Space to dream

Summer is upon us and it’s been a very long while since this blog was last updated. Lives raced on, full of the usual highs and lows. But now we’ve got longer days, with or without the sun, and there is time to pause.

This blog came about because nine writers got together. Each of those writers understands the importance of feeding the imagination. So sit down, pull up a good book. Spend some time with a story of your choice. Here are some of our favourite recommendations at the moment.

Haunting tales:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jul/30/fell-jenn-ashworth-review-novel

Psychological thrillers:
https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008203566/the-woman-next-door

https://www.accentpress.co.uk/falling-suns

Short stories:
http://rosythornton.com/works/sandlands/

As well as, of course, our very own tales from elsewhere, in paperback, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Elsewhere-Sarah-Thomas/dp/1522725628, or on Kindle, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Elsewhere-Irene-Cunningham-ebook/dp/B01AK8D2CE/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470477191&sr=1-2&keywords=tales+from+elsewhere.

Or, for something much lighter:

Books

Lose yourself…

A telephone ringing before eight in the morning can only mean bad news, can’t it? This particular call comes at five thirty-five on a Friday morning. In my case I’d been expecting it. For years. The voice at the other end of the line is fractured and I feel sorry that they have to ring me. Can’t be easy for them.

We’ve found a body, they say. A male body. I listen as the police officer goes through his training procedure, says all the right things, makes all the right noises. While he tells me the location I swap my suede house slippers for a pair of comfortable shoes and get my waterproof jacket ready by the door.

 

This is the opening to Jacqueline Ward’s short story, Undercurrent. Jacqueline is a seasoned story teller, with short stories in several anthologies.

Go on a journey

 

‘You’re going where?’

Lucien’s voice is calmer when we talk by phone these days – obviously moving back to France has mellowed him. But when I tell him I’m going back to Ceann na Creige, it hits a decibel level I haven’t heard since the early days of our divorce.

‘Crazy. All that way, and for… for nothing, yes?’

I don’t have time for this, not now. I put him on speaker as I race round the room, throwing clothes into a holdall. ‘No, not for nothing! And it’s Scotland, Lucien, not the bloody North Pole.’

A funeral in the Highlands, late September… sun or rain, I wonder? Or wind? All three, probably. I yank open another cupboard and add a couple of sweaters to the mix.

 

This is the start to Coming Home by Margaret Morton Kirk. This was her second story for the anthology. She withdrew her first, Still Life, to enter it into 2015 Bloody Scotland short story competition, which turned out to be a good decision as she was a runner up!

 

Something to read

What happens when you ask several different writers to write a story based around the theme of ‘elsewhere’? You get a range of different stories based around everything from funerals to tarot cards and travelling. Although, of course, that’s not what the stories are actually about…

tales from elsewhere is now on Kindle.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01AK8D2CE?keywords=tales%20from%20elsewhere&qid=1452788794&ref_=sr_1_2&s=books&sr=1-2

Or, if you like the feel of paper in your hands, you can also order a hard copy.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1522725628?keywords=Tales%20from%20elsewhere&qid=1452759948&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

New people to meet

I feel as if I’ve left the house wearing odd shoes, lost something very important – sitting in the same crematorium twice in ten days riddles a healthy mind with what-ifs. My sister-in-law was young; no one could speak. Single words were forced out like gasps… no space had been given to hymns; the speaker-for-the-dead held us lightly. A week later, there was some singing for my friend and my mind slipped away to a future, ancient me who had outlasted everyone, and strange old folk on a day out at the local furnace whispered along the pews, ‘Who was she?’

This is the opening to Allotments, written by Irene Cunningham, one of two Scottish writers who contributed to the anthology. Irene is also the photographer responsible for the cover art.

A time to start new things…

If you are thinking about reading or writing more in 2016, we have created this blog as a place for inspiration.

Want to start writing? There is a lot of advice about writing on the Internet and so the only piece of advice that we have is that you have to write. Pick up your pen, tap that keyboard and create. Pretty much anyone can write. Of course, only a few can write well. Every writer will need advice at some time about the techniques of storytelling, how to build the structure, how to fill in the details. We thoroughly recommend Emma Darwin’s blog, This Itch of Writing, which is probably all you would ever need to know and a lot more besides: http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/

Just want to read more? We love reading. It makes us happy. And sad and everything in between. And, of course, if you want to be a writer, then the best thing you can do is to read. If you’ve got some Christmas money burning a hole or just had an e-reader for Christmas, what better way to start the New Year than loading it up with lots of lovely new books?  We have set up a page of recommendations for stories that we liked. Alternatively, why not try our new anthology, Tales from elsewhere?