24 Short Stories
Some will make you laugh and some may make you cry, but all will make you think!
Why did I bother to write these stories? It’s a good question. At first sight, they appear to be just an eclectic mix of random anecdotes. In reality, they represent a journey of self-discovery.
It started just after I published my first book., The Blue Crown. Written primarily for my granddaughters, I felt pleased with my efforts. It seemed well received by its initial audience of family and friends. Of course, they were all very polite. That was until I asked for it to be reviewed by a school friend. He was an author and an old hand in the art of publishing. After much coaxing on my part and his concerns about our continued friendship, he gave it to me straight. “Great story, lousy writing.” In hindsight, I guess it was the response I was half expecting, but it was still a bit of a shock. I am a Scorpio, and anyone familiar with the star sign will know that we do not accept second best. My friend’s response (yes, we are still friends) prompted the obvious question: How can I improve it? This was the start of my creative writing journey.
Needless to say, The Blue Crown was re-written. Superfluous words were removed under my friend’s guidance, and sentences were reconstructed. However, the process did not stop there. There were lessons to be learnt about character building, hook points, page-turners, and, most importantly, emotional involvement. There was only so much that a friend could do to help in this respect. It required more input. This came from a group of like-minded enthusiasts who gathered on Tuesday mornings to discuss the art of creative writing. We were led, and still are, by a very patient tutor who forced us to dig deep into our literary souls and take stock. His real love was poetry, and through this medium, we discovered passion. An essential part of the creative writing process. Could we write with passion? For most of us, it was difficult. We had been conditioned by life and brought up in a time of stiff upper lip. It took months of carefully constructed exercises to help us backtrack and feel comfortable expressing ourselves openly.
An excellent place to start this process was our childhood. Those informative years are where first impressions are made. The photo album, and The Harp, fall neatly into this category. They are episodes in my life that remain important to me and, as such, allow me to express love for my grandparents. They were the legacy of a different world. Parents are essential to the growing experience, but, in my day, grandparents set the standards. First Kiss is another real-life childhood event that we have all experienced in our time. True passion. The question is, can you remember yours? While on the subject of childhood, there was another experience in my life when I was lucky enough to make friends with a country vet. Something like the series – All creatures great and small. It resulted in my first dabble with poetry called The Boy, the horse, the vet. It is strange the things that stay in your mind.
Another challenge set by our tutor was to describe a photograph, not from a clinical aspect but from a sense of what may lie behind it. My other grandfather centres around this concept, although it also has a strong nostalgic element and balances my family history. The laughing Cavalier, Sweaty hands, The shelter, and The Polish rider focus on a photograph or painting. However, each story is significantly different. They range from a humorous monologue to the tension in post-war Vienna, the seedy part of seaside life, and battlefield comedy.
War is another area where feelings can run deep. Tick Tock combines this with the element of time and tension, while Fallen angel deals with a mental state of fugue. A cognitive and behavioural condition where the victim suffers amnesia that can last for a moment or many years. A more extensive aspect of this is dealt with in Flodden 9th Sept 1513. This short story introduces my latest book, Shortridge; this one is full of passion! Field of miracles is a much softer approach to the concept of war and was written as a tribute to those who fell in the 1st world war. My first attempt at prose.
At the other end of the scale is humour. The cricket match and The dark horse are tongue-in-cheek views of everyday events that quickly get out of hand. You never know where the day will lead you. This is something Doris experiences in Doris does adventure. A dark humour story that will make you look twice at that lovely old lady sitting next to you on the bus.
The darkness continues with the thoughts of a Sicilian mobster who reflects on life in Dance with the devil. There is definitely no humour in this sad tale. Just as there is no humour in That afternoon, which tells of one man’s plight during the famous American dust storms in 1935. His despair is palpable.
On a lighter note, who does not believe in fairies? The truth about fairies is an essay about fairy history and how it evolved over time. It also sets the background for The Blue Fairy and the Three Princesses. A beautifully illustrated children’s adventure using classic rhyme.
The red wheelbarrow examines the rhythm of life from a different angle. It deals with death and rebirth and demonstrates that life goes on.
History features again in The chosen one, the revised introduction to The Blue Crown. It sets the scene for a coming-of-age adventure that spans a time gap between ancient and modern Egypt. Who knew the Egyptians were created from the tears of the sun god Ra? The sequel to this story is The Long Dragon. which includes a chapter called The awakening. I thought it was only cats that had nine lives!
The Hunt continues the animal theme by explaining how a reptile with tiny ears and poor eyesight can sense the presence of prey just by taste and smell. The Lake is a more docile reflection on hunting and revolves around my passion for fishing. Do not worry. I will not bore you with tales of the one that got away.
The index page gives the average time to read each story. This depends on your reading speed, but it is a good indicator and will allow you to pace yourself. There are stories here to fit most time slots.
I hope that you enjoy the journey.