A Chronicle of a Tale Half Told

We thought it was about time we roused the Speculators blog from cryosleep, where it has slept these long years. When last we posted, we were promoting the launch of Daniel Ribot’s first novel – VampSov, and the streets were strewn with Pickled Onion Monster Munch. There have been other publications by various Speculators since then, and we’ll get to them, but to begin with, we’re going to raid the archives to bring out an entry from Dan’s old blog which deserves another moment in the sun.

[Originally published on Floppybootstomp on 27/10/2010]

Towards the end of September, on a Wednesday, Graham Joyce came to speak to the Speculators (we, the am-dram of SF writing). It was an interesting talk; thought provoking, illuminating, full of inspiring stuff. It was so good I decided to write it up weeks later, once I’d forgotten how most of it went.


I did this for a reason. OK, another reason apart from being a lazy, shiftless cove… I did it because it is so easy in these situations to become a mere copyist, a transcriber and a verbatim recorder. Other bloggers do it: they go to a talk or lecture and reproduce the speaker’s notes down to the last sub-heading and footnote. In my opinion that is a problem, particularly for the speaker who may earn part of their living by giving talks. What do they feel about sharp-eared pixies giving away their merchandise? It is something to ponder before putting someones magnum opus online; you may be hurting them financially by doing so. To avoid this pit-trap, I prefer to write inchoate half-memories, so if I write nonsense, it is as a matter of principle.

Graham Joyce is a fantastic writer. Read all about him here. He is also a great raconteur, inventor of alter egos (William Heaney) and a lover of the craft of writing. I do hope that that at least will come across here. We began, as is entirely germane, with the writer’s story. His path to becoming a writer could not be more romantic; he gave up his job, went to live on a Greek island for a year, wrote his first novel and got it published before jetting back to England with a suitcasefull of retsina.

OK, so there was more to it than that (there always is), he was previously successful as a poet and had tried to write a novel earlier in life. He also had experiences to draw on which included years of youth work, bizarre meeting/therapy sessions and a childhood in a mining community that give depth and substance to his work.

After that part of the talk (or was it before?) Graham did a very unusual thing; he made a serious attempt to answer the age-old question “where do you get your ideas from?”. It is easy to scoff when people ask that question. It is considered bad form to even bring it up. This is a shame, as it is the most vital question of all: Why do we write what we write? Here is Mr Joyce’s answer, as far as I could fathom it.

Consider a triangle. You know, geometric shape, three points, isosceles, right-angled… oh, never mind, here’s a picture:


Right. Happy now? Let us continue. Well, at the top of the ‘Joycean’ triangle is your inspiration. This is drawn mainly from dreams. Dreams are your subconscious mind trying to order your waking thoughts, experiences etc. Many ideas come from this state of consciousness. The trick for a writer is to drag these ideas down to the bottom left point of the triangle. Here is where you sketch them out, scribble them into notebooks and generally form them into plots, characters and stories that you want to tell. Then the hard work begins of turning the idea into a manuscript and writing the various drafts that lead to the finished manuscript (the bottom right point of your triangle).

If you were in a mystical and Kabbalistic mood, you could liken this process to the lighting strike: divine inspiration pinging through all the sephiroth on the tree of life from Kether to Malkuth as the divine is transformed from spark, to Platonic form, to idea, to book signing at Waterstones. You’ll want a picture of that too:


Other interesting stuff was also said, like the fact that each of Graham’s books goes through four or five drafts. The first draft considers plotting and story-line, the last is a line-by-line reading and tidy up. In between, Mrs Graham Joyce reads the draft, bringing another pair of eyes to the manuscript.

Honestly, I can’t remember much more. He did let us all have a copy of his novel Requiem, which I loved, and talked about his new novel, The Silent Land. We all had drinks at the bar after. But I do remember another occasion, performing on the same bill as him last October in a cold, gloomy Leicester Guildhall in a charity event. He told a creepy little ghost story and just as the tale came to a spine-chilling crescendo, he leapt at two old ladies in the audience shouting “Aaaargh!”. Top bloke.


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At Last, the VampSov ’38 Launch!

Published a few months ago, Daniel Ribot’s debut novel never had an official launch party at the time. We were sad.

As the first novel published by a Speculator, the occasion must be marked. And marked it shall be. With Monster Munch, no less.


