I’ve been writing short stories since I was knee-high to the proverbial grasshopper. My mother recently found a tiny book, about three inches by two, that I’d created and written in when I was probably no more than nine years old. The stories are incredibly short, of course! But I can see the seeds of my writing career right there.
I’ve always enjoyed writing. Inspired by the gift of a magical children’s novel, The Land of Green Ginger (thank you, Mrs Birningham!), when I was in my final year at infants’ school, and by all the reading my mother had done with me before I could read or write, it’s been a favourite activity of mine since I was very young. So when people say short stories are difficult to write, I wrinkle my brow and ask, ‘really?’ I’ve been writing them for so long, I don’t see it that way.
My very first published piece, apart from a few letters in magazines, was a short story. It was written initially for an anniversary competition relating to Robert Louis Stevenson, many of whose works I had read and enjoyed, so I tried to write in something approaching his style. Imagine my surprise, then, when the editors of the anthology in which Full Circle (now available as part of the Horripilations Volume 2 short story book on Amazon) was published likened its style to that of Jane Austen! (I never knew she wrote ghost stories – did she?)
It’s a curious fact that, while reading ghost stories makes me very nervous (I once had to sleep with the light on after reading too many M R James short stories while my now ex-husband was away on business!), I seem to have written quite a number of them myself. For some reason, thinking them up doesn’t (thankfully) give me nightmares. Many of these stories are now available on Amazon, as part of the Bite-Sized Books series, in the short collections of stories entitled Horripilations Volumes 1 and 2. Some of these stories have inspired ‘continuations’ as part of my new series in the Bite-Sized Books collection, which begins with Liberty Gibbens, Ghost Whisperer – Volume 1 and continues with Liberty Gibbens, Ghost Whisperer – Volume 2.
Some of my stories, even now, are very short. There’s a genre for them all of its own. It’s called the Mini-Saga, and the rules are simple – write a story in EXACTLY 100 words! That doesn’t include the title, which can be up to 12 words long, but still … it’s a pretty exacting brief. One of the daily papers used to run a competition for mini-sagas, and I wrote a number of them one year, though I don’t think I got around to entering in the end. I did, however, get one of them published on 50 Word Stories. I’ve also had a story published on 101 Words.
And some are just straight-out romantic. In fact, The Spirit of the Loch (one of the stories in Horripilations Volume 1, available on Amazon) manages to combine a romance with a ghost story – and was shortlisted for the Annual Ghost Story competition run by Writers’ News many moons ago. But I have several other short stories that should warm the cockles of your heart, as the saying goes, and they are available in a collection I’ve called ‘Stories to Warm Your Heart‘. The Once and Future Marriage leaves the reader to create their own ending, but most would make it a happy one, I think.
The other major category into which my stories fit is fantasy/sci-fi. Some are a mixture of both, like What Presence, but The Wrong Shoes is a modern fairy-tale which was also shortlisted for a writing competition, way back in the mists of time.
Some of my stories don’t readily fall into any category, or are at least one-offs in a category by themselves in my Writing Folder. Many of these were written as exercise pieces for The Write Idea, the writers’ group to which I belonged for many years. The brief may have been to write about a particular subject, or complete a story from a given first line, or even just a name or a title. I recently found some of these pieces, and it’s possible one or two may make it, in edited form, into a future volume. In the meantime, however, I’ll continue to work on my Liberty Gibbens series.