What I’m Working On: Short Stories

What I’m Working On: Short Stories

I was lucky enough to spend a week at Tŷ Newydd recently, as part of 2019’s Literature Wales Mentoring Scheme. During my time there, speaking with mentor Katherine Stansfield, (who taught at Aberystwyth University during my time as a student) as well as the other mentees, helped me to realise that the stories I had written for inclusion in the collection, now tentatively titled The Rule of Trees, (we’ll see!) all centre on relationships, and the concept of a third entity within these relationships, shifting the focus and theme of the collection from witchcraft and otherness (as originally intended,) and opening my eyes to new possibilities and stories.

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Kath Stansfield, Emily Vanderploeg, Jennifer Evans, Nasia Sarwar-Skuse and myself at Tŷ Newydd

The collection explores relationships through a lens of magical realism, is experimental in form and impregnated with a strong sense of the natural world and the land, (particularly the Welsh landscape.) Wales is a country whose rolling hills and seaside towns readily lend themselves to psychological fictions of unease and has often found its way into my writing, even when not a prominent feature.

The collection will also explore liminal spaces, boundaries and borderlands, will delve into the realms of the supernatural and the psyche’s influence on the physical manifestation of hauntings, and include stories told from various perspectives in various formats, (for example letters, postcards, interviews and so on.)

Short stories are “bright flashes, suddenly illuminating everything, while also throwing everything into shadow,” (Daisy Johnson in The Guardian, 2019).

Where am I at at the moment?

One story explores the life of a single mother who carves a man from a tree to act as a father to her young daughter, but ultimately realises she can’t maintain control over him; another looks at what happens when a woman moves in to a new apartment and finds a silhouette painted on her bedroom wall – a silhouette that peels away from the wall each night… There’s a very short piece about the murder of Bridget Boland, an Irish woman killed by her husband who claimed he believed she was possessed by fairies, and I’m currently in the middle of writing a piece about a half-boy, half-crocodile called Sorrow. One of my favourite stories is a piece about a woman who falls in love with the moon…

The concentrated form of short fiction invokes a platform on which to eloquently capture fleeting moments in a person’s life, or depict fierce emotions. It’s been about 6 months since my debut poetry collection, Salacia, was launched with Parthian, and I have to admit I’ve not written a huge amount of poetry since – almost as though my creative supplies have dwindled! But I am really enjoying this change of route, engaging with short stories, getting to know my characters and being playful with these strange pieces of writing.

What I’m reading:

Writers whose work I am currently enjoying (or have enjoyed) and drawing inspiration from include Daisy Johnson, Carly Homes, Sarah Hall, Helen McClory, Abigail Ulman, Lane Ashfeldt, Irenosen Okojie, Ali Smith, Miranda July and Tania Herschman.

I would encourage anyone to enrol on one of the writing courses at Tŷ Newydd, sign up for a retreat, or apply to the Literature Wales Mentoring Scheme (they open applications every year in the Autumn.) I had a wonderful time there, learned so much, made invaluable connections, and ate about 35,249 of Tony’s home-baked biscuits.

Keep up to date with this collection, and let me know what you’re working on, through Twitter:

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