Last year I helped Fluster Magazine organise a short story competition. Twenty winning stories were chosen to be published in an anthology by Armida Publications. For about two months, I watched whilst stories upon stories sped into my inbox, and spent countless sunny afternoons reading through them all. Judging the entries was a lot harder than I had anticipated. To me, there