Saturday 17th October 2015 at Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG. Kick-off is at 7:30pm. Open to all-comers.

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Speculators in Print

Jay Eales

Doctor Who charity anthologies:

Perfect Timing 2, [co-edited with Helen Fayle] (1999)

Bell, Book & Candle, Walking in Eternity, [Editor/contributor] Factor Fiction (2000)

Walk A Mile In My Shoes, Missing Pieces (2001)

Tread On a Crack, Shelf Life, [co-edited with Adrian Middleton & David A McIntee] Factor Fiction (2008)


The Girly Comic #1-21, Publisher/contributor, Factor Fiction (2001-2010)

Violent! #1-20, Publisher/editor/contributor from #6 on, Factor Fiction (1999-2014)

Borderline – The Comics Magazine #1-20, [News Features Editor] MediaHall (2002-2004)

Service Not Included, comic strip with Peet Clack, American Splendor DVD (2004)

See a Penny, Pick It Up…, comic strip with Graeme Neil Reid, Negative Burn #6, Desperado Press/Image Comics (2006)

Outlaw Wu, comic strip with Toby Ford, The Mammoth Book of Best New Manga, Constable & Robinson (2006)

Made Men, comic strip with Charley Spencer, Robots, Accent UK (2008)

Last Suppers, comic strip, Predators, Accent UK (2011)

The Girly Comic Book Volume 1, Publisher/contributor, Factor Fiction (2008 hardback/2012 paperback)

The Girly Comic Book Volume 2, Publisher/contributor, Factor Fiction (August 2012 paperback)

Imaginary Kingdom comics adaptation with Krzysztof Ostrowski, Zombre, Borderline Press (November 2013)

Rose-Tinted Spectacles, comic strip with Peet Clack, Do Something, Factor Fiction (July 2016)


Spare Change, Murky Depths #12, House of Murky Depths (2010)

ICU, The Speculator (2010)

Mightier than the Sword, Faction Paradox: A Romance in Twelve Parts, Obverse Books (2011)

Imaginary Kingdom, Alt-Zombie, Hersham Horror (2012)

Nine TenthsTerror Scribes, Doghorn Publishing (2012)

Faction Paradox: Burning With Optimism’s Flames, [Editor] Obverse Books (2012)

Born Among Briars, More Tales of the City, Obverse Books (2013)

The Five Faces of Fear (The Periodic Adventures of Señor 105 #8), Manleigh Books (2013)

Zeitgeist, Terror Tales Volume 2, #1, Rainfall Books (2014)

The Revenant, The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes 3, Alchemy Press (2014)

Nine Tenths, Kitchen Sink Gothic, Parallel Universe Publications (2015)

Death of the Artist, The Perennial Miss Wildthyme, Obverse Books (2015)

Made Me Do It, Final Masquerade, Lycan Valley Press (Canada/US) (November 2016/ 2nd Ed. June 2017)

Between Love and Hat, You Left Your Biscuit Behind, Fox Spirit Press (December 2016)

Everything’s Coming Up Roses, A Treasury of Brenda and Effie, Obverse Books (2017)

Eye of Orion? + Walk a Mile in My Shoes, A Second Target For Tommy, Obverse Books (2018)

Buried on Sunday, Stranger Tales of the City (The City of the Saved), Obverse Books (2018)

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Enemy, The Book of the Enemy, Obverse Books (2018)

Brex-what? + The Word, Bollocks To Brexit, Civic Leicester (2019)

The Other Side, Forgotten LivesObverse Books (December 2020)

Borrowed Time, Forgotten Lives II, Obverse Books (Forthcoming 2022)

The Five Faces of Fear, Señor 105: Dos Aventuras, Factor Fiction (Forthcoming)

Selina Lock


The Girly Comic & The Girly Webcomic, [Editor] (2001–2011)

Kissability, illustrated by Graeme Neil Reid, The Girly Comic #1

When Toilets Attack!, illustrated by Toby Ford, The Girly Comic #4

Rescue Me, illustrated by Jenni Scott, Motodraconis & Debra Boyask, The Girly Comic #16

What Women Want, illustrated by Jane McGuinness, The Girly Comic #18

Pumpkin Coach, co-written with Allen Ashley, illustrated by Mayko Fry, The Girly Comic #21

