After whetting your appetite with my freebie over the weekend, today I’ve invited author James Smith onto the blog to talk about his new short story collection – The Shoe Box (cool name). I worked with James and a host of other talented authors on a collection called A Festive Feast in 2012. This was to raise money for Cancer Research, and included an exclusive short story by yours truly: Extravagant Promises. I asked James about the market for short fiction, and invited him to tell us a bit more about his own collection. Over to you, James …
“Hi Joanne and I can’t thank you enough for hosting me – it’s scary (and exciting) releasing your first book, so it is fantastic to know that there is such amazing support out there.
I think there has been a real upturn in the interest for shorter works (flash fiction, short stories and novellas). A quick search for ‘short stories’ on Amazon returns almost 111,000 thousand ebooks. The titles indicate a massive range of genres being catered for – in my experience short stories were restricted to women’s magazines and comics – now we have romance, crime, thrillers, horror, erotica and action/adventure short stories all being produced. So there really is something for everybody out there. I also think that the biggest indicator that shorter works are becoming popular again is the fact that international best-selling authors are writing them to support/enhance their novels.
Personally, I have always been a fan of short stories. They allow you to experience something new in a relatively short space of time. With our ‘modern’ busy lives, being able to read a complete story whilst travelling to work or grabbing that much needed cup of tea I believe really enriches our lives. Another huge bonus – thanks to self publishing on electronic devices (which is incredibly simple. Just upload your manuscript and tick a few boxes. OK there is a little bit more to it than that, but I could not believe how easy it was) these books are relatively inexpensive, so as a reader you CAN take a chance on that new author or genre.
As a writer, I really enjoy producing short stories for a number of reasons. Most importantly, for me anyway, is the sense of completion. You can easily go from initial concept to a fully edited piece in a week – writing a novel (which I am also attempting to do) takes a lot longer. Secondly, you can experiment with different genres and writing styles, which is a great deal of fun and even if the end product is complete nonsense (and I have produced some utter nonsense) you have only invested a relatively short amount of time into it – so sending it to the recycle bin is not as sickening as it could be.
So, after just over 18 months of writing (I’m a full time secondary school science teacher and father of three boys, so time is a limited commodity), I am proud to be able to share with you my first collection of contemporary short stories – The Shoe Box.
The title is a bit of a self indulgence – my first short story to be accepted by an editor onto their website (but never sold, so no-one has read it until now) is the first story in this collection – New Shoes. I thought that it would be an idea to pay homage to this story by giving all the other stories a foot/shoe related title and then boxing them all together. The five stories examine the human ability to deal with adversity, maintain that special spark and our obsession with competition and celebrity.
Someone once described short story collections as ‘a box of chocolates’ (could that have been you, Jo?) and I believe this collection neatly fits that description. There is variety in the stories and I hope that everyone finds something in there that they like (let me know on Twitter @James_Sm1th when you do!)
James Smith has been making up stories for as long as he can remember, but only recently decided to write them down. He was born and bred in Derbyshire, before moving to Newcastle Upon Tyne to complete a degree in Genetics. He still lives and works in the North East, having refused to move away from the area. He is currently a Secondary School Science Teacher and spends his days attempting to enlighten 11-18 year olds about the wonders of science. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it…he would write a series about his experiences, but is afraid no one would believe him.
Connect with James on Twitter @James_Sm1th