I’m doing a wee book giveaway over on my Twitter feed @vikkigemmell which closes at 5pm on Thursday.
One winner, (UK only, due to postage costs), will receive a signed copy of my contemporary short story collection, ‘Exposure’ and the goodies in the image above.
What could be a better way to pass your summer holidays? Reading, eating a bar of chocolate and sipping on a hot chocolate while the rain lashes down outside…
An extract of the blurb on the back of the book reads: ‘These stories will take you on an emotional journey, exposing the light and the dark aspects of love, loss, freedom and hope’
Extracts from some reviews describe the stories as, ‘Evocative…Poignant…Thought-provoking…Some very dark indeed, but all intriguing… Beautifully written, Wonderful use of words…’
It’s always a bit more challenging trying to sum up a collection of a variety of stories with different themes and different characters, so I thought I’d give you a little insight into a selection of them, with taster first lines, (and sometimes other lines), with my ‘story behind the story’.
‘As the plane sped along the runway Sophie felt a piece of herself fall back into place…’
I have a soft spot for this one as some of the scenes in the story are inspired by my observations during a couple of solo trips I took to Paris in my early 30s, which I have very fond memories of.
This story is about a young woman who calls off her wedding but decides to still go on her honeymoon alone to Paris, walking the streets in her wedding dress.
The bleeding heart panting mentioned in the story was hanging in the stairwell in my hotel, (the image of which is above), and I saw an old couple embrace passionately in Jardin du Luxembourg which relates to the line, ‘…As they pulled apart and walked on, hand in hand, Sophie didn’t feel sadness at what she had lost. She felt hope that something true, something that could stand the test of time, was still waiting to be found.’
And yes, I did also see a woman walking the streets in a wedding dress. I’m sure unlike my story she actually did get married, but for one fleeting moment I did wonder if she was alone, and if the smile on her face was not the obvious happiness you would expect which sparked off the whole idea for this one.
‘I can feel it. The heat rising from the audience beyond the curtains. The artificial smoke curling up, crawling across the stage, circling my ankles, pulling at me to hurry up.’
This was my first ever published piece of work, back in 2011. It appeared in the online Spilling Ink Review journal (which sadly doesn’t exist anymore). Thank you Amy Burns (the former editor) for starting me off on my journey to publication and for making me feel like I wasn’t writing into a dark abyss. This is one of my favourite flash fiction pieces that I’ve ever written.
The idea for the story sparked off from a burlesque performance I saw at the Cat House nightclub in Glasgow (probably around 2005!). I remember coming home a little bit tipsy and scribbling down some lines that didn’t fully form in to any kind of story until much later.
What struck me, and what I hope comes across in this piece, is that the girl on stage was totally in control and I wanted to switch the perspective away from her ‘being the show’, to the audience actually being the ones on display. ‘I am not naked. You are naked. I am not the show. This is the show.’
‘She kept the window open and could hear the shouts below announcing the beginning of Saturday night…’
This explores the vulnerability of illness, the fragility of the body, the sense of losing youth and beauty and wanting to suspend it in time, as well as the connection you can experience during a seemingly fleeting encounter with a stranger.
The idea all started with a line that I thought might originally form a poem ‘Last Dance’, where I played around with similar themes, but it needed more exploration than a few lines in a poem so it became a story instead. ‘Her body was her weakness but also her strength. She needed to remember this.’
This story won runner up in a big competition and I was invited down to Foyles book shop in London for the launch of the anthology it originally featured in. This short story marks the beginning of a journey where I started to believe I could truly be a ‘proper writer’ one day.
‘Every Sunday when the clock chimes one, Tommy’s on the high street, pushing the empty wheelchair at high speed, chasing the pigeons..’
Often walking around my home town I would see an old man pushing an empty wheelchair. It fascinated me, and I built a story around this image, imagining that he still believed his late wife sat in it. The last line, ‘The discarded peel lies at her feet, curling into a heart shape, not yet part of the earth.’, was an observation I’d noted down from an image I’d seen months before of a tangerine skin curled into a heart shape lying on the ground.
‘Winter brings beauty back to her world. Frost masks dust, and with the snow comes a stillness; it flows through her body like a sigh…’
I think I originally wrote this for a competition with the theme of ‘Dark Fairytales’. A girl is locked in a house in a forest, pimped out by the ruthless ‘Queen’. The story goes to dark places, with redemption in the end. A lot of the time I start writing and I’ll try and not overthink scenes, waiting to see where the story takes me. With this, it started with a setting and a ‘mood’ and I let my subconscious flow.
If you don’t fancy entering the giveaway then ‘Exposure’ is available to buy on Amazon here in both ebook and paperback format
NEXT MONTH I’m going to be doing a giveaway of Follow Me as the countdown begins for my second YA novel, Promise Me, due for release in September