Since becoming an indie author I have found myself deluged by books and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. You see I can’t refuse any book that I come across, whether it’s free, on offer or made attractive enough to me by its author – and as you’re all weavers of wonderful words, that’s not difficult! So I find myself with mountains of books, figuratively speaking, obviously, as they’re on my Kindle but you get the picture!
There’s no problem with having all these books but finding the time to read and review them is becoming an issue. On many occasions I’ve tweeted that I’ve just bought them and the author makes contact to thank me and hope that I enjoy their work and I assure them I will review. Months pass and I can only read one at a time. However I have found a solution at least to some of this…I don’t want to call it a problem, since when could too many books be considered a problem but I think you know what I mean…and the solution is this – the short story.
I have always enjoyed short stories and have now found them to be an added joy. They are easy to read and digest, quick to review and, bringing me to the point of this post, a great introduction to an authors work. They act as an appetiser if you like, tempting you to tackle the meatier course of someone’s novel where you need to commit serious time.
I have enjoyed what I shall now call my ‘short story experience’ twice recently. The first book I came across was Nine Lives by Terry Tyler. I was fortunate enough to be treated to a day out by my daughter at a health spa and found this book of, unsurprisingly, nine short stories ideal for such a day.
Bite sized stories read in the few minutes you have between ‘relaxing’ treatments – I say relaxing as whilst some of them were there was one rather horrifying experience involving being scoured vigorously with what felt like a wire brush before being so liberally applied with aromatherapy oil that when I went to move I slid off the bed like a slippery eel…
That indignity aside I finished this delightful series of stories in a day and I’d recommend them to anyone with a short attention span or little time. Waiting rooms are ideal and travelling to go on holiday perfect.
On a more serious note short stories have a special place for me I remember the words of a friend, one who is sadly no longer with us, who spent a lot of time in hospital and although he took books with him to fill the time he told me he couldn’t read them, couldn’t get into them because his concentration was constantly broken by the necessary interruptions of hospital life – he would have loved short stories such as these.
My second interesting taster was Don’t Turn on the Light by Max China. Now, I had already bought China’s novel, The Sister, and although it looks very much like my sort of book, I still haven’t got to it. One day I saw a tweet from China about a short story he’d written and on the spur of the moment I bought it – read (loved!) and reviewed it over lunch and felt at least I’d done something to support someone else in their writing but more importantly I really, really enjoyed the story, it connected me to China’s writing and it has definitely moved The Sister up my list.
There is also a great deal of variety in the way these offerings of short story are put together and as examples I currently have the following awaiting my attention:-
A Long Way from Home by Jan Ruth – now these are slightly longer, advertised as long short stories, but three tales in one book – marvellous (and what a beautiful cover).
Scared edited by Rayne Hall, which contains ten horror stories by ten different authors, ten introductions right there – how brilliant is that? As an added bonus I’ll be reading a genre I wouldn’t usually choose.
Lastly I have just picked up Emily by Chantal Bellehumeur which is a family orientated series of 12 stories featuring the same characters but revolving around Emily and this sounds like an interesting take on a short story format, I am looking forward to it.
There was an excellent post on Facebook recently by The Literary Consultancy sharing an article in The Telegraph called The Irresistible Rise of the Short Story which highlights their growing popularity and prominence in literature.
Perhaps this the way forward, authors putting out a variety of short stories to attract new readers which all sounds good to me however I’ve only ever written one short story. It’s just been rejected which is fine because even as I wrote it I could already see its potential as the basis for a novel. Clearly for me this tempting by short story approach is going to be a work in progress…