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Helen McClory is the author of two story collections, On the Edges of Vision (Queen's Ferry Press), a winner of the Saltire First Book of the Year award, and Mayhem & Death (404 Ink), as well as a novel, Flesh of the Peach (Freight, 2017). The Goldblum Variations - a collection of experimental micro-fictions - was published by 404 Ink, and Penguin in 2019. Her short stories have been listed for distinction in The Best of British Fantasy (2018), The Best of British and Irish Flash Fictions (2018/19), and nominated for the Pushcart prize. Helen is a part-time lecturer at the University of Glasgow and co-founder of writing retreat Write Toscana.
Reeling with edge-of-your-seat atmosphere and the entangled lives, lusts and obsessions of three compelling characters involved in a unique ménage à trois (of sorts), Helen McClory’s Bitterhall is a brilliantly unnerving novel that explores the liminal blurring of inner life with outer reality. Narrated by the three characters in intense, short, tight episodes, their lives begin to unravel due to the eerie influence of a nineteenth-century diary, with matters coming to an irreversible, bewildering crescendo at a decadent Halloween party. Daniel Lightfoot’s voice opens the book, breaking the metafictional fourth wall by addressing readers direct: “I want you to love me, if I’m being honest. That’s why I start so gently, in the garden, in the present tense. A good story begins tipsily in a garden, and carries on through well-proportioned rooms in the past tense in which blood is being spilled and was spilled.” His work involves futuristic 3D printing technology that aims to “copy important rare objects from all over the world to create replicas, mostly for museums.” He wants to “keep the old things safe... To save the past, but let people in.” Another link to the past is the nineteenth-century diary he’s reading, an intriguing document written by James Lennoxlove, the ancestor of his best friend. The diary finds its way to Daniel’s new flatmate, Tom, who can’t put it down and obsesses over Lennoxlove. Both Daniel and Tom’s girlfriend Órla notice a strange shift in Tom, the extent of which is revealed though Tom’s haunted, tormented narrative, and all three accounts of the Halloween party. Laced with Daniel’s dry wit alongside the growing confusion and creeping sense of madness (“Whatever I had done, I had done with my socks on”), this shrewdly-written read rises to a gripping, question-raising climax.
We like Jeff Goldblum. You like Jeff Goldblum. Helen McClory really likes Jeff Goldblum. The Goldblum Variations is a collection of flash fiction, stories and games on the one and only Jeff Goldblum as he, and alternate versions of himself, travels through the known (and unknown) universe in a mighty celebration of weird and wonderful Goldbluminess. Maybe he's cooking, maybe he's wearing a nice jumper, maybe he's reading this very book. The possibilities are endless. Treat yourself, because all that glitters is Goldblum.
In the anticipated follow-up collection to 2015's awardwinning On the Edges of Vision, Helen McClory returns delving deeper into descriptively mythical yet recognisable stories woven from dark and light, human fear and fortune. Swimming and suffering. Spikes loom ever-threatening. A weight against the throat. Sea where the dead lie pressed into a layer of silt. A silent documentary through a terrible place. Mary Somerville, future Queen of Science. A coven of two. Mayhem & Death is the matured, darker companion to On the Edges of Vision and shows McClory's ever expanding ability to envelop and entrance her readers with lyrical language of lore, stunning settings and curious characters. Mayhem & Death also introduces the brand new novella Powdered Milk, a tale for the lost.
In On the Edges of Vision, unease sounds itself in the language of legend. Images call on memory, on the monstrous self. In Helen McClory's daring debut short story collection, the skin prickles against sweeps of light or darkness, the fantastic or the frightful; deep water, dark woods, or scattered flesh in desert sand. Whether telling of a boy cyclops or a pretty dead girl, drowned sailors or the devil himself, each story draws the reader towards not bleakness but a tale half-told, a truth half-true: that the monster is human, and only wants to reach out and take you by the hand.