Welcome

This is where I write about writing...and other random nonsense.

If you'd like to read some of my fiction pieces, click on My Writing. I'd love to hear what you think.

You can find me on Instagram & flickr as tomwrote, as well as Goodreads over there. I'm on twitter @tomwrote and every now and again on facebook as plain old Tom O'Brien.







DEFY! Anthology

My story, The Boy On The Stairs, is in the DEFY! anthology and my copy just arrived. 

It's a great collection and supports a worthy cause. Not only that, they are a pleasure to work with. 


The guys over at fightingmonkeypress.com are putting together UncommonLands anthology and doing such a great job. 

They have just revealed the anthology cover:




Very pleased to say I've got a story in there:


Go check out their stuff, not just this collection

Writing: How To Take A Beating





Andreszj, if that was his name, leaned closer to me. So close that I could smell his breath, his aftershave, his sweat. “You know what fear tastes like?” he hissed in an accent I couldn’t place.
This was no rhetorical question. The ferocity of his glare when I didn’t answer made that clear. It mattered to him that I was scared. My blood drummed in my temples at the tempo of death metal, making it hard to think, but some part of me told me this was important.
In this straight-to-download movie world I had stumbled into, information was a weapon. What information I could gauge. What I gave away.  My answer mattered. 
“Chicken?” I ventured. This, as it turned out, was not helpful. I had not chosen well. But the answer to that question always seems to be chicken. Snake, human flesh, feathered birds; apparently they all taste like chicken.
And in my defence, I wasn’t trying to be helpful. 
Boris, if that was his name, was trying to hurt me and that didn’t seem like something I should be trying to assist. That would be a little needy, if we’re honest.
To take the honesty a bit further, Laszlo, if that was his name, didn’t seem to need much help. He was doing a bang up job of banging me up against every wall, doorframe and pillar in the place. 
That’s not to say he was winning. Oh no. I was fighting back, hard. I knew there was a limit to how much he could withstand of my barrage of brutal whimpers, stabbing cries of pain and ferocious bleeding. Dmitri, if that was his name, would be hard pressed to hold out for long against such an onslaught. 
I was right. He surrendered just as I was on the verge of cracking my rib hard against his fist. I had him exactly where he was. A vicious sob to the solar plexus, a right moan to the jaw, a stinging gasp to his kneecap and the fight was as good as over. 
Igor, if that was his name, stood panting in humiliated triumph over me. My victory was complete. For every deep breath he was forced to draw, I lay barely breathing. As I towered underneath him I pressed my advantage home. With a voice leant menace by a possible broken rib I demanded to know; “Who are you?”
 “My name is Dave”, he said, in what I finally recognised as a Welsh accent.
I should have known. If the answer isn’t chicken, it’s likely to be Dave.


Review: Woodcutters

Woodcutters Woodcutters by Thomas Bernhard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A puzzling novel to review. This book lulled me to sleep every night but didn’t bore me. It was possible to skim pages, meet variations of the same line on several pages, then go back and find no new information. And yet the book is exceptionally well written, catching a voice and a point of view, in part through the sheer volume of music that waltzes around an internal monologue.

That viewpoint is hardly a pleasant place to be. This is a man who is jaded, cynical, grieving, hurt and hurtful. Yet the expression of these traits is familiar to anyone who is honest with themselves in the moments they are not proud of. He also undergoes believable inconsistencies, reversals and revelations, some temporary, some profound.

The quality of references, at least those I caught, and the authentic note to the milieu add enormously to the sense of a writer in control of their work at levels I can only respond to unconsciously. How else could I end up liking a book about a man who sits in a chair complaining to himself about everyone, including himself?

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Review: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hearing the author narrate this not-quite-memoir added to an already warm and insightful book. Even in the writing, it's a story that could have become bitter. Coming of age in the context of ill-informed and judgemental religiosity Winterson travels away from God but towards a deeper spiritual understanding of the world and her possible place in it.

Flourishes of fantasy accompany this journey, providing splashes of colour against the beautifully drawn but drab realities of growing up in a northern town, even if it does involve forbidden first love, seduction and exorcism.

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Review: The Driver's Seat

The Driver's Seat The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an odd but strangely satisfying novella. We follow a character who seems to have descended into a kind of wilful madness, born out of frustration with her everyday life.

She has an idea, in fact several ideas, of who she might want to be, what kind of face she wants to present to the world, but everything is unmoored, inconsistent, driven by impulses. Her great adventure is a role play over extended into lethal territory.

The writer lets us know early on how things will end and this dramatic irony adds enormously to the book. If the pace drifts just a little in the middle section, the focus is pin sharp than at either end. Equally, there are elements in the plot that perhaps require an extra suspension of disbelief but the psychology is sharp the whole way through.

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