If you’d like to find out more about the authors just click on their name. If you want to discover more about their fabulous books for yourself, just click on the title. Please do! And if you have any questions or comments for the authors don’t be shy, leave your comments and we’ll get back to you.
First up - Collections by the same author.
“As a writer, I've always liked short stories. I fear that there may be an element of laziness involved. (With me, there usually is an element of laziness). For a writer, a short story is a quick fix. Instead of labouring for months over tens of thousands of words to make a novel, a short story can go from conception to completion in a week or so, or even less. For those of us addicted to unreal worlds, it's a quick fix.
Having said that, I would vigorously deny that the short story is somehow a weaker or lesser literary form than the novel. Everything that a novel should have, should be in a short story. Plot, background, character development, twists, depths, layers, resolutions, confusions, dilemmas … and so on. It's all there, but shorter. Which means that, paradoxically, the writer sometimes has to work harder. One sentence must do the work of a whole paragraph, even a page. Instead of describing a scene in detail (for example), you have to reduce it to the most basic elements that will show the reader what you want them to see.
Short story writing is a great way for writers to hone their skills, to learn to be succinct and precise without losing anything. Plus which, you get the satisfaction of a completed story much quicker!
One problem you can get with short stories is trying to pull them together into a collection. If they have a common theme or character, that's not a problem. My crime scene short stories – 'A Pattern of Murder' – were all written around different aspects of crime scene examination, and so had a natural link. Plus which most of them had the same main character, the rather obnoxious Ben Drummond.
But how do you fit together a group of stories without a common theme, a common, character, or even in some cases, a common genre?
My solution was 'The Minutes of the Reality Escape Committee' - an unusual title, and a bit of a mouthful, but it gave me an excuse to bring together some of the odds and ends of stories that I've written over the years and who's only connection was the author's desire to escape from reality. As one reviewer (so far the only one) mentioned, it makes for an 'eclectic' collection.
And it offers room for expansion. Volume One was fantasy and horror, but I'm already planning a Volume Two, which will be Science Fiction. You can cover a lot of ground with short stories!”
“Last time I dropped in for coffee I discovered my inner werewolf so forgive me if I sit facing the door, not the mirror. Strange things happen here! And in my new book too ... Like you, Babs, I write in a wide variety of genres and I hear all the advice that an author should keep to one genre, build a readership and so on. I also hear the advice that publishing a short story in between novels keeps your readers interested. I’ve broken rules all my life so what actually reached my imagination from all this advice was, ‘Why don’t you bring out a full book of short pieces in all your genres, illustrated by your own art work.’ I sounded out my critical friends, was given encouragement (always a mistake) and now ‘One Sixth of a Gill’ is available for pre-order. The funny thing is that everyone who’s read it is really excited by it and I’m a bit bemused by the fantastic responses I’ve had to my ‘in between novels’ book.
Some of the pieces have been published in journals and anthologies, some have even won prizes but I didn’t have enough in any one genre to publish a book of the ‘Stories of Love and Loss’ type, nor enough poems to make up my third poetry collection. Since e-books arrived, it has become even more difficult to find readers for poetry and yet everyone can recite a line of poetry that’s touched them, long after they’ve forgotten the stories they’ve read. Perhaps even more than previous books, this one is written from the heart in a way I didn’t expect. If you read it, I think you’ll know which parts I mean.”
‘I love short stories. One of my favourite writers is Saki, whose short stories are the thing he’s known for, although he’s also written novels. And often the books I like best, by writers whom I love, are their short stories, like Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Mr Quin. So it should come as no surprise that I’ve had nearly seventy short stories published by now. Over half of those are about the lovable old rogue from Donegal, Seamus O’Hare.
I wrote my first Old Seamus story, A Tale of a Teacup, years ago, and to my delight it was accepted and published by Ireland’s Own – and I was paid for it. At last I was a published writer! The For this reason if for no other I would have a soft spot for these stories. But quite apart from that, I enjoy writing them. Old Seamus is a poacher with a heart of gold who spends a lot of his time happily sorting out problems which crop up in the lives of his friends.
They are set in the fictional village of Ardnakil in Donegal, and usually happen at some time in Seamus’s past. I enjoy the beautiful setting and the nostalgia of looking back to a former age, but an age which I myself remember. (Unless it’s Seamus’s early childhood, and in that case, I’ve heard all about it from my parents!)
A year or so ago my publisher collected the first 12 of these stories and released them in eBook and paperback under the title The Seanachie: Tales of Old Seamus
(A Seanachie is simply the Irish for a traditional storyteller.)
Now it’s time for the second collection of twelve stories, The Seanachie 2: Norah on the Beach, and this will be out in September. In fact you can pre-order it right now. I hope people will enjoy it at least as much as the first book.
Moving on to single short stories/novellas
“I originally wrote my short story ‘The Mystery of the Skelton Diamonds’ as a promotional piece for my ex publisher. It features the two main characters in my historical mystery: ‘The Heiress of Linn Hagh.’ She did nothing with the story apart from using it as a freebie give-away on her website, which I always suspected was a waste of time.
