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Monday, 22 June 2020

DARK & DISCREET



Darkness lurks beneath London’s glittering surface… 

Announcing a new anthology about the shadier side of Britain’s capital, 
and the background to my part of it.

Although I’ve never lived in London and have only ever visited as a tourist, I still feel a strong affinity with the city.  My mother’s side of the family all came from London, so you could almost say it’s in my blood.

My contribution to this new anthology, a short story entitled A Discreet Distance, has a particular significance for me.  In its original form, it was one of my very early attempts at writing fiction.   

The initial idea for the story was inspired by a book I’d read when I was learning French at school: Le Grand Meaulnes, by Alain-Fournier – first published in 1913, a year before its 27-year-old author was killed during the first month of World War One.  The novel has been translated into English several times, with titles including The Wanderer, The Lost Domain and The Land of Lost Content, and is based partly on Fournier’s own experience of a lifetime search for a lost love.

The first version of A Discreet Distance appeared far longer ago than I care to remember.  It was extremely short, it contained no dialogue, and the characters didn’t even have names.  What kind of story is that, I hear you ask – and I would answer: What indeed?  But like the dog walking on its hind legs, at that stage in my writing career the miracle was not that it was done well, but that it was done at all.

Over the years the story has seen several expansions and revisions, including the introduction of dialogue, names for the two principal characters (David and Caroline), and a significant reworking of the ending.  But the one thing which has remained constant throughout is the setting: a chance encounter on a London Underground train.  David finds Caroline again after an absence of more than thirty years, but in a way he could never have imagined...

A previous version of the story was shortlisted for Story Tyne 2019, and its latest reincarnation has now found a home in Dark London.  This anthology, which contains a total of eighteen gripping stories spread over two volumes, is released on 25th June – that’s just three days away – and all proceeds from the sale will be donated to two London charities: The London Communities Foundation and Centrepoint. 

If you’re stuck indoors and looking for something to read, look no further.  Click here to buy Volume One and here to buy Volume Two.

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