Category: Uncategorized

Happy Valentine’s, Mr Cappuccino Baby!



‘It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.’

– Robert Benchley


Happy Valentine’s, Mr Cappuccino Baby!

I decided to try something hot and sunny for Valentine’s Day. After making a few calls, I packed my suitcase and headed to the airport. I arrived off the coast of Africa somewhere in the afternoon. I dumped my case in my hotel room and headed out to explore the grounds. It was totally awe-inspiring. As I passed the bar and started down a path towards the beach, I felt like I was being followed. Abruptly, I stopped and turned. A man stood there. I didn’t fancy him, but he wasn’t an eyesore either. I’d say a blendering of old school Mickey Rourke and Bruce Willis. But to be honest, I wasn’t doing a ‘How-Stella-Got-Her-Groove-Back’ number, or expecting any stalkeratzi so early in the game. Briefly, we chatted before he invited me for a drink. Why not, I thought! But as we turned around, the path veered away from the bar towards the hotel block.

‘Where are you going?’

‘This way.’ he said, over his shoulder. ‘We drink in my room for Valentine’s.’

I mean, I hadn’t even been there half an hour! Anyway, after scraping my jaw off the ground, I eyeballed long and hard. I knew what kind of ‘drink’ he had in mind. Flinging two bad and toxic words at him, I left him wilting in the sun.

A little parched I headed to the bar for a cocktail or three. There were a few loved-up couples and a few singles sprinkled here and there. About an hour passed before he surfaced, filling the doorway. He pulled up a stool, perched at the bar and ordered. After dragging his stool closer to mine, he wiped his forehead with the back of his hand, and spewed torrents of compliments about my skin. In short, he thought we could get married and have cappuccino babies. What could I say? I felt like giving him one Batman-esque K-A-P-O-W, but thought better of it! Instead, my eyes welled and I erupted in hysterical fits of laughter. Quickly, I knocked back my nth cocktail and exited stage left.

I spent the following day lounging under the bluest of skies. My skin radiated like the black gold of the sun. A faint breeze kissed my neck telling me it was time to freshen up for dinner at the Waterside Restaurant. Afterwards, while Valentining couples got it on, I decided to venture out and walk dinner off. Not once did I feel fear of any kind, but that was to change in a matter of minutes. It wasn’t even that late when it happened, but everyone had gone in for the evening’s entertainment. I was truly alone. At least I thought I was.

Kicking off mules, I enjoyed the cool, damp sand between my toes. I trudged along the crescent-shaped stretch of white sand beach, lined with palm trees and stunning blue water. A magical moment of pure bliss and serenity. When I got to the end, I scanned the horizon and looked back from where I came. That’s when I saw the stomping figure. My heart pounded like no one’s business.

As he neared, I couldn’t quite see his face, but my gut told me it was him. Mr Cappuccino Baby. Trembling with shock, I walked back in the hope I’d pass him and head back to my room. But as I drew abreast of him, he sidestepped, blocking my way.

We stood almost nose-to-nose. My nostrils flared because of the alcoholic attack from his breath. Starey, glazed eyes were framed with deep black grooves, which made him look like Grim’s brother. I breathed hard. There was no one around as far as I could see, and I’d left my phone locked in the safe in my room.


Eventually, he smiled and wagged his finger, then shot off at an unexpected pace. Awashed with relief, I swallowed and tried to get a grip. As I reached my block, I looked around. Then, suddenly, there he was… marching towards me with something shining in his hand…


Check out more short stories:
Muddy Love
Yellowest Orange




10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Writing!



Here are 10 things I wish I’d known before I started writing…

1.            Writing is hard… hard… and erm… hard! Make no bones about it, it’s a HARD road to travel for all sorts of reasons! The brain gets tired, you’ve got to work and can’t always summon the muse.

2.            Feedback – Seeking constructive feedback from industry professionals can be costly but worth it!  This is great because it gives you renewed confidence when resending work.

3.            Reviews – Asking for them is like asking a rock to kizomba. It’s not easy asking in the first place, but it’s one of those ‘perks’ of the job.

