So, what do you get when you cross two hyperactive fiction writers with one dynamic comic book artist who’s also a writer? An ingenious new short story collection called FREAKS (The Friday Project), that’s what.
Caroline Smailes (author of Like Bees to Honey – The Friday Project), Nik Perring (author of Not So Perfect – Roast Books), and illustrator Darren Craske (author of The Cornelius Quaint Chronicles – The Friday Project) have joined together to create a story collection like no other. Lavishly illustrated throughout, FREAKS is a collection of 50 (yep, 50) very short stories which explore ordinary characters who have been gifted with an extraordinary ability.
To be found within the pages FREAKS is a woman called ‘The Photocopier’ who can reproduce herself at will. There’s also a zombie hairdresser who’s able to reanimate herself every time she dies. Then there’s a man who is able to break into the dreams of his lover. And perhaps most disturbing of all, there’s a woman who wears My Little Pony pants who…nah I’ll let you discover this woman’s quirk for yourself .
Now, I don’t normally plug a book in this way on RobAroundBooks unless I’m in the midst of reviewing it (and I will be, in good time), but I have good reason to speak about FREAKS at this time. You see, the publisher has allowed me to feature one of the stories, and the illustration by Darren that accompanies it. It’s the story I’m told which perhaps best illustrates the flavour and tone of FREAKS, and although we don’t know whether it was Nik or Caroline who penned this particular story (they’ve chosen to keep the author of each story a secret), I do know that it’s a powerful and affecting one. Go ahead, read it for yourself (click on illustration to see an enlarged version of it):
[Super Power: The ability to make oneself unseen to the naked eye]
If I stay totally still,
if I stand right tall,
with me back against the school wall,
close to the science room’s window,
with me feet together,
if I make me hands into tight fists,
make me arms dead straight,
if I push me arms into me sides,
if I squeeze me thighs,
stop me wee,
if me belly doesn’t shake,
if me boobs don’t wobble,
if I close me eyes tight,
so tight that it makes me whole face scrunch,
if I push me lips into me mouth,
if I make me teeth bite me lips together,
if I hardly breathe,
if I don’t say a word.
I’ll magic meself invisible,
and them lasses will leave me alone.
FREAKS is available to buy right now from all good bookshops. An electronic version of FREAKS is also available to buy. Check out the publisher’s website for further details.
Before I go I just want to reaffirm that I will be reviewing FREAKS myself, in good time. I know I probably sound way too positive about this one, even before I’ve read it, but I have good reason. You may remember I’ve featured Nik Perring on RobAroundBooks quite extensively in the past, in my still to be concluded (*blush*) Flash Clash challenge? I can vouch both for Nik’s ingenuity and his amazing ability to make the shortest of short story forms zing with life and meaning. Caroline Smailes I’ve never read, but I know she is setting the publishing world on fire right now with some very clever writing (her 99 Reasons Why novel, for instance). Darren Craske I don’t know at all, but he’s a comic book illustrator for God’s sake. How much more creative can a mind me? So my excitement for FREAKS may be premature, but hopefully you can see why.