there was an all-female top three in my short fiction category. In third place was ‘The Discord of Being’ by Alison J Littlewood, from the Where are we Going? Anthology, ed. Allen Ashley; in second place was ‘Philanthropy’ by Suzanne Rivecca, in Granta 120: Medicine; and first place was ‘Fringe’ by Jen Campbell, in ShortFICTION 5.

And So, Without Further Ado…

Billy Crystal’s done his whittering on and Ricky Gervais has made some ill-advised gibe, and now we have the drum roll as we prepare for the first award category in this evening’s show… This year I’ve flim-flammed with the rules again, so there’s no separate category for Flash Fiction…

The Andy Award for Short Fiction 2013

20. ‘Watching Emily Dress’ by Gary Budgen, in Sein und Werden Not Quite Human issue

19. ‘Disappearing into the World’ by Ágúst Borgþór Sverrisson, in Twice in a Lifetime

18. ‘A Sweet Shop in the West End’ by Ágúst Borgþór Sverrisson, in Twice in a Lifetime

17. ‘Wild Strawberries and Moonlight’ by Charles Haddox, in The Germ Magazine August 2013

16. ‘Flight’ by Tony Lovell, in Wordland 3: What they Saw in the Sky

15. ‘Lord of Pigs’ by DeAnna Knippling, in Horror Without Victims, ed. Des Lewis

14. ‘Tea at the Midland’ by David Constantine, in Tea at the Midland and Other Stories

13. ‘Valdir Peres, Juanito and Poloskei’ by Antonio Peres, in Granta 121: The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists

12. ‘Vent’ by L.R. Bonehill, in Horror Without Victims, ed. Des Lewis

11. ‘The First Day of the Fourth Week’ by Ágúst Borgþór Sverrisson, in Twice in a Lifetime

10. ‘351073’ by Jeff Gardiner, in A Glimpse of the Numinous

9. ‘Like Nothing Else’ by Christopher Morris, in Horror Without Victims, ed. Des Lewis

8. ‘Alphonse’ by David Constantine, in Tea at the Midland and Other Stories

7. ‘The End of Endings’ by Steven Hall, in Granta 123: 20 Best British Novelists Under 40

6. ‘A Brief History of Fire’ by Jennifer Vanderbes, in Granta 122: Betrayal

5. ‘Underland’ by Robert Macfarlane, in Granta 124: Travel

4. ‘An Island’ by David Constantine, in Tea at the Midland and Other Stories

3. ‘Crow Fair’ by Thomas McGuane, in Granta 125: After the War

2. ‘The Man at the River’ by Dave Eggers, in Granta 124: Travel

1. ‘Deep’ by Richard Smyth, in LS13 – 20 Best Authors in Leeds Under 40, ed. Wes Brown 

 

screenprintThe Contributor Spotlight shone on me recently as I was profiled following my role in the publication of ‘Forging Freedom’, an anthology from Freedom Forge Press. You can read my interview here: http://www.freedomforgepress.com/2013/10/07/contributor-spotlight-a-j-kirby/

And you can get hold of a copy of the anthology here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F72SXIM/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

And here’s a short review from Amazon: “Inspiring stories of courage, values and integrity. Concise stories of our past, present and future. Important for all of us to remember how these freedoms are hard won.”

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My story, ‘The Kings of the Swingers’ has today been published on the Roar and Thunder magazine website. You can read the story for free here: http://roarandthunder.com.au/2013/the-kings-of-the-swingers/

And here’s an excerpt:

“It’s not like we doing it for attention. But we do kind of make a show of it; build up the tension and that.

We limber up like. Do us stretches. Yank off us tees so we just in our playtime scrubs: thick trackie bottoms, socks pulled up over the ‘lastic bit at the bottom; Nike Airs. Come out swinging like we about to fight, or fuck, or just jump in canal.

All of us have wiry bodies. Knotted muscles. Shaven heads. Some of us have tatts. They’re prison-ink style like the ones some of our dads have – those of them who’re still around. The Ding has a great big one on his back of a cartoon man covering up his cartoon mouth with his cartoon hand because he was always getting told to shut the hell up at school and at home and pretty much everywhere he went. Now though he does his talking with his feet, with his legs. He’s one of the best of us and he’s definitely the best showman and you get the impression he likes all this crap before we get into what we get into. Manny has one which says JUNGLIST MASSIVE on his pecs above his heart. A right noisy tattoo that one. I had one too and it was supposed to be like a copy of that but it hurt like twatbags and the tattoo-feller took beards of time over it so in the end I had the slow bastard stop when he’d just writ JUNG which is a bit shit especially when I scratched at the writing too much and made all the colours run. Manny won’t let none of them say nowt about it though and he put his arm on my shoulder once and said JUNG’s a good tatt anyway on account of Jung was a Swiss psychology-feller who knew all about dreams and that, and I was a dreamer.”