I regained the publishing rights to all my books earlier this year and promptly self-published them. Since April, my regency whodunnit, ‘Heiress’ has sold really well but all the positive reviews on Amazon said the same thing: the readers wanted more stories about Detective Stephen Lavender and his sidekick, Constable Ned Woods, ASAP. Knowing that the second novel in the series wasn’t coming out until Christmas, I took some time out from writing to organise a book cover and editing for ‘The Mystery of the Skelton Diamonds’ and published it as an eBook six weeks ago, priced at 99 cents. The first chapter of ‘Heiress’ is in the back.
I didn’t really expect to make any money from it at that price. It was published to keep my current readers happy and hopefully, to introduce more potential readers to my novel. But 'The Mystery of the Skelton Diamonds' is now selling between 20-50 units a night and has earned me $500 since I published it. (Over 1050 copies sold.) Reviewers are starting to comment that they've read both the novel and the short story. I’m not sure which one they are reading first, but I suspect that ‘Skelton Diamonds’ is now working as a promotional piece and is introducing more and more people to my dynamic crime fighting duo.”
“Dark Night, Black Horse is a long short story based on a true story I was told by a friend who breeds Pura Raza Español horses in Coín in rural Andalucía, Spain. In the first year of the Spanish Civil War, Nationalist troops came to requisition his grandfather Diego’s favourite black stallion. Diego’s son, aged about eight at the time, then goes down to the town square where all the requisitioned horses, mules and donkeys have been gathered and ‘steals’ the horse back and hides it. There is more to the story than this but I can’t say more without giving the game away.
Diego Martín was a contrabandista: in those days, duty was paid on basic goods such as flour, oil and chickpeas when they were brought into a pueblo, but Diego had a way of circumventing these taxes. He also ran a side-line in American tobacco. His son (aged 8) was actually put in prison for selling it.
After piecing together the various elements of the black horse incident and Diego’s background, I created the story Dark Night, Black Horse. Anyone who knows anything about horses in Spain will understand the importance to the family of the horse, Lucero (bright star); black stallions are still ridden – shown off – in fiestas and romerias, when men of all ages put on their finery for one special day and parade around the streets of their town. Anyone who has ventured off the tourist trail into real Spain will perhaps understand the social background of the story. In the 1930s Andalucía was a backward-looking province reliant on agriculture and steeped in poverty. Getting by, for most families was a major challenge: the black stallion was Diego’s pride and joy, and only possible luxury.”
And what about anthologies, collections by numerous authors?
Rod Glenn is the man behind Wild Wolf Publishing, who specialize in dark fiction and horror. He’s here to tell us about an anthology put together by Wild Wolf authors.
‘Wild Wolf Publishing was set up to champion new and emerging writers of predominantly dark fiction as we felt that this was an area that was being neglected by the market. Wild Wolf's Twisted Tails was put together to showcase some of our authors in one volume. The idea was to give readers a 'taster' of each author so that it would wet their appetites to read more of their work.’
“I was invited to join a writing group about a year ago and they decided to compile an anthology. It was a no-brainer to want to be part of this chorus of voices, all sharing a glimpse of their favorite genres. Mine was short suspense story written specifically for this anthology, only I had no idea it would morph later into a full-length novel. I've certainly enjoyed the experience since Fusion was nominated for the 2014 eFestival of Words for Best of Independent Book Awards.
Police interviews have always fascinated me. It's one of the most difficult jobs in the department. Watching detectives/sheriffs dissecting criminal activity through menacing interviews, inspired crucial events in my book. I enjoy being immersed in the study of people but most of all, the satisfaction of that 'gotcha' moment as the police unwind the clues one by one. With the release at the end of 2014 of the full version of this book titled The 9th Hour, here is a short description.”
“Until a man loses his daughter to a serial killer, until he loses his best friend, until he is down on his luck, Darryl Williams must put all thoughts of retaliation out of his mind.”
‘I like writing flash fiction and short stories, I like the challenge of finding a beginning, a middle and an end within the confines of a tight word count. It’s fun.
I’ve written loads over the years and for a while I entered a lot of competitions without success, but in the end I got very disillusioned by the amount of money some of these were asking for entry and a bit suspicious about who won. One in particular seemed to favour a very small group of people who always won.
However, in 2007 I entered SFX Pulp Idol competition. It was free and Gollanz were judging it. I didn’t win, but I was one of the top ten authors chosen to have their full story published in an anthology given away with magazine.
You can read mine on my web site “Maud: A Garden Story”
The real excitement came a month after when I was contracted by a publisher called Big Finish. They published Dr Who stories under license from the BBC. Would I like to pitch a story for one of their anthologies? Hell YES!
It was hard work; there were rules about which Doctor you could use, on respecting the ethos of Dr Who and a very strict word count. It also had to be a Christmas story and, in my case, set in New Zealand. I’ve never been to New Zealand, but travel guides can be your best friend when you are lost.
After a few rewrites and some advice from the editor they commissioned me to write “Autaia Pipipi Pia”, which is Maori if you squint hard and have a big enough pinch of salt.
It was published in 2008 under the title “Short Trips: Christmas Around the World”.
It is out of print now and a silly price on Amazon.
Since then I have gone on to write novels and am currently published by Thorstruck Press, but I still write shorties for my blog and you can read them on my web site.’