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If you haven’t heard of the On Fire anthology, this mini-interview and excerpt series will showcase the amazing authors I get to work with and their writing. Meet Stephen McQuiggan.

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What motivates you to write?

I can’t sing, I can’t play guitar, and I’m extremely unphotogenic.

What is the first book or story that made you cry?

Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell because it’s so bleak and it feels inevitable. Ghost Story by Peter Straub because it was just so damn good. The Almond Tree by Jon Stallworthy – a poem about an expectant father rushing to the birth of his son only to find the child has Down syndrome. The use of metaphor is exquisite, the whole thing is moving beyond words, and the final verse kills me every time.

What do you find to be the easiest thing about writing? What is the hardest?

The hardest is time – I work long shifts and seem to always be burning the midnight oil, scribbling out my demons when everyone else is asleep. The easiest? I haven’t figured that one out yet – writing is more of a compulsion for me, though it can be very satisfying.


From “The Passing of Mickey Rulebook” by Stephen McQuiggan:

Roaming aimlessly, Ben found himself on the quiet road to Kervale cemetery; his feet dragged him here whilst his thoughts were elsewhere, just as Mickey had dragged the bodies of those two poor boys and…

He needed to say goodbye to Mickey, say farewell to the crazy notions he had planted in his head, to bury this madness alongside its progenitor.

The wind blew through the railings in a high-pitched howl, an echo of the forlorn wail the child had made when Mickey stoved in his face with the jerry can. The boy’s small pink arms twitching as he gurgled in a pool of his own blood. Woody was still screaming, stumbling toward the fire and falling in, his yells crescendoed before dying as abruptly as the snap of a green knot in a winter hearth.

Cody looked down on the mutilated Jonathan, pouting as if about to cry, the flames reflected in his ratty, red eyes. He laughed when Mickey cracked a half-empty wine bottle into his cutesy, freckled nose. Cody heaped, his shorts covered in grass stains and blood; he’s gonna be in so much trouble with his mum when she sees the state of his good clothes.

Benji.” Mickey said; he hadn’t called him that since the first days of primary school, and Ben had warned never to again. His friend was terrified, so scared that he was forgetting all the rules.

Mickey dragged Cody toward the fire, babbling about getting rid of the evidence and sending them back to Hell, and Ben helped him fling the child onto the pyre. He burned like a sausage on a stick.

Mickey spouted shit about demons. “You saw Benji, you fucking saw.”

But all Ben could see were the kids’ faces peeling and the mad, staring eyes of Michael Muir.


Stephen McQuiggan liked nothing more than walking under ladders, breaking mirrors, and taunting magpies until he fell into a sudden and inexplicable coma. His first novel, A Pig’s View Of Heaven, is available now from Grinning Skull Press.

ON FIRE is available now: Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and our press store.