4.            Bad Reviews – They suck, but you get over it. Every man and his dog has an opinion. Life!!           

5.            CriticsWatch out for ‘armchair authors’ who are a lot like ‘armchair politicians.’ Enough said…

6.            Friends & Family – It’s definitely no shoo-in. Do not rely on it, it might break your heart. 😉 If I had a pound for everyone who promised to write a review, I’d be living in the Hollywood Hills with Cher and Snoop. However, that being said, strangers are more inclined to offer support.

7.            Creative writing workshops – Some say they’re no good, but how else can you test your work? You can’t sit in a bubble and say you’re a writer unless it’s for your eyes only. In reality, after much drafting, rewriting, spell checking, proofing etc., you have to get out there, chance your arm to see if it works. Also, workshops provide a good support network.  We’re all in the same boat! 😉

8.         Negativity – You have to stay positive no matter what. Also, you’re always growing as a writer. So you may look at something you wrote — even last year, and think, crikey.

9.         Hats – You have to wear many hats. So you’re a writer and you’ve written a ton of stories. Then what? Well, there’s this thing called marketing. So you get someone to get the ball rolling because you think you can only do the creative part, right? Wrong! Tried it and learnt an expensive lesson. People so eager to exploit to take your money to shop in Lidl’s. So you do it yourself. Baby steps mind you. Start with a blog and plug yourself into a couple of social media outlets. Then you start spinning plates to keep everything going. Initially, I had doubts about ‘coming out’ (with writing) on social media, but when I saw people getting naked, twerking, etc. I thought, might as well give it a go!

10.         Confidence – You must believe in yourself and defend your work at all costs. I have on occasion had people say the strangest things. Can you believe there are people who swear they know what you’re trying to say! Absolutely ludicrous!

It’s all good fun!! 😉

Check out my short stories:

Muddy Love
Yellowest Orange


10 Things People Shouldn’t Say To Writers!

number-38423__180 redten

‘The idea is to write so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.’

– Maya Angelou


Here are 10 things people shouldn’t say to writers…


1. So, you’re the next J.K. Rowling, eh?


Why should we all strive to be someone else? I write like me 😉 It also irks me when people say some up-and-coming is the new Aretha Franklin etc. I don’t mind if they say x reminds them of, but there will never be another! God only makes one-offs!


Simone Biles: ‘I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.’


2. Why did you write that? I would’ve done it like, …


They go on to explain in chapter, line and verse, like it’s their story.


3. Did you write those Amazon reviews yourself?


I mean, why would you say that? I guess it’s a case of liars thinking everyone lies etc.


4. Writing doesn’t make money! Get a proper job!


Is everything about money? I write because I love creative expression. Also, I have a proper job! And it’s not about money, it’s about inspiring and motivating children to become the greatest version of themselves.


5. Are you deluded? I mean, what makes you think you can write?


This was from someone whose last reading experience was good ol Peter and Jane! No joke. No comment necessary.


6. You must be a good liar!


What can you say to this? Daren’t waste energy giving an answer. It might not come out right!


7. Do you just want to shock people?


To write, you have to find something that ‘gets’ to you in one way or another. It has to sustain your interest long enough for you to write stories with a beginning, middle and end. And is a brilliant read! 😉


8. Are you published yet?


If you say yes, it’s good. But, if say no, you’re nothing! People can be funny creatures! They only think you’re good enough if you’re published. I’d bet there are millions of people who can write, but haven’t had the lucky break.


9. How’s the novel going?


I told them a million times… I only write short stories. Someone’s not really listening…


10. Why don’t you write this? It’s a wicked story, right…


They give you some verbal diarrhoea about aliens living next door to Justin Bieber eating cake in California…


It’s all good fun!! 😉


Check out my short stories:


Muddy Love
Yellowest Orange



Tempestuous Katie & Light Relief With A Stranger!


Pushing end of term, or rather being dragged towards it, I had the usual attack of wanderlust to fly the hell out of Dodge and seek Easter rays!

Found myself googling tons of last minute holidays.  Luckily, or so I thought, a cheap deal to Arrecife, Lanzarote with a bungalow. Me – in a bungalow by myself! Marvellous!

