Viewing all posts by Emily Cleaver


A Moment of Weakness: the Finished #LitroStory

Last week we ran a literary experiment on Twitter. We asked our followers to write a collective story, one tweet at a time. Novelist Russ Litten wrote the first line for us, and then we handed the story over to fate … and Twitter. We’re rather pleased with it – admittedly, it’s madder than a bag of ferrets, makes little sense, careers from one plot idea to another and ends more confusingly than it started, but it is a story, with a beginning, a middle and an end. Read more →

Sin City: Decadence and Doom in Weimar Berlin

"You couldn’t find anything more nauseating than what goes on in Berlin, quite openly, every day. The people there don’t know how low they have sunk. Evil does not know itself there. That town is doomed more than Sodom ever was." —Christopher Isherwood. Politics, poverty, cabaret and sex in Weimar Berlin, the city that flourished briefly and brightly between the wars Read more →

Short Stories: New World Fairy Tales by Cassandra Parkin

The stories in this debut collection are familiar: a beautiful outcast taken in by seven dwarves, a girl with a long plait of hair, a woman going three times to the ball. But these modern retellings of traditional stories, set in present-day America, are relocated, reimagined and reinvigorated for a 21st-century reader. Read more →

Everything Speaks In Its Own Way: An Interview with Performance Poet Kate Tempest

Kate Tempest's angry, heartfelt, sing-song performance style and allusive, pulsating writing come together to create poetry that's literary, musical and mesmerising. We talk to her about her love of hip hop, her first slams, telling her poems to squat raves and punk gigs, and the relationship between lyrics and poetry. We also hear some of the tracks from her fantastic new spoken-word album, Everything Speaks In Its Own Way. Read more →

Chinese storyteller Fong Liu tells the story of the Golden Reed Pipe

Chinese storyteller and musician Fong Liu is on the Litro Lab podcast this week, telling the story of "The Golden Reed Pipe", a traditional folk tale of the Yao culture, an ethnic minority who live in the mountains of southern China. Fong’s wonderful storytelling style combines narrative and singing to create a funny and idiosyncratic tale. Read more →

AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers

It’s an exciting time for African science fiction, marked most recently by the release of StoryTime’s 'AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers', a short story collection edited by Zimbabwean writer and publisher Ivor Hartmann: “If you can’t see and relay an understandable vision of the future, your future will be co- opted by someone else’s vision, one that will not necessarily have your best interests at heart.” Read more →
Richard Smyth

Short Story: “A Professor on the Lawn” by Richard Smyth

"You must be so brainy," the girl said. I remember that. I think – I think – that when she said that she was perched upon my arthritic old knee. I may have – you know – jiggled her a bit. Playfully. I don’t really recall.
We loved this funny, sad story as soon as we heard it. Read by actor Greg Page. Read more →

Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane

A good occult story doesn’t require the reader to believe in the occult. I can be scared by Algernon Blackwood without believing in ghosts, or get a chill down my spine from H. P. Lovecraft without thinking that ancient tentacled gods really control the affairs of man.In fact, a great occult story plays on that friction between not believing, and wanting, just for a little time, to be convinced. The best stories in this magic-themed anthology walk that line with perfect balance, while others fall on the wrong side of it. Read more →

Tania Hershman: Author of My Mother Was an Upright Piano

Jerusalem. It's a city I lived in from 1994-2009, the bulk of my adult life. It was really the first place I chose to be home, rather than having that choice made for me... It's going to sound strange to those of you who have never lived in a place where you step out of your house with full awareness that each day might be your last, but it certainly adds colour to life, heightens everything, and once you've experienced that – I imagine this is why war correspondents do what they do – then living elsewhere, somewhere apparently “safer”, takes some getting used to. Read more →

A Tribute to Robert McGowan (1947-2012)

This week on Litro Lab we revisit a short story that first appeared on the website in June 2011. Its author, Robert McGowan, sadly passed away last month. Actor Greg Page, a regular voice on Litro Lab, talks about his friendship with Robert, and reads Robert's story "Billy", about an American history professor struggling to find the words to talk about his own experience in the Vietnam war. Read more →

Short Stories: Tea at the Midland by David Constantine

In David Constantine’s short story "Asylum", a therapist asks a patient to look in a mirror and describe herself. The mirror is “a lovely thing, face-shaped and just the size of a face, without a frame, the bare reflecting glass.” Seeing ourselves unexpectedly reflected, transformed by context—these mirror-moments are what make great short stories, and they pop out often from David Constantine’s collection, Tea at the Midland. Read more →