Archive | Claire Massey RSS feed for this section

‘Still’ | Shortlisted for Saboteur Indy Lit Award

Still is shortlisted in the Saboteur Indy Lit Awards for Best Mixed Anthology. Congratulations to all the talented Still writers and many thanks to everyone who has been so supportive of the book.

Readers are invited to vote for the book, details at Saboteur Shortlist

Comments { 0 }

David Hebblethwaite’s story-by-story review of ‘Still’

DAVID HEBBLETHEWAITE is a renowned book blogger from Yorkshire, who reviews both novels and short fiction on his blog Follow the Thread. He also writes reviews for The Huffington PostStrange HorizonsWe Love This Book and Fiction Uncovered. He’s a big supporter of the short story format and since the end of September, he has reviewed every story that appears in Still – in chronological order. We’ve listed a brief excerpt from each individual review below, or you can read the full reviews here.

Foyles, Charing Cross Road, Still in Anthologies

‘Still’ on sale at Foyles

And the ending is a real shock to the system. ‘Midnight Hollow’ – Mark Piggott

But, for those four pages, the author convinces you it’s all true. ‘My Wife, The Hyena’ – Nina Killham

I also love the way Blackman transforms the imagery of dirt trailing down a wall; the ending of ‘Sanctuary’ becomes as much a tableau as one of Bakker’s photographs. ‘Sanctuary’ – Andrew Blackman

Wyld  keeps the atmosphere suitably unsettling, and any hope she offers comes with its own nagging doubt. ‘Corridor’ – Evie Wyld

There’s a neat reversal in this story, and I like Frey’s use of the staircase as an image and venue. ‘The Staircase Treatment’ – Myriam Frey

The choppy rhythms of van Mersbergen’s prose underline the sense of unease, up to a rather chilling end. ‘Pa-Dang’ – Jan van Mersbergen

The titular rose acts a symbol of the family’s hope – something to keep growing in the garden, and not to remove, for fear of angering the landlord. ‘A Rose For Raha’ – Ava Homa

Royle tops it off with a dark twist at the end. ‘The Blind Man’ – Nicholas Royle

It’’s amusing to read, but also leaves one with the nagging thought of just how easily that sort of thing could happen… ‘From the Archive’ – James Miller

Details of ‘real’ life are heightened through their transformation into Hershman’s science-fiction idiom, and the ending is especially poignant. ‘Switchgirls’ – Tania Hershman

Rechner makes good use of sensory detail to convey the stuffy and intense atmosphere of the theatre. ‘The Playwright Sits Next to Her Sister’ – Mary Rechner

Hussein reveals the full possibilities only gradually, and even then keeps the truth ambiguous. ‘The Tree at the Limit’ – Aamer Hussein

Just as Beard’s piece blurs the line between fact and fiction, so it effectively portrays lifts as simultaneously useful and threatening spaces. ‘Life Under Inspection, Do Not Touch’ – Richard Beard

This is a nicely paced story, with an effective sting in its ending. ‘Odd Job’ – Preeta Samarasan

What follows is a snappy, rhythmic jaunt through the cacophony of modern life. ‘Noise’ – James Higgerson

 ‘A Job Worth Doing’ is more a celebration of what has passed. ‘A Job Worth Doing’ – SJ Butler

Rose captures a certain stiff formality in the voice of his protagonist; and the range of details focused on creates an effective sense of diffuseness. ‘Sere’ – David Rose

This piece is both a portrait of the emotional value that books can have to someone; but it’s also a poignant tale of loss… ‘Morayo’ – Sarah Ladipo Manyika

A well-constructed mosaic of events from Justin Hill’s life, with recurring themes of memory and going through doors. ‘Waiting’ – Justin Hill

What gives this story its edge is a clear sense that this is a false hope, and that the protagonist can’t move on in life because she won’t let go of the idea. ‘Ten A Day’ – Jan Woolf

‘Opportunity’ provides an elegant and broad examination of its issues. ‘Opportunity’ – Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende

Its supernatural twist gives this tale a very effective chill. ‘In the Dressing Room Mirror’ – Claire Massey

I like the ambiguity in the ending of this piece, and especially how it illuminates the narrator’s character. ‘The Owl at the Gate’ – Nicholas Hogg

Definitely a story that carries greater force than its length might suggest. ‘Still’ – SL Grey

This absorbing read takes a shocking turn. ‘How to Make a Zombie’ – Deborah Klaassen

A fine note on which to end the anthology. ‘Winter Moon’ – Xu Xi

Comments { 0 }

Photographs from ‘Still’ launch event, 26 September 2012 at Foyles, Charing Cross Road, London

THANK YOU! Negative Press London says a BIG thanks to all the writers (reading/non-reading) who were at the Still launch event in the Gallery at Foyles, as well to all the people who came for what was a very lively entertaining literary evening.

The readings went down a storm and the audience really enjoyed the mix of writing and related photography. It was a special treat to hear the stories read out with such passion and panache. Q&As, discussions and mingling followed!

Thanks to the writers who were there: SJ Butler, Myriam Frey, Tania Hersham, James Higgerson, Justin Hill, Nicholas Hogg, Aamer Hussein, Nina Killham, Deborah Klaassen (thanks for setting up Facebook event), Claire Massey, James Miller, Jan Woolf and Evie Wyld.

And thanks to the writers who were there in spirit: Richard Beard, Andrew Blackman, SL Grey, Ava Homa, Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Jan van Mersbergen, Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende, Mark Piggott, Mary Rechner, David Rose, Nicholas Royle, Preeta Samarasan and Xu Xi.

A big cheers to Paul Savage for a fantastic bar service and to David Owen at Foyles for five star help and organisation.