Tempestuous Katie

The night before travelling, I woke to a howling akin to a Hammer House of Horror flick. An almighty storm had taken over the bedroom. I lay in full-blown panic attack mode, as I had three hours to go before my flight. After an hour, I tried to block it out, but to no avail.

The storm continued to blow. I mean, B-L-O-W-! I trawled through all the things that could go wrong. For example, the roof being torn off, the cabbie not making it, missing the flight, or the plane plummeting into the drink.

Anyway, I got up and started getting ready without looking outside. But dawn wouldn’t stop taunting me through the slatted blinds.

In a matter of seconds, I tugged the blind cord to see fence panels strewn all over the place, like that old TV show — It’s A Knockout! Quickly, I dropped the blind and paced.

Then the mobile rang, so I gulped coffee, not tasting the bitterness, and went outside. With great relief, I checked my watch, five-thirty, as planned.

En route to the airport, we drove through a scene from Armageddon! Trees, branches, bins, and debris tossed all over the roads. Eerily silent for a Monday morning with almost no traffic! Thankfully, it only takes half an hour to get to the airport.

On arrival, we were greeted by a clogged car park with police redirecting traffic in droves. The cabbie thought it’d be a good idea for me to get out and walk. I didn’t agree as I’d paid for the door-to-door service!

Anyway, I soon snapped out of my funk after realising we’d only inched along and were no closer. Reluctantly, I dragged my suitcase inside at six twenty-five.



When inside the airport, I discovered the flight had been delayed owing to tempestuous Katie’s grand appearance!

After a long while, I joined the queue and watched people watch people. In particular, a traffic-stopper with legs for days in a snug micro-skirt and gold knee-high gladiator sandals with stiletto heels.

tempestuous katie


I thought a few things. (1) Wished for her confidence! (2) RAGING. STORM. (3) Men: Conceal. Need. To. Feed. Or. Die. At. Hands. Of. WAGS.

After getting to the departure lounge, I had another wait with people sprawled across rows of seats, then had to keep getting up to see if the boarding gate showed.

Some three hours later, we boarded. I had an aisle seat with extra leg-room. After buckling and relaxing, the plane bumbled its way up into tempestuous Katie’s arms. I prayed, prayed and prayed some more throughout bumpier moments of the four-hour flight.


Eventually we arrived in Arrecife and found the transit to the hotels etc. Other people’s hotels seemed plush, but when we got to mine, crikey!

Strangely enough, my hunger seemed more of a concern. I dragged my case in, registered and waited for it to be taken to the bungalow. They kindly informed me I had to walk some miles to take it myself! I was like, what?!

Then she turned into the living Sat-Nav and started spewing machine-gun directions. Through a fine red mist, I asked for a map.

I trundled off with my suitcase making a racket all the way. As I walked the path through the bungalows, I had my ‘This Is Your Life’ moment, saying a hundred hellos to everyone sat outside on their balconies catching the last of the sun.

Ever so resourceful I made a mental note to find another route, which I did much later — a short cut through a hedge outside my bungalow! 

Anyway, finally got to mine, and to be honest, homely fit the description. I put my case inside and shot back for dinner.

White Hot Hair

The restaurant reminded me of ‘Allo ‘Allo!, albeit without Rene or the gags! White hot hair seemed to be the ‘in’ thing! After a while, they stopped gawping and concentrated on chewing and swallowing.

I started to wonder if I’d made the right choice. I mean, where were the young-ish and funky? Quickly, I ate then set off to explore. Found the bar – again, a bit last chance saloon-ish.

Then discovered I could only get WI-FI outside the bungalow (it was almost darker than midnight!) and in the bar. Seriously?? You can’t tell someone like me with an overripe imagination something like that!

Anyway, I took my beloved IPAD, sat in the bar and had hysterics watching Martin Lawrence and Russell Peters et al doing stand-up comedy on YouTube.


Soul-warming sun cascaded while BBC News kept Brits updated about tempestuous Katie’s havoc in the UK.

