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Alive Again

‘You’ve never stolen anything in your life!’ Mum said.

‘So why would I start now?’ I said, but my voice sounded thin. ‘Think about it, Mum. I didn’t steal the sandwich. I promise!’

Mum shook her head sadly. ‘But how did it get into your bag? I mean, no one else could have put it there.’

‘Yeah? Well it wasn’t ME,’ I yelled.

I had no idea who had swiped the sandwich, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being punished.

Two weeks ago, Monty died. And it was all my fault. 


I wrote the first draft of Alive Again in 2001 and it took ten years and numerous redrafts to get it working. I find it poetic that the publication date for Head Spinners was exactly ten years after that first draft of one of the stories.

The idea for this story came from an ad on TV where a can of tuna was flipping around like a fish out of water. I developed it into a ‘reforming fish’ because of ‘pluripotent’ stem cells – where scientists can reprogram cells so that they are capable of becoming any cell in the adult body. The eventual application of this technique could be to repair and heal parts of your body – so I just pushed the idea to its limits... pieces of fish becoming alive again.

This story is also very much about death and regeneration and how all living things depend on the death of others in order to survive – animals die and become food for other animals, or simply decompose in the ground to provide food for microbes and plants. It’s not so much an obsession with death as a fascination with regeneration and the cycles of life. I also find it fascinating that there are elements in my body that have been cycling through different states since the beginning of time, and will continue to do so long after I have gone.  

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