Madam Velvet’s Cabaret of Oddities by Nancy Stohlman

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I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of Nancy Stohlman up until a few weeks ago, you see I’m quite new to flash fiction, so I’m playing catch-up all the time, discovering new and brilliant voices daily.

But a few weeks ago I had the chance to attend the Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol and on the first night we were treated to a delicious reading from Nancy Stohlman ‘My Mother Was A Circus Clown‘. The way she performed the piece it was as if she’d given it life and it danced right off the page and into the room – this wonderfully odd story struck me in the head with its rubber hammer and I was seeing little tweeting birds and yellow stars, it placed me under its, and her spell, long after she read the final line!

I left there that evening and I was hooked, the following day I marched myself straight into the book shop and bought the god damn book – scolding myself for never having heard of her before.

Do you ever have those moments when you hear a story and you just can’t contain your excitement, you just want to head out and devour the authors work, feast on it until it makes you sick, shout from the rooftops of this new found treasure.

That’s what happened to me, I was desperate for it, needed it, craved it, I was like an addict needing a hit. She’d put a curse on me that I couldn’t shake – so after a long day, I went home and read the book. In one glorious sitting – gorging myself on her fabulous prose, witty characters, dark humour and delectable stories…boy is this flash fiction collection good!

Madam Velvet’s Cabaret of Oddities is as arresting and as alluring as a freak show – you just can’t look away from its gritty brilliance. It’s as barmy as a box of frog’s and the icing on the cake is that it is written by a truly spellbinding voice in flash fiction, and delivers on weird in bucket loads – just how I like my fiction! It’s as if Sarah Hall and Chuck Palahniuk had a drunken fumbling and Nancy Stohlman was their lovechild – such is the unique voice that resonates within this book.

The spiralling narrative and recurring characters aid the storytelling structure Stohlman has opted to use, intricately weaving in subtle hints and clues to what has gone before and where the collection is heading. It is a delicately woven masterclass of Flash Fiction Writing, which makes collection something that you can devour in one sitting, should the mood take you – or something to dip in and out of as you pace yourself.

But whatever mode you choose, whether you read fast, or read slow, one thing is for certain – Nancy Stohlman will dig her talons into your mind and pierce it with her brilliance, you’ll be forever changed – pick up a copy now and discover a writer who writes like no other.

Nancy Stohlman

Nancy Stohlman, is an American flash fiction writer, musician and performer. She is the author of two flash novels, one collection of flash fiction, and the editor of four anthologies, as well as one of the founding members of Fast Forward Press.

Reviewed by Ross Jeffery

STORGY Flash Fiction Competition 2019

We are at it again people, our 2019 Flash Fiction Competition is accepting submissions from 8th July 2019 and will end on the 31st August 2019. So, dust off those stories, write a new one and get submitting! The competition is £5 per flash piece (you can submit more than one story but this would need to be done in separate applications). For those on low or no income we’ve got your back (full details in the post). 500 words only (excluding title). First place wins £100 and a STORGY Bundle, 2nd & 3rd places win a STORGY Bundle – plus all shortlisted stories will feature in a limited edition chap book which will be made available to purchase through STORGY.COM. Click here to go to our post or just check out STORGY.COM for details.


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This is the tale of a town on the fringes of fear, of ordinary people and everyday objects transformed by terror and madness, a microcosm of the world where nothing is ever quite what it seems. This is a world where the unreal is real, where the familiar and friendly lure and deceive. On the outskirts of civilisation sits this solitary town. Home to the unhinged. Oblivion to outsiders.

Shallow Creek contains twenty-one original horror stories by a chilling cast of contemporary writers, including stories by Sarah Lotz, Richard Thomas, Adrian J Walker, and Aliya Whitely. Told through a series of interconnected narratives, Shallow Creek is an epic anthology that exposes the raw human emotion and heart-pounding thrills at the the genre’s core.

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You can also purchase a copy of EXIT EARTH below!



Twenty-four short stories, exclusive afterwords, interviews, artwork, and more.

From Trumpocalypse to Brexit Britain, brick by brick the walls are closing in. But don’t despair. Bulldoze the borders. Conquer freedom, not fear. EXIT EARTH explores all life – past, present, or future – on, or off – this beautiful, yet fragile, world of ours. Final embraces beneath a sky of flames. Tears of joy aboard a sinking ship. Laughter in a lonely land. Dystopian or utopian, realist or fantasy, horror or sci-fi, EXIT EARTH is yours to conquer.

EXIT EARTH includes the short stories of all fourteen finalists of the STORGY EXIT EARTH Short Story Competition, as judged by critically acclaimed author Diane Cook (Man vs. Nature) and additional stories by award winning authors M R Cary (The Girl With All The Gifts), Toby Litt (Corpsing), James Miller (Lost Boys), Courttia Newland (A Book of Blues), and David James Poissant (The Heaven of Animals), and exclusive artwork by Amie Dearlove, HarlotVonCharlotte, CrapPanther, and cover design by Rob Pearce.

Find out more about EXIT EARTH here


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