Getting my priorities straight, I’d made sure I’d gathered and packed my cache of slingshot bikinis.

Being the great sun-worshipper, I spent the first day getting absolutely toasted and ultra-tasty! Even the IPAD couldn’t cope with the heat and shut down!!

A member of the WHH brigade came over to commend me on how chocolate-y my skin etc. Everyone else just stared, maybe puzzled about me lying in the sun.

girl-1393322_960_720 nekkedLate one afternoon, I returned from od-ing on Vitamin D and consulted the massive, full-length mirror. I can assure you it was no Snow White moment.

I mean, I’m all-the-way athletic (with a few fried dumplings thrown in for good measure!) but reasoned my bikini strings could use help with the load!

Keep fit

In full Rigsby mode (the episode in Rising Damp where he fancied he could beat Phillip at boxing) I squeezed into shorts and scaffolding – in the form of a real tight sports bra, and started with a series of push ups, press ups, squats and lunges.

But this wasn’t enough, was it? I, who hadn’t road-run for donkeys, decided to take it there. I thought I’d have a leisurely jog down the hill and be back in time for dinner!

But as I approached the hill, a big-assed truck steamed towards me, bearing down on a little man running in front of it. The driver could’ve fried an egg with rage the way he honked his horn.

The runner shouted, ‘vamoose, vamoose.’ And the truck seemed dangerously close to him, so I shouted, ‘vamoose, vamoose.’ We stared at each other and laughed. As the truck sped away, we carried on laughing and fell in step, running alongside the beach towards the airport.

As we ran, he told me he came from North Africa and ran marathons for a living. I mean, won medals (all verified by Google!) etc. Also, he ran twice a day, every day in preparation for an upcoming event!

The Great Run

Plodding along next to him, a minute part of me felt Humpty-ish! He just seemed so light on his feet! And this guy persisted in talking! I mean, I’m generally good at multi-tasking, but not the talking-and-running-at-a-quite-pace thing! In the space of twenty or so minutes, we’d managed to exchange a decent amount of information about ourselves!

sea kiss ghetto

When we got to the end of the beach, we stopped and stretched. Then sat on a boulder and gazed across the horizon. We chatted until the fiery orange orb kissed the water tips and disappeared.

Afterwards, we jogged back. Waving him goodbye, I shut the door, kicked off my trainers, lay down on the floor and closed my eyes…





Check out more short stories:
Muddy Love
Yellowest Orange









Interview: M.Henningham PT 2


‘She was tall and dark-skinned and looked like a Nigerian sculpture. She moved like a lioness, her every step bristling with suppressed violence.’

– Bonnie Greer OBE

Interview Cont’d.

17. Can you name one?
A. Soulless, Strawberry Sunset, Iron Dread, The Great Rocco, Yellowest Orange, Venus, Blackballed, The Chamber, Needles, Only 20, Law of Moses, Red Mountain, Insane Reality, Bait ‘n’ Switch, Patch, Twisted etc.

18. OK, wow! How do you manage to write so many?
A. I spend a lot of time in my imagination. When  I’m not listening to music, I love the magic of creating credible worlds.

19. Are they all copyrighted?
A. Absolutely!

15. Putting aside the scary stories, what is the best Michele Henningham story to begin with?
A. I’d say Muddy Love because it’s billed as a wicked comedy. I call it a cockney romp! Who doesn’t like a good laugh! Stephen King has a quote that goes: ‘When a good writer is having fun, the audience is almost always having fun too.’ Entertainment Weekly, August 17, 2007.

16. What is the best story you’ve written?
A. The story I’m working on at the time is always the best! But strangely, I felt quite emotional after finishing Soulless and Yellowest Orange.

17. What themes are found in the stories?
A. Evil overcoming good and vice versa, romance, self-destruction, desperation and greed. The human condition firing on all cylinders!

18. Do you mind if people dislike your writing?
A. Everyone has opinions and you know what they say about opinions? Also, Stephen King says: ‘Don’t worry about making other people happy. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.

