Short stories

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For me, short stories are much harder to write than novels, and I think a lot of novelists would agree with me. Short stories give a writer nowhere to hide. They are short, so every word has to count. They have a central idea that has to be addressed in around 1,000 – 5,000 words, whereas a novel gives you 90,000 or more words to play around with.

Most of the short stories I have written have been commissioned, apart from No Flies on Frank.

I have won the international CWA Short Story Dagger twice and been a runner-up once. The competition for this award is fierce and it’s probably the only forum where I have managed to win against brilliant, best-selling writers.

Out of Her Mind

A crime writer is working on a novel about a serial killer. She begins the realise that the story she is writing is starting to escape from the page and re-emerge in real life.

Included in The Forge and Watch and Wait.

No Flies on Frank

Seal: Winner of the CWA Short Story Dagger award

Winner, CWA Short Story Dagger 2005

Frank really didn’t want to be a serial killer. He wanted to be an accountant. But when he inherits his uncle’s maggot farm, fate takes an unusual turn.

No Flies on Frank was included in The Best British Mysteries IV: v. 4 (no longer available new).


Seal: Runner-up for the CWA Short Story Dagger award

Runner-up, CWA Short Story Dagger 2006

Molly Richardson is a talented ceramicist and designer, but her husband, Anthony, had found a younger model, his lawyer, Olivia. Tim is a young man with Down’s Syndrome. He works for Molly, but Anthony wants nothing to do with him. Molly is about to lose her job and her marriage, but Tim is determined this isn’t going to happen.

Included in Getting Even.

The Trouble with Dragons

Kesia lives with her mum. Her friend Richard lives with his uncle, and Kesia knows something is wrong. When dragons move into the wild place where Richard and Kesia used to play, Kesia asks them for help. Of course, dragons aren’t real – or are they?

Included in Fusion.

The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing

Seal: Winner of the CWA Short Story Dagger award

Winner, CWA Short Story Dagger, 2019

If you really want to be a serial killer, you probably need some advice to get you started. The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing is surely just the thing.

Included in Daggers Drawn.

The Stranger in the Square

This memoir was commissioned as part of a true crime anthology about serial killers. I lived in Sheffield at the start of the Yorkshire Ripper scare, the city where he was finally caught, and I wrote this memoir about my life at the time, and about an encounter I had with this most prolific of killers.

Voices for Change

This collection of poems contains work by both professional and amateur poets, including a short poem by the late Benjamin Zephaniah.

The poems were written to commemorate the epic battle between the people of Sheffield and Sheffield City Council, when the street trees for which Sheffield is famous were in danger of being felled. Protestors were physically assaulted, arrested, and in some cases taken to court facing prison sentences. In the end, the protestors won, the council regime that had tried to stop the protests fell, and a more democratic means of local government was established.