Simon Avery’s fiction has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including Black Static, Crimewave, The Third Alternative, The Best British Mysteries IV, Beneath the Ground and Birmingham Noir. This month he features in the Joel Lane tribute book, Something Remains, and a story, A Very Lonely Revolution will be published in the next issue of Black Static.
A novella, The Teardrop Method is forthcoming in September from TTA Press.
In ‘A Very Lonely Revolution’, Simon Avery creates a delicate and moving examination of love, loss, grief, and the desire for something that is, perhaps, unattainable. Its very subtle horror continually threatens to give way to clichéd scary movie fare, yet easily wrong-foots us as it sidesteps this with ease, progressing to a deeply moving finale, which even contains a glimmer of fragile hope. A wonderful piece which deserves to be explored further in a more immersive tome, we hope. (This is Horror)
This is an undeniably profound survey of the meaning of life and humanity, and it is the only story this year that receives my highest recommendation. (Tangent Online)
[Sunflower Junction]… concerns a middle-aged fellow who, whilst perusing the music collection of an aging junkie living in the same Victorian-style apartment building, comes across an album called Sunflower Junction. In trying to track down the musician responsible—a rather obscure and near forgotten individual—we are taken on a beautifully written, tragic tale which the broken pasts of all its characters, and how they struggle to cast off the shackles of experience. It ends on a note of fragile, delicate hope, necessary to what’s gone before, but unexpected and moving. A stunning novelette, that is perfect as is, but would also work just as well in a longer format. (This is Horror)
Next up is Simon Avery’s Sunflower Junction. Here, our narrator finds himself following a line of intrigue as to the whereabouts of underground musician Hugo Lawrence, whose sole album recording appears to have the power to pierce the psyche, manifesting dreams as broken, husk-like flower representations.
Hugo’s music was never perfected, however, and he withdrew from the public eye. Taking a detour from his own listless, meaningless daily existence, Avery’s narrator sets out to track down the elusive Lawrence – but what he finds is not entirely what he’d like… even if it is precisely what he needs.
As a writer, Avery is incredibly talented at creating lives – building surroundings, points of view and a general sense of the values that allow his characters to live as they do. His narrator, here, lives in an old townhouse shared between him, an alcoholic lady, and a smack-addicted man whose sole happiness in life he can only extract from memories of the past.
It’s dark, sure, but unmistakably human – an overarching theme that Avery uses to build fantastical (if grim) perspectives on the nature and function of creativity and escapism, thought and emotion. Sunflower Junction is an absorbing experience – helped along by the classical “missing person” mystery and creative MacGuffin (for which yours truly is most definitely a sucker) – and much more thought-provoking than one may expect, all told. (Dread Central)
Going Back to the World opens the curtains for this issue’s fiction with our protagonist, Susanna, receiving a drunken phone call from her ex-husband, Jack. Frustrated with his self-pitying, she puts the phone down on him – but not before he makes a chilling declaration: “It won’t stop following me, Suze. It’s been fucking following me for six months now. I don’t sleep anymore because I’m terrified of it, of what it’ll do.”
That night, Jack commits suicide via a cocktail of drink and drugs, leaving Susanna to inherit the large home in which he lived alone. She moves in with a view to getting rid of the contents before selling the house… but there seems to be something else in there with her – something that bangs around downstairs, switches off the lights and watches from the darkened havens of doorways and corners. Something that doesn’t seem to be held at bay by the ritualistic sigils painted all over the house.
Avery’s tale has everything it needs to make it a compelling page-turner of a read. The creepy set-up, brooding sense of unease, mysterious journals and thoroughly human characters all come together for a gripping yarn. When Susanna meets up with Jack’s erstwhile mistress, Felicity, Avery skilfully weaves his way through Susanna’s initial distasteful reaction to the woman before she realises that acting in such a manner simply won’t change the past. It makes Susanne a refreshingly logical character, and together she and Felicity set out to bring an end to what Jack has brought into being within the house – but in a surprising turn, Avery switches from the monster formula to something much more abstract and thematically inclined. It lends extra weight to the finish of a tale filled with the guilt and shame of shattered pasts, but in moving into that very personal darkness it somewhat lessens the threat and fear of its central creature. This is rather necessary, however, for Avery’s intentions when it comes to his treatise on the acceptance of past mistakes, letting go of toxic grudges and moving on with life. (Dread Central)