Some of the Flash Mobbers took a road trip yesterday, to Lancaster. Little Dave and Mister Ben have stories in the latest Flax anthology, appropriately enough called Flash Mob (Flax026), and the launch took place at The Storey Institute where Litfest is based. What a great building, and how nice to finally meet Sarah Hymas, editor of Flax. She introduced proceedings then ten of the eleven writers read their 400-word inclusions (which you can see, and hear, online). Next was a break, when we were encouraged to check out Flax028 - a new haiku commission from Maya Chowdhry with a stop-motion film of seeds growing running in an inside-out garden shed. Actually we just chatted to folk and scoffed chocolates. The ten then read pieces of their other work: some, like Norman Hadley's sci-fi Panspermia, were companion pieces to the entries; others weren't even prose at all. Carys Bray's tale had a nice wet theme running throughout, even down to a mention of Noah's Ark, and I really liked Clare Kirwan's bit of smut, Parallel Conservatory.
Dave (lefthand foot) delivered more of his one-sentence stories: Unicorn Logistics, Strategic Magpies, Finger Thief, Perpetual Hen Night Endless Stages, Tyson/dog, Soul For The Devil and The Mould On The Chip... Ben (righthand foot), meanwhile, read a story with no name about a man with a cactus for a hand and a difficult relationship with his father. Dead funny.
Claire Massey, who had butterflies in her first story and moths in her second, Growing Cities, then read the contemporary fairy story A Book Tale (Flax027). This was commissioned for last October's festival along with the amazing Word Dress, custom-made from the pages of books by wedding frock designer Jennifer Pritchard Couchman. Claire refers to "the book dress" and its "crumpling sound" in the story, which nicely reflected Growing Cities with its miniature town of red-bricked houses, derelict mills and boarded-up pubs, as well as another of her pieces Feather Girls (which appears in Salt's The Best British Short Stories 2011) through the "dress of smoke and feathers".