Well, I’m now a published author. In real life. I have a silly bio line and everything.
Honestly, I feel there’s no way I could have done this without the help of my coursemates and tutors at the UEA. Without them, I’d still be a grumpy teenager sat writing weird fiction in my bedroom. Now, I’m a slightly-less-grumpy adult sat writing weird fiction in my bedroom.
You can read their wonderful stories in Undergrowth, now available to buy from Eggbox Publishing. I’ve included a short excerpt from my own story, ‘Rat Man’, below, just to sweeten the deal.
The stink of grime and oil and sweat rose up from the depths of the station. It weaved its way through the crowd and settled on their clothes, their hair, their skin. Emily sniffed her sleeve.
“Dad,” she said, tugging on the coat of the tall man stood next to her. “It smells.” Her father clutched her shoulder.
“That’s the smell of the trains, love. The engine oil.” He looked around, and checked his watch.
Emily wrinkled her nose. The trains at home didn’t smell this bad. There was a rumble from somewhere deep below her feet, as though some hungry beast was waiting to swallow her up. She buried her face in her father’s coat. It smelt of perfume. Emily’s stomach bubbled and she crossed her arms.
“Dad, the smell makes me sick,” she said, her words muffled by the thick black felt. Her mother never used to wear perfume.
“You think this smell is bad?” Her Dad chuckled, as he reached down and scooped Emily up into his arms. “A long long time ago, this station was a sewer.”
“Is that why there’s wee on the wall?” Emily said, and pointed across the hall. A man was sat beside the stain. His legs were crossed and there was a battered old brown hat on the floor next to him. The man had an even bigger hat on his head that cast a shadow over his whole face. Emily turned back around.
“Dad, that man has two hats,” she said, as she played with the toggles on the backpack. “One has money in it.”
“Good for him,” Her father said. He slid two bright orange tickets – one for him, one for Emily – into the machine, and carried her through. Emily watched over his shoulder as the man with two hats gathered up his things. He delved into the hat and pulled out a shiny new pound coin. He held it up to his face with a long, bony hand and sniffed at it suspiciously. Emily blinked. The man had a terribly odd looking hand. It had four long fingers. Emily squinted. The fingers looked almost… furry.