My poem “Missed Connection: Lizard in the Dog Park” is up at Strange Horizons. Yay!
First Published: 25th February, 1993
Genre: Children’s Fiction / Chapter Book
Available: Out of print
Featherbrains is the story of two battery hens, Flossie and Bessie. When they escape their cages, they find themselves in the outside world. A friendly jackdaw watches out for them as they explore.
This is a children’s chapter book. The story is light-hearted and there are quirky illustrations by Quentin Blake. At the same time, it introduces the serious issue of animal welfare in farming at a level that a young child can understand. It’s not a favourite and I don’t think I’d seek it out (unless specifically needing a book on battery hens), but it’s also not bad.
Often when asked the question ‘what do you write?’, I include shopping lists. People laugh, but I’m serious. You can tell a whole lot about someone from their shopping list. It’s a story in itself (though also a puzzle in a way, as you have to fill in the gaps).
There aren’t many places to send list stories though. So I figured I’d post this one here, in all its listy glory.
Today’s Shopping List: Wheat Field, Two Acres
* Ultrasonic Bird Scarer
* Anti-Perching Pigeon Spikes
* Bird Repeller Ribbon
* Eagle Eye Balloon
* Animating the Inanimate: 10 Beginner Projects by M. Emrys
* Turnip, large
* Bale of straw
* Suit, second hand
* Scarf, woollen with stripes
* Hat, wide-brimmed
* Needle and thread
* Pure spring water, one bottle
* Front door, same as old one
* Kitchen table, oak
* Iron chain, ten feet
* Antiseptic cream
* Charcoal, two bags
* Cat, tiger
I’ve lost a story. I can’t think how, other than saving it in the wrong place, but it’s gone. In the process of searching, I opened up everything I didn’t recognise in my idea file.
Despite my memory, there were things I’d forgotten. Strange, fragmentary things, with no apparent story attached. Maybe these will become stories someday. Maybe they’ll always stay in the ‘what was I thinking?’ category. Either way, here they are for your bemusement…
1) Hero’s Shadow
“The hero moves through the street, silent as a shadow. He stops, turns and glares at me.”
“Will you cut it out? This is a stealth operation.”
[I actually had a brief story outline for this one.]
The Evil Lord of Balthoss smashed a hole in the door. I wouldn’t have minded so much, if I hadn’t been the door. I hope he got splinters.
[I think I was having a door appreciation day. They do get smashed down on a frequent basis. Besides, when was the last time you saw a door as a main character? Inanimate object discrimination.]
The holonet ought to come with warnings. I don’t want to see a pro-gamma five kissing an epsilon one. It’s not natural, choosing one of your quad outside your normal gender alignment. You’ve got forty-two other genders to choose from. What’s the fascination with the remaining fifty three?
[This is what you get for letting a science fiction writer read anti-gay propaganda.]
4) Octopus Melon
Octopus loved to make melon pies
With cream on the top and jellyfish eyes.
[It’s for children. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.]
5) Dancing Spiders
Dancing spiders. Dancing spiders everywhere.
[I have no idea. None. Maybe it was late?]
If you’re a writer, now is the time to release those idea oddities onto an unsuspecting world.