Angela D’eath, illustrated by Dave Windett, Baddis #1, Westwind Forlag (2005)

War Canary, illustrated by INJ Culbard, War: The Human Cost, Paper Tiger Comics (2011)

Yesterday, all my troubles…, illustrated by Staticgirl, Sugar Glider Stories #2 (2012)

Lady of the Skies, illustrated by David O’Connell, Ink+PAPER #1 (2012)

A Guinea Pig’s Guide to Cancer Drug Clinical Trials, illustrated by Sarah Al Hazmi, Asteroid Belter: The Newcastle Science Comic (2013)

Go Home and Sit Still, illustrated by Arthur Goodman, To End All Wars, Soaring Penguin Press (2014)


Friends Like These, The Speculator, (2010)

Lone and Level Sands, Alt-Zombie, Hersham Horror (2012)

Light Fingers, Terror Scribes, Doghorn Publishing (2012)

The Great and PowerfulThe Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders, Alchemy Press (2012)

Green Eyed and Grim (The Periodic Adventure of Seňor 105 #5), Manleigh Books (2013)

Death on the Euphrates, Iris Wildthyme of Mars, Obverse Books (2014)

Angels on a Hoverbike, Tales from the Civil War, Obverse Books (2017)

Brenda’s Bad Day, A Brenda and Effie Treasury, Obverse Books (2017)

Slide One (Presentation Notes) – The Sundering of the Kingdom, Civic Leicester (2019)

Inert, Alight, Dreamland: Other Stories, Black Shuck Books (2021)

Green Eyed and Grim, Señor 105: Dos Aventuras, Factor Fiction (Forthcoming)


The Only Woman Aboard, Factor Fiction (March 2019)

Daniel Ribot

War of the World Builders, The Speculator (2010)

No Class, The Speculator (2010)

La Santa Muerte,  Faction Paradox: Burning With Optimism’s Flames, Obverse Books (2012)

VampSov 1938, Omnium Gatherum Media (2013)

A Gentleman’s Agreement, Phoenix Square, Phoenix Writers (2014)

James Worrad

Apocalypse Cliché (with Dan Gilbert), The Speculator (2010)

+1, The Speculator (2010)

The Strings, Faction Paradox: Burning With Optimism’s Flames, Obverse Books (2012)

+1, Daily Science Fiction (January 2012)

Silent in Her Vastness, Noir, NewCon Press (April 30 2014)

The Scalpel (Feral Space 1), Castrum Press (January 2018)

The Pink Starship Switch, Future Days, Castrum Press (August 2018)

The Delighted (Feral Space 2), Castrum Press (August 2018)

Pennyblade, Titan Books (March 2022)

Phillip Irving

The Last, The Speculator (2010)

Lucy Ann Wade

Tick, The Speculator (2010)

Will Ellwood

Two Out of Three, The Speculator (2010)

Walls Between Worlds, Flurb #13 (2011)

Weyland Street, Do Something, Factor Fiction (July 2016)

Jen Walklate

Lurid Sky, Do Something, Factor Fiction (July 2016)

P.D. Rudman

The Rose, Lost and Found (June 2016)

Experiment 3, dramatised as part of the Story City festival (July 2016)

Tea, The Heroes Among Us (a charity eBook for LOROS)

Mike Jennings

Hope Remains, Do Something, Factor Fiction (July 2016)

Richard Urwin

Artificial Intelligence: The Quest For the Ultimate Thinking Machine (November 2017)

Simon Fung

Mozgu, Depravity – A Collection of Supernatural Horror Stories, Severance Publications Ltd (2017)

Rover’s A Good Boy, Leicester Writes Short Story Prize 2018 Anthology Vol. 2, Dahlia Publishing (2018)

Those Who Live By the Shawarma, Shoreline of Infinity #17 (2019)

Siobhan Logan

Firebridge to Skyshore: A Northern Lights Journey, Original Plus Press (2009) (poetry & creative non-fiction: essays/ travelogues & woodcut illustrations)

Mad, Hopeless and Possible: Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition, Original Plus Press (2011) (poetry & non-fiction & ink drawings)

Philae’s Book of Hours, May 2016 European Space Agency (ESA) (May 2016) (digital prose-poem narrative sequence)

Where Philae Boldly Goes, Impressions of Rosetta’s Legacy e-book, (ESA) (January 2017) (Article with poetry)

