I suppose one of the biggest problems when choosing which stories to include in the anthology was one of theme. Some of the submissions were an easy choice, they had all the boxes ticked. However, we had a number of beautiful written, well plotted tales sent in that were obviously from folk who had never actually visited the site and seen what we are about. We couldn't put a story in about a kitten called Tiddles next to a tale of murder and revenge. Much as I like kittens, cosy warm, fuzzy fiction just isn't us and more importantly it isn't our readership.
We weren't looking for perfect grammar, although it always helps, we wanted the right kind of story written well enough that the idea or the twist struck us hard. Near To The Knuckle is about that shock factor and that can come from a subtle story or a blood and guts thriller. So whilst Craig and myself were looking for something very particular within our stories we never felt that we were tied exclusively to the crime genre. We have included a supernatural tale and a comic tale because they fit superbly our idea of what Near To The Knuckle is.
There was one story that made me do a double take. The problem? It was too NTTK even for us. A very controversial theme and even the title made me wince. How can we put this story out without being lynched I thought? Well after furious emails back and forth between Craig and Myself and re-reading the story we realised that on reflection the author made a good point and dealt with the theme in an adult way and we should not shy away from the validity of his point just because aspects of it made us uncomfortable. Which story was it? You'll just have to read the anthology and make your own minds up.
We also had to make a conscious decision not to favour friends and supporters of the site. We based anthology places purely on merit. For this reason you'll notice one or two new names that you won't have seen related to the site before. For me the most exciting part was opening each new submission to see what dark world awaited my eager eyes. I know you’ll enjoy the dark delights Gloves Off has to offer.
Darren Sant was born in 1970. He grew up in Stoke-on-Trent and moved to
in 2001. He is happily married to Julie
who tolerates him with the patience of a saint. His childhood was spent in an
area very much like the Longcroft estate and he looks back on it with
fondness. If you’d like to know more about Darren you can find his
website here: http://darrensant-writer.yolasite.com/ And you can find him
on Twitter as @groovydaz39 & @longcroft_tales Hull
Craig Douglas hails from nowhere and lives in Rugby. He was born in Ely, Cambridgeshire, but his northern accent belies this fact. He has live mainly a nomadic lifestyle since as a child moving between MOD posting to another and subsequently feeding his appetite for adventure by joining the Army. Twenty two years has seen him playing out active roles in both empire building and stabilisation.
He knew of his writing potential when he was 14 and a teacher identified this. His work was read out to the class frequently much to his embarrassment. The years have seen a steady development in his writing and only since coming back from a particularly violent tour of Afghanistan he began to write again. His debut work in print was 'The Likely Lads' which featured in Radgepacket Volume 2. He has work in 3 other volumes in that series, one of which features the dreaded See You Next Tuesday word more than in an Irvine Welsh novella whose title had the very same despicable word.
Craig is currently studying for an English Degree with the Open University. He writes a weekly blog which can be found at Gritfiction.com. He is partner in crime to the Near2theKnuckle website and has worked on the 'Gloves Off' Anthology.
He lives in Rugby with his wife and two children.