All photographs by Roman Skyva,

If anyone has any photographs they want to share, email to (max file width 1000px at 72dpi, if possible)

Comments { 1 }

Q&A | Claire Massey

Claire Massey

Photograph by
Jonathan Bean

CLAIRE MASSEY LIVES IN LANCASHIRE. Her short stories have been published online and in print in various magazines and anthologies including The Best British Short Stories 2011, Patricide and A cappella Zoo. Two of her stories have recently been published as chapbooks by Nightjar Press. She co-edits online short story magazine paraxis and keeps a blog called Gathering Scraps. In her story ‘In the Dressing Room Mirror’ a young woman is afraid to face her own reflection.

Where are you based?
I live in an old Lancashire mill town and I grew up in another one. The landscape, which I love, has a massive impact on my work, which features lots of crumbling terraces, hills and abandoned buildings. Rain tends to permeate my stories.

Where do you write?
On the settee in my living room, in an old brown chair in my bedroom, on my bathroom floor or in the bath, or in the kitchen whilst I’m cooking tea. I spend a lot of time on trains but I prefer to use that time for daydreaming.

What made you want to become a writer?
Reading. Being read stories and being taken to the theatre as a child, and never being able to give up on the idea of playing in imaginary worlds. Writers who inspire me and who make me want to give up in equal measure include: Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, Bruno Schulz, Daphne du Maurier, Leonora Carrington, Angela Carter, M John Harrison, David Constantine, Nicholas Royle and Joel Lane.

Female Artists’ Dressing Room Roelof Bakker Still

Female Artists’ Dressing Room
© 2012 Roelof Bakker

Why did you select this photograph?
It was the mirrors, the peeling paper on the ceiling and the dust on the tables. I love abandoned places, and the way the often mundane or random things that get left behind seem to brim with meaning in an abandoned setting.

Have you worked with artists before and if so, how was the experience?
No, and I’ve really enjoyed it. It was intriguing and challenging to use someone else’s creative work in this way. It made me take off from a completely different place as a writer.

Are visuals part of your writing practice?
My stories always grow from an image, either something I’ve seen in the street or something that appears in my thoughts without me necessarily being able to trace where it’s come from, but I’ve never started from a photograph before.

Do you enjoy the short story format?
Yes, I love it. I enjoy reading novels, too, but there’s something so powerful about the world that can be created in a smaller space. As a reader, I treasure short stories. I never devour collections but give each story space to linger in my mind. As a writer, short stories are an infuriating and joyful challenge. I’ll never tire of trying, and often failing, to write the stories I imagine.

What are working on at the moment?
I’ve just finished a couple of commissions so I’m taking a breath before starting on the research and imagining for a collection of short stories in which I want to explore the history of neuroscience and some of the peculiarities of the human mind, looking particularly at perception, memory and imagination. I’m also just starting work on a graphic novel set in an alternative Edinburgh with my sister.

Why did you start paraxis – an online magazine of short stories?
I’d set up and run one online magazine already (New Fairy Tales) and I really enjoyed the thrill of seeking out stories and of creating something new by putting together work from writers and artists across the world. Publishing online doesn’t give you the tactile pleasure of publishing print books (which I’ve also been lucky enough to do through my job at Litfest), but the unbelievably wide reach of the internet really appeals to me. Paraxis was born of a frustration of mine and my co-founding editor Andy Hedgecock’s with the way literary and genre fiction is so often divided up. We just wanted to publish imaginative, well-written short stories without considering labels.

Two of your stories were recently published as individual chapbooks by Nicholas Royle’s Nightjar Press. How did this come about?
I won a competition that Nick judged a couple of years ago with a story about a drowned village. We’ve kept in touch ever since and he’s been a brilliant mentor, editor and friend. I’ve collected all of the Nightjars. I love the quality of the chapbooks, both in their haunting content and the beautiful design, and I desperately wanted to have a Nightjar of my own. I was very nervous when I sent Nick the stories that became my Nightjars, and thrilled when he accepted them for publication.


Marionettes Claire Massey Nightjar Press

Comments { 0 }

‘Still’ exhibition at Foyles, Charing Cross Road, London – until 30 October

The Green Room

‘Still’: an exhibition of photographs and excerpts from related stories

An exhibition of photographs from Still by Roelof Bakker has opened at Foyles, 113-119 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0EB.

Twenty large size photographs of vacated spaces at Hornsey Town Hall are exhibited in two separate spaces: the Café on the first floor and the Gallery on the third floor.

In line with the approach of the literary art book, each photograph is accompanied by a brief excerpt from the related story with the writer’s name and story’s title included.

With excerpts from stories by Andrew Blackman, SL Grey, Tania Hershman, Justin Hill, Ava Homa, Claire Massey, Jan van Mersbergen, James Miller and Evie Wyld.

With excerpts from stories by Richard Beard, SJ Butler, James Higgerson, Nicholas Hogg, Nina Killham, Deborah Klaassen, Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende, Mark Piggott, Preeta Samarasan and Jan Woolf.

Justin Hill, Waiting, from Still Negative Press London 2012

Excerpt from ‘Waiting’ by Justin Hill to accompany the print ‘The Green Room’

The book itself was launched at Foyles on 26 September in the Gallery with a literary event including readings by Tania Hershman, Justin Hill, Nicholas Hogg, Aamer Hussein, James Miller (with Jan Woolf) and Evie Wyld as well as a screening of the video film from the project with other visuals.


Negative Press London and Foyles have also launched a short story competition.


20 C-type prints from negative film with film information borders, size 50cm x 50cm, framed. 20 plagues with story excerpts mounted on foam board.

Comments { 1 }