Saturday 22 February 2014

My collection of stories is ready!

I await peer feedback on my last two short stories. 'Coming of Age' is the least satirical of my pieces. It contrasts the life of Eliza Augusta with Kathryn, her great-niece. Eliza Augusta is a master butcher and enjoys having the 'married women's vote' aged thirty in 1918, about a month after the end of WWI. Much later in the story we meet  Kathryn, who is entitled to vote at the age of eighteen in 1979, just as Margaret Thatcher is about to lead the country. The two women have very different educational opportunities. Both are successful but only one knows how to cook a shoulder of lamb!

My final story 'Some have Entertained Angels' is based on the biblical verse '.. be kind to strangers for some have entertained strangers unawares.' It considers the reaction of a comfortably well off educational psychologist, Rachel, towards her friend and one-time neighbour, Angie. Angie falls on very hard times, takes antidepressants and suffers a fatal accident because she can no longer afford electricity in her tiny bedside - a far cry from the three bedroom house she rented next door to Rachel's comfortable Victorian villa. Rachel is full of remorse that she failed to help Angie when she needed it most. But her concern is, of course, too late.

Saturday 15 February 2014

Short stories - getting all my ducks in a row!

My three short pieces, which received distinctions or good reviews from readers,
All the Responsibility-None of the Power, The Inspection and Single File  seem strong stories to form the equivalent of the first three chapters of Austerity and Other Cuts.

They all link with each other through the theme of education.

Medical Mayhem is a group of short stories which satirise government diktats on the NHS and they make up another six stories.

My novella is The Climate King. Sylvester is a profiteer who becomes a millionaire during a frightening heat wave. He rubs salt in the wound when the floods come and he is still 'on the make' selling expensive sand bags to vulnerable people suffering the effects of torrential rain. It is no comfort to me that this story was written last spring - long before the heatwave and certainly well in advance of the recent floods which have upset so many lives. Fay Weldon said I must be psychic or be with the zeigeist. My plan is that The Climate King will form the middle third of my collection.

A longer story, Coming of Age, which spans the years 1918 - 1978 begins the last third of the collection. It is less satirical but is a comment on how women's lives have changed, such that some don't realise how important it is to vote, despite the married women's vote having been so hard fought for, and won, in 1918.

Finally two very short pieces Gardening Leave and Some have Entertained Angels end the collection with another more sombre piece, about real poverty in Sierra Leone, which is simply called Austerity.