Magazines and Anthologies:

Switching Off the Metronome, Leicester Writes Anthology, (2nd prize winner in their 2017 inaugural Short Story Competition) (April 2017)

Red Feet, Mrs Rochester’s Attic, Mantle Lane Press (April 2017) (short story)

Sky Lines + Grand Union Canal + Space Blanket City, Welcome to Leicester: Poetry About the City, Dahlia Publishing (October 2016) (poems)

Whitby Jet, Lost & Found: Stories of Home by Leicestershire Writers, Dahlia Publishing (June 2016) (short story)

The Gate of Grief + The Humans Are Coming, Over Land, Over Sea: Poems For Those Seeking Refuge, Five Leaves Publications (November 2015) (co-editor and poems)

Other poems and stories published in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.

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Online Member Publications

A selection of stories for your delectation:


Phillip Irving

Chapter Eight Short-Story.Net (2008)

Where I Choose to Wake Body Parts Magazine.com

Those Things We Cannot Change InfectiveInk.com (2013)


James Worrad

+1 Daily Science Fiction

Eye-High Flurb #13 (2013)


Will Ellwood

Walls Between Worlds Flurb #12 (2011)


Jay Eales

Little Victories Amadeus (2014)

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‘Flawless’ to screen at CERN

Exciting news for Speculators James Worrad & Lucy Wade – co-writers of the short film ‘Flawless’ – the film will be screening at CERN as part of CineGlobe 2015.

Jim talks more about this news on his blog.


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States of Independence 14th March 2015

The Speculators are pleased to be part of this year’s States of Independence day.

States of Independence

Free of charge | 10.30am – 4.30pm | Open to all

Clephan Building, De Montfort University, Oxford Street, Leicester LE1 5XY

As part of the day members of the group will be giving a talk:

The Speculators – A Model for Tea Drinking and Writing
The Speculators is (are?) a writing group which meets once a week on Queens Road, Leicester. They have no formal membership structure and are organized on the basis of free association. In this session members of the group will talk about the reasons they write science fiction and fantasy, the reasons why they’re members, and a discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of groups like The Speculators with advice on forming similar groups.

There are also lots of other fab talks during the day including ones on “poetry, politics, Doctor Who, history, films, vinyl, steampunk, future fiction, zines, murder…

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The Speculator

It’s here, a bit odd, very stylish and free.

Contains 12 pages of Science Fiction and Fantasy from Leicester’s foremost speculative fiction writers group.

Download The Speculator issue 1 as a PDF from this link.

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The Speculator is a free broadsheet exclusive to Alt.Fiction 2010. It’s stuffed with stories and articles brought to you by… well, The Speculators, Leicester’s foremost–indeed, only known–SF and Fantasy writers group.

‘It is a showcase of our work, our imagination and our love of the craft of writing,’ says editor-in-chief Daniel Ribot. ‘I hope Alt.Fiction attendees will enjoy, comment and participate with us, perhaps going so far as buying a thirsty editor a well-deserved pint!’

Seventeen writers in all have contributed, their efforts accentuated by the feverishly dazzling handiwork of many genre artists. So that’s twelve–count ‘em–twelve pages of sheer mind-fondling, vision-injected 100% STORY for your delectation, all TOTALLY FREE!

Because we love you, people, really we do. No, really.


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The Speculators.

speculators 002 copy

speculators 008 copy

Not quite in the flesh, but in the hats certainly.

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Writing Tips

Come up with by the group at the pub, put together by Dan, some tips on writing.

“There are three rules of good writing. Trouble is, no-one can agree what they are.” Somerset Maugham

Suggestions for improving your writing.

1) Take out all adverbs and adjectives.

2) Once you have done that, strengthen the verbs (i.e. He ran quicky is much better expressed as; he raced, he careered, he pelted etc.)

3) Replace only the essential adverbs and adjectives

4) Turn all passive sentences into active ones

5) Remove AND, BUT, HOWEVER, SO and MEANWHILE from the beginning of sentences.

6) Dialogue should be clear about who is speaking without constant use of attribution (he or she said, he exclaimed, she retorted etc). Kill most of it.

7) Avoid tautology, cliche and solecism.

8) Don’t trust your spell-checker.

The Literature Network also have 7 tips for being a Great Writer.


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