Wednesday, 13 November 2019

A Guest Post About Nothing: Amanda Steel

On 29th November, we’re having a belated birthday party for Nothing, an anthology of short stories I edited for Hic Dragones (writing as Hannah Kate). In the run-up to our not-quite-a-launch party, I’ve invited some of the authors whose work is included in the book to tell me a bit about their stories.

Today’s guest is Amanda Steel, author of ‘The Empty People’, one of the stories in Nothing.

It might have been the first time I wrote a story for a specific theme. Before writing ‘The Empty People’, I used to adapt stories I had already written to fit whatever the theme was for a submission call. That might be why I never had much success.

I remember thinking of ideas to suit the ‘nothing’ theme.

At the time, I was working in social media and liked a guy I worked with, despite getting mixed signals from him. I thought it would be great if I could just forget about the guy I worked with, because like most things (or people) you try to forget about, you end up thinking about them even more.

That’s how the idea for my story began. It was around the time I’d just self-published a novella called After the Zombies. I combined the two ideas of a zombie apocalypse and people having their individual memories removed. Of course, it all goes wrong and although they don’t become zombies, they are very much like zombies in the way they can no longer think for themselves.

Since writing this story, I’ve written several novels and short stories. I’ve self-published some, had a publisher take on one of them (my YA book First Charge), and I’ve had various poems and stories in anthologies and online publications. I even had a short horror story recorded on a podcast. That was a surreal experience, to hear my story read by professional voice artists. I also met someone who I didn’t want to forget about, and we’ve been together for almost three years now.

When I wrote ‘The Empty People’, it helped to meet Hannah Kate (on her radio show, Hannah’s Bookshelf) and get a sense for what she might want in the anthology. Writing for a specific publication is something I’ve continued to do and seems to be how I get most of my acceptances. ‘The Empty People’ was also my first taste of the editing process, which prepared me for having a full-length novel accepted by a publisher and working on that with an editor.

It’s strange to look back at my short story now. Not only has my writing changed and expanded since then, but when I was writing the story I couldn’t imagine ever standing up and reading it (or anything else) in public. I wouldn’t even have considered reading an extract in public. Now I’ve gone on to perform at several regular open mic events, try out new nights, and I’ve even done a reading in my hometown of Bradford. So it doesn’t seem too daunting.

If you’re wondering how ‘The Empty People’ ends… you’ll have to read the book. I can tell you that my characters don’t end up winning the lottery and riding to Disneyland on a unicorn.


Amanda Steel is a multi-genre author based in Manchester, UK. Her books include: First Charge, After the Zombies, Not Human, and Love, Dates and Other Nightmares. Amanda is the author of Lost and Found (under the pen name Aleesha Black). She co-hosts Reading in Bed, a monthly book review podcast. This is available on Bandcamp and Mixcloud. Her books are available on Amazon and various e-book platforms, including Apple, Kobo and Nook.

The Belated Birthday Party for Nothing is on Friday 29th November, 7pm, at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Cambridge Street, Manchester. It’s a free event, with readers from the authors and launch party discount on the books. For more information, or to book a ticket, please click here.

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