Touching the Starfish by Ashley Stokes

Touching the Starfish by Ashley Stokes
ISBN 978 -0-9564223-0-9:
 Unthank Books, 2010.
Ashley Stokes’s Touching the Starfish stars Nathan Flack, a writer exiled in a backwater teaching creative writing to a group of high-maintenance cranks and fantasists. When a very literary ghost by the name of James O’Mailer starts to haunt Flack, he has to ask himself: is he sinking into a nether world of delusion, or is he actually O’Mailer’s instrument?
In this comic novel, a Chosen One has great responsibility forced upon him, an age-old institutional conspiracy underpins Western Civilization and, crucially, an apocalyptic medieval battle decides all at the climax. 
“Crisp, witty and scalpel-sharp, Touching the Starfish doesn’t miss a trick in its arch depiction of the orthodoxies and absurdities of Creative Writing Programmes and the many varieties of pond-life to be found therein. It’s deadly accurate too on the often hilarious miseries of the writing life.” Lindsay Clarke
“The plot is remarkable, twisting in ways that surprise {. . .} highly poignant.” Concrete.
“Comic writing doesn’t get better than this.”
“The work of an anarchic imagination stuffed with incident and mordantly humorous observations.” Eastern Daily Press.
Read the first chapter for free at:
Ashley Stokes is an editor, novelist and short story writer based in Norwich, England. His stories have appeared in Pretext, EM, Hard and Other Stories (UEA Texts), Take 20 (UEA), Signals 3, Spiked, England Calling, Unthology, Bonfire, Staple and The Creative Writing Coursebook. He won a 2002 Bridport Short Story Award for The Suspicion of Bones. His first novel,Touching the Starfish was published in 2010 by Unthank Books. A short story collection, The Syllabus of Errors will appear in 2011 and he is the author of the blog-novel SubGrubStreet. (

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