Author Archives: Craig Pay

About Craig Pay

Craig Pay writes speculative fiction. His short stories have been published in various magazines receiving positive reviews from the Guardian newspaper, Interzone and Strange Horizons. In 2011 he won the NAWG David Lodge Trophy. In 2013 he completed a master’s degree in Creative Writing from Bolton University, receiving the Vice Chancellor's Prize. Craig runs a writing group in Manchester. He enjoys Chinese martial arts and many other hobbies. Craig has recently completed a science-fiction / Chinese mythology novel set in Titan orbit. He is represented by John Jarrold.

Meeting: 8th December

Hi everyone, apologies for the delay but I’ve had a couple of days annual leave so I’ve been out of the house. Another great meeting on Wednesday. We had six members attending with two newcomers – welcome to Jammill and Hakim! Hakim is starting a Spec Fic group over in Liverpool if anyone’s interested. Drop him an email at

Quick roundup of Wednesday’s submissions:

  • Craig presented a short story about a young man and his relationship with his father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. There was mincemeat and a ghost. Lots of feedback about the use of point of view.
  • John presented a short story featuring an argument between a man and a woman. He awoke to find himself locked outside their conjugal abode – bit of a problem when it’s a craft in space. There was much feedback, including a discussion about some good old Newtonian physics.
  • Dave presented a short story about a character in a series of computer games. We all logged on for some PvP and pwned each other. Then we discussed formatting, the use of multiple letters and the ending.
  • Jammill presented a Spec Fic screenplay with a sprinkling of police procedure. This is the first time we’ve looked at a screenplay rather than straight prose and it prompted much debate, as well as an honest acknowledgement from most members (except for Dave) of a lack of experience with the form. Plenty of discussion (and education) on screenplay formatting and a little chat about police procedure.
  • Guy presented the second chapter of his Night Work novel. There was a little hetero uncertainty when it came to responding in a politically correct way to the relationship presented in the scene. We also talked about narrator voice and dialogue.
  • Hakim presented a short story with the tree Yggdrasil, a crystal sword and a duck. There was also some extremely well hidden object-orientated programming. We iterated our way through our responses and learnt a new word: monad.

Next meeting: Wednesday 12th January 7pm start as usual. I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to make this one but I’ll still send out reminders and so on. I’ll email nearer the time when I know for sure (birthday the following day).

Have a very merry Christmas, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Day of the Return of the Wandering Goddess, Yule and whatever else you might be celebrating.


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Meeting: 10th November

Another great meeting with six stories submitted and critiqued.

I have to dash off to work for a training course (boo-hiss) so the dry facts are as follows:

  • Rob presented a chapter from a novel he is writing which describes a torture scene. There was a detailed discussion on the use of third person point of view and we also looked at the characters in the scene.
  • Ben presented a very short story called Deep Matter as well as a chapter from his novel All Creatures Great With Chips. We discussed the dialogue used in All Creatures as well as naming and whether the theme of the Acquirer might have been used before. There was one paragraph which knocked everyone’s socks off.
  • Dave presented the first half of a short story called Architecture. We chatted about info-dumping and dialogue. I think we’re all intrigued that Dave doesn’t know how it’s going to end yet.
  • Guy presented a story called Night Work. We discussed how this gritty story had been cut down from a much longer length. The were-elephant works surprisingly well.
  • Craig presented a very short story called The Cake is a Lie. The use of second person certainly stirred up quite a debate. See: Marmite.
  • John presented a chapter from a longer piece of work (possibly a novella?) called Packages. We discussed character naming, adjectives and metaphors. There might be some sneaky dialogue info-dumping but everyone loved the characters, especially their clothing habits.

We popped along to a bar afterwards and carried on with the chat over beer and grapefruit juice (well, I was on the juice). Great evening, thanks, and see you at the next one!

Next meeting is Wednesday 8th December.

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Meeting: 13th October

Another great meeting last night followed by a short alcohol-free pub crawl until we finally managed to find a pub noisy enough so we couldn’t hear ourselves think. Five manuscripts critiqued.

Quick summary of the discussion:

  • Short stories of epic length with temporal gaffs and questionable meteorological accuracy.
  • Welsh stones, time travel and Alf.
  • Poetic atmospherics, canine physiology and tense perfection.
  • A gun. And aliens. And spaceships.
  • Snow, vodka and linguistics.

A big hello to Guy Garrud who joined us last night. All research questions on fire investigation forensics to him please.

Ben raised an idea for starting a website for the group. He’s going to send an email around so I won’t steal his thunder but it involves writing to a theme alongside the usual meetings and the possible involvement of other published authors.

Next meeting is Wednesday 10th November, 7pm. I’ve moved the manuscripts from last night into the Archive folder in the DropBox but John raised a good point about why we’re storing these unless they’re previous chapters of novels being critiqued for new members to review. Feel free to remove anything you don’t want left lying around in there.

Please remember to submit your manuscripts into the DropBox at least a week in advance of the next meeting (by 3rd November please).

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Meeting: 8th September

Great meeting last night, plenty of laughs and we finished on time…with six manuscripts critiqued. Nice work!

A quick summary of last night’s discussion:

  • Cute girls from Iceland who kill people.
  • The merits of modern wine bars versus the more traditional pub in an urban fantasy setting.
  • Papier mache, the moon and autism.
  • Naming conventions in the afterlife.
  • Rubber mallets and torture (blancmange, optional).
  • Mayflies, white space and spoilers.

Next meeting is Wednesday 13th October and we’ll be spinning the bottle at 7pm promptly. Drinks afterwards across the road for those that want to hang around.

Please drop your work into the DropBox a week in advance. See you all there!

PS. I’m declaring an end to the gun embargo. Bring your flak jackets. I’ll be packing heat.

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