Fiona "McDroll" Johnson is the author of the very fine short-story collections Kick It and Kick It Again, and the co-editor of the charity anthology, The Lost Children. She blogs over at I Meant to Read That and she joins us at DBK today...
I've read so many stories this year and it's impossible to say if the ones below are my favourites but for a variety of reasons these are the ones that have stuck in my memory.
Smoke by Nigel Bird
If you want to understand what is happening in contemporary society in Scotland, then Bird is handing it to you here on a plate; kids who have been failed by the education system, poor housing, poor employment and training opportunities, teenage pregnancies, alcohol and drug misuse and a criminal sub culture. Sounds bleak but for many youngsters growing up today, this is their reality and Bird moves into this world with such ease and makes these characters real instead of government statistics.
2. Guns of Palo Alto by Josh Stallings
Like everything I've read from Josh Stalling, Guns of Palo Alto hits hard and leaves you bleeding but also has a huge amount of heart and a truth that can't be faked.
3. Legacy of Brutality by Thomas Pluck
I'd read a few of Tommy's stories before I got to this one but when I read it I was just blown away. Here was a character in Denny that Tommy could finally get his teeth into and show everyone what a fabulous writer he actually is. What a year it's been for Mr. Pluck. He's a writing machine and 2012 is going to be mega for him.
4. FIX by Stephen Blackmoore
I don't think I'm wrong in saying that Stephen Blackmore hadn't written a vampire story before this one and that he was pretty unsure about it. However, thinking back to all of the stories I've read this year, this one sticks in my mind. I loved that the main character is female and I really hope that he's going to build on this vibrant entry
into the dark side.
5. Two-Phones by Dan O'Shea
I just couldn't name my top 5 without putting in something by the fabulous Mr. O'Shea. His writing flows like no one else's and now that I've listened to a few of his audio recordings I always hear his
amazing voice when I read his work. This little story was just beautifully constructed, seemingly simple but showing such a sure hand.