You turn you back for one minute…

Honestly, the life of an author… (and yes I am going to be that pretentious, if you chose to read all this at face value.)

You go away for the weekend for a commemorative game of golf, drinking, a gig in a university student union by an aging 80’s rebel rousing rock band, shake the hand of a local radio football commentator, and go sit in a seat you haven’t sat in for ten years to watch a bunch of grown assed me kick an inflated pigs bladder about. And at some point while you’re distracted someone releases an anthology you happen to be in…

Some words of explanation may be in order…

Golf is not something I normally play. As witnessed by the healthy live app on my phone going ding and telling me I had completed my daily goal of 11000 steps towards the middle of the round. The app I wasn’t even aware I had, and that has never gone ping before… Golf was one of my dad’s sporting passions, and he was formally president, captain, treasurer and any other position that needed filling at his local golf club. This was after he decided to hang up his pads and cease to be a demon fast bowler…

Dad passed last year, so my cousin and brother arranged a commemorative game of golf at his old club in his memory, hence golf.

We were playing Friday because that was the night The Alarm were playing in Leeds, and well being a fan from way back, I was happy to be dragged kicking and screaming to a golf course, because I got to go to a gig afterwards. I did actually enjoyed the golf, though all that hitting balls with sticks did ruin the nice walk. The band were also good, but the company of my brother, two of my favourite cousins and my son made it all the more so. There was much drinking, laughing, and singing along, and occasional family emotional stuff, which I am ill equipped for at times.

Then the following day, with my body reminding me that I was no longer a teenager and exercise, followed by a lot of drinking, singing and dancing, came with a cost, I was not entirely dragged along to Eland Road for the football by my brother who had a spare season ticket, which also happened to be my old seat that I gave up my own ticket for ten years before. It was quite strange and oddly pleasant when a few of those sitting around us recognised me after a decade of absence.

In my youth, despite not really being a football fan, I started going to football matches, because I liked been part of the crowd. This is in danger of turning into a longer complex explanation, so I’ll jump to the clip notes… I was a complicated, overly intelligent, gawky, awkward teenager who didn’t fit in anywhere or with anybody. I dressed in black, read books, drank Guinness (because it was black and I liked the Rutger Hauer adverts…) listened to The Sisters of Mercy, read too much, and misunderstood my way through a bunch of relationships… I was a bit of a mess… Then one of what you might passingly call my mates dragged me along to a Leeds match and stood in the Kop and Eland Road none of the stuff that made me a misfit mattered. I was part of the crowd and accepted as one of them… It was a unique experience in my life up to that point and I have been a Leeds fan ever since, despite not actually being a football fan as such…

Over the years I dragged both my brother, and my dad along. Both far more sporty than I have ever been. It became the thing we did, my brother, dad, and me, they were both very different people but football became how we bridged the gap and when I moved away from Leeds a decade or so ago it was one of the things I missed most. But Dad and our kid kept going. So they still had that connection, and so did I because it was something we could always talk about even after I gave up my ticket…

In short, it has therefore, in all been a busy family orientated weekend and an emotional one.

Then I got home and discovered in my absence Harvey Duckman Volume 9 ( the eleventh Harvey Duckman book I have been involved it) was released.

Harvey Duckman presents… not the special plumbing edition. But kind of! The latest in the series of collected works of suspense and mystery in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror and steampunkery, called, oddly enough Harvey Duckman Presentsā€¦ is, as it says on the cover, volume 9 but it may or may not feature a brilliant array of plumbing and plumber related tales, in amongst our usual offerings.

As always, this anthology features work by exciting new voices in speculative fiction, including both established authors and previously unpublished writers.

These short stories give a glimpse into some fantastic worlds that are already out there for you to enjoy, as well as a taste of more to come.

Volume 9 includes stories by: John Holmes-Carrington, Graeme Wilkinson, Mark Hayes, R. Bruce Connelly, Will Nett, Davia Sacks, Peter James Martin, Robin Moon, Joseph Carrabis, A.L. Buxton, C.K. Roebuck, Liam Hogan, Kate Baucherel, Liz Tuckwell and Ben Sawyer.

Now you may of noticed that this edition is the ‘not the special plumbing edition’. This is because of an in joke, some of our writers did not realise was a joke. When we were kicking about ideas for another special edition, after the Pirates one last year, someone suggested Plumbers as a joke, and people ran with it. So we ended up with a load of stories that involved plumbers or plumbing in some way… Roman baths, strange haunted pipes, space bypass’s. Octopi with plungers….

It’s a strange, remarkable and to be frank, fabulous mix… Give a bunch of authors a theme and its amazing what they will come up with… It’s also weirdly emotional for me, for reasons…

As for my story in this edition, well it involves the number 27 and no plumbing or plumbers what so ever. It is instead a story of life, death and is somewhat philosophical. The last sentence of which was in part inspired by something my dad said to me last summer, when he knew it would be his last… So its an emotional one for me personally. But defiantly not about plumbing… Just inspired, by a last piece of wisdom a retired plumber passed on to his son…

I miss my dad, who despite never been much of a reader until his later years, and then never really a reader of scifi and fantasy, been more of a Clive Cluster fan, read every Harvey book we put out. It’s a shame he won’t read this one. I suspect all the plumbing would have amused him, before he pointed out everything the writers had got wrong, winked at me and smiled.

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