The Ballad of Boomtown

There was a time when we put our faith in Euros, shares and the sanctity of brick. A time when we bought our books from stores as big as barns and ate strawberries from Andalusia, when only a generation before they’d been grown on farms up the road.

The wide avenues of Boomtown were named for trees when there was grand optimism for growth. Now nothing booms in Boomtown. It’s bust and broken.  

I miss you. You were a lick of cream. I can still taste you.


I wrote this after reading an estimate that there were 2, 881 semi or unoccupied housing developments in Ireland in 2011. I had an image of a woman living alone at the abandoned end of an estate and it gnawed at me. I wanted to know why she was there.

This story was a lesson for me. It was longlisted for the Aeon Award Short Fiction Contest, 2011. When it didn’t make the shortlist I reread it and realised that it needed 500 unnecessary words slashed out of it. So- edit, edit, edit. Thankfully the trimmer version was published in Issue 28 of Black Static.

I’m delighted that it’s included in Locus’ 2012 Recommended Reading List.

This story is to be reprinted in Ellen Datlow’s  The Best Horror of the Year 5 (2012), Night Shade Books.

black static 28


 Reviews The Best Horror of the Year Volume 5

Cycles of passion, as well as cycles of finance, set against the eternity of myth. Boom and big bang. DF Lewis, The Nemonicon (Full review)

Guilt trip of a story, sharply written, characters keenly drawn. I felt the witches element a little shoe-horned into the piece with the one-off extract from Songs Of Stone, but nevertheless it’s a piece that works well with a quietly devastating ending. Andrew Hook

2 thoughts on “The Ballad of Boomtown

  1. Sara says:

    I read the same article…this is a superbly creepy take on it.

    • Hi Sara,
      There’s lots of news reports and documentary clips on YouTube too. Normally I take ages to build up a sense of place around characters- this is the only time I’ve written a story the other way around, trying to hammer out why they fit in the landscape.
      Pri xxx

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