The Problem With Pork
This story was written back in the day when I thought that you basically had to wait until inspiration struck before writing anything. I think this may well be the third story idea that I ever came up with.
Under its original title of Meat, it was highly commended in the 1993 (yes, really) Ian St James Awards. If I'd realised the significance of this, I would have tried a lot harder to get more stuff published back then. As it was, I was just miffed that it hadn't made the shortlist and I went off in a sulk.
Still under the title of Meat, but heavily re-edited, it was then - rather pleasingly - longlisted in the 2007 Fish Short Story Prize.
After another substantial edit and now under its final title, it won a supplementary prize at the 2009 Bournemouth Short Story Competition.
This story introduced me to the idea that the theme may be completely different from the subject. Ostensibly, it's a sci-fi story about the results of contamination of the food chain, whereas it's mostly about filial disappointment. I'm not entirely sure whether I'm the father or the son in it; I was probably the son when I wrote it, but I may well have mutated into the father as the years have gone by.
One thing that I had endless trouble with was the name of the ceremony. I originally went with Barbecue, but the trouble with that was that it was very close to Bar mitzvah, and in the context of a story about eating pork at a coming-of-age ceremony, that seemed more than a little offensive. So I switched first of all to Roast (which has acquired some dodgy baggage of its own lately) and finally to Feast. Which is a bit bland, unfortunately, and loses the thing that Barbecue had of being something we take for granted now. There are always compromises to be made, unfortunately.