19. What is the worst review you’ve had?
A. I engaged a ‘social networking’ (claimed to have access to hundreds of reviewers etc) company to help get reviews and promote my work. A couple of months passed and I heard nothing. When I asked what was going on, they reassured me all would be well. But in the interim I’d managed to get some, so asked for a refund. 

A couple of reviews that followed – Re: Muddy Love – An American ‘author’ wrote that I needed education because I’d desecrated the English language, and that it was full of poop and fart… or words to that effect. An Italian guy wrote that he was learning English and I hadn’t taught him much… or something like that!

On a positive note, it’s all good!  My friend, Musa has a saying that goes,‘Mout Mek Fi Talk.’

Muddy Love_beautonex-image

20. Where is that from?
A. It’s a Jamaican-ism… people are going to talk no matter what!

21. What is the best review you’ve received?
A. To be honest, I’ve had a few nice ones that I’m grateful for… and I didn’t do them myself or pay/blackmail anyone!

22. What story or stories would make the best movie adaptation/s?
A. P.I.G, Strawberry Sunset and The Chamber have been rewritten as screenplays. I’m working on adapting the others. That’s what my weeknights/weekends often look like!

23. Finally, what does Michele Henningham hope for the future?
A. To continue to grow as a writer, to improve, to keep sharing stories with the world, make people laugh, cry, feel something, ANYTHING! What else is there?! I love doing it!

24. OK, it’s a shame this interview is nearly over, but where can people read the rest of your stories?
A. I’ve got Soulless, Yellowest Orange and Muddy Love on Amazon at the moment.

As long as you have an Amazon account you can buy/download and read on smartphones. Oh, and check out the promotion. The other stories will be available once I address the marketing side of things.

25. OK, thanks, it has been very interesting interview. I wish you all very the best!
A. Thank you!

You're Hired

Check out more short stories:
Muddy Love
Yellowest Orange

Interview: M. Henningham, author of Muddy Love. PT 1


                                                     W I T H  M I C H E L E H E N N I N G H A M

‘What you’re doing isn’t about self-expression, it’s about obtaining dominion over the reader, about obtaining power on the page.’

– Gordon Lish

Good afternoon, I’m Quain and today I’m here interviewing published author and screenwriter, Michele Henningham. She writes great books filled with the perils of the human condition. Although one of her stories won a prestigious competition, Miss Henningham prefers to fly under the radar. But she does have a warped sense of humour that will leave you in fits of giggles! If you haven’t read anything by her yet, you’ve really missed out! I’m really honoured to interview you, Michele Henningham.

1. How did it feel to actually win a competition?
A. The validation felt great! Especially as it was playwright, author and critic, Bonnie Greer OBE who selected my story. Funnily enough, a year prior, I told a friend I’d meet her someday. Little did I know…

2. Oh, a bit psychic, are we?
A. Yes, sometimes I’ve got those skills, too…

3. So, what is your star sign?
A. I’m Pisces… with Scorpio rising…

4. Where were you born?
A. Huddersfield, Yorkshire… my parents are from Jamaica.

5. What are some of your favourite hobbies?

images rare groove
A. I love reading, music – love lots of different genres but rare groove in particular. I gym 3-4 times a week, if not more. Determined to get that 10-pack down! Oh, I’ve got a thing about 8-ball Pool! I’m quite a good hustler!!


6. You mentioned reading. Who are some of your favourite authors?
A. It started in primary school with the wonderful Rosa Guy, then I found some Jackie Collins – The Stud etc. A bit later, I came across Stephen King and read e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g! That took me into James Herbert, Dean Koontz et al. I got into Toni Morrison, Terry McMillan, Iceberg Slim, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, Chinua Achebe, E. Lynn Harris, Marsha Hunt, Tobias Woolf, Doris Lessing and Charles Bukowski – just to name few! This’ll be followed up in a later post!

7. So what is your earliest memory of writing?
A. I typed this poem about daffodils when I was 8 years old. Don’t know if that counts. What do you think?

Daffodils Aged 8

Daffodils Aged 8


8. Typed, eh?
A. Yes, a one finger plink, plink, plink with black ribbon and all that jazz!

9. What makes you think you can write?
A. Well, reading others and lots of practise over the years. Also, relentless studying.

10. How long have you been writing stories?
A. Mmmm, for over 20 years now.

11. Have you done courses?
A. Yes, in the past and various workshops around London.

12. What was the first story you aired in public?
A. Soulless…

41Eywn7qtpL._UY250_ soulless

13. How did you feel about it?
A. It’s ultra-risqué, but I read it at workshops in the UK and at Skyros in Greece. It was real quiet afterwards!!  

14. Why so? What is it about?
A. That’d be telling! I can’t give it away! You’ll have to read it to find out…

15. Why do people like to read Michele Henningham’s stories?
A. They like them because they see, hear and feel everything that’s going on. 

16. Where would I find the scariest passages in Michele Henningham’s stories?
A. Mmmm, it’s hard to say because scary is quite subjective, but I’d say they’re in a few.

17. Can you name one?
A. Soulless, Strawberry Sunset, Iron Dread, The Great Rocco, Yellowest Orange, Venus, Blackballed, The Chamber, Needles, Only 20, Law of Moses, Red Mountain, Insane Reality, Bait ‘n’ Switch, Patch, Twisted etc.

End of Part 1 of the interview.

Check out more stories:
Muddy Love
Yellowest Orange

Muddy Love, What’s Up? How a traumatic childhood experience became a funny short story.

2016-04-28 21.17.55 (1)

What’s Up, ‘Muddy Love?’

I’ve written many short stories over the years. It’s not easy but I love the challenge! I’ve met lots of people who want to write them but don’t know where to start. They often ask where ideas come from. Now everyone’s got a different take on this and that’s ok, but in my opinion, everything’s up for grabs. I write about everything and anything!!

‘Write what you know,’ is what ‘gurus’ say to inspire in creative writing workshops. The idea is that you work with what you’ve got in the way of life experiences. In fact, some of my stories were born this way while others are triggered by the tried and tested ‘What If’, or simply spurred on by some kind of injustice!

Yes, life experience is a great way to begin writing stories, as you already have most of the landscape you need. I think about people I’ve met along life’s way, my early years (Barry White comes to mind…) through to adulthood. Consequently, most of the unusual, thrilling, exciting and terrifying moments in my life have given me reams. They say a cat has nine lives. Well, I’m sure I’ve had more!

After reading one day, someone asked about ‘Muddy Love’ and said they knew someone who suffocated in mud. I didn’t want to get into the whole nine of my ordeal so brushed it off as something I’d totally made up. A couple of days ago, I browsed the Internet and came across an extremely touching TED talk: ‘Content is not King’ by Kahlil Ashanti at TEDx SFU, who says it’s not just about content per se, but context that helps readers to connect to story.


This prompted me to come clean, as I thought about how others may benefit from this post. Whether it helps you to find story material and/or purge feelings associated with traumatic experiences.

Truth be told, ‘Muddy Love’ came out of a primary school trip to Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire. I went to a school on Warwick Avenue in London, and I guess we were learning about interesting wildlife and habitats.

I don’t remember any great warnings about quick mud. I don’t remember running around with or without friends, but do remember how terrified I was, as I ran for my life when I almost suffocated in mud. I cried and screamed my head off while trying not to swallow any mud.  My teacher (bless her soul) carried me out and laid me down on a bank. Then as she looked me over, discovered my one shoe, and valiantly returned to muddy arms to get the other. I guess it was an easier feat than trying to explain to a dad who took no prisoners!

So there you have it! I took a real-life experience and gave it a new spin, injecting a kind of humour (some say warped!) into a traumatic experience. I threw in a few characters and created a workable plot. I even had some Keyser Soze (The Unusual Suspects) moments when I looked around and thought hmmm, I’ll sample a little Carl Malcolm from 1975, a bit of that… and that… etc… And that’s how Muddy Love came to be!

Check out my Cockney Romp – ‘Muddy Love’

Maybe you can try this and reframe a traumatic experience by turning it into a story! You may even find it quite cathartic!

Check out more short stories:
Yellowest Orange

Check out Kahlil Ashanti at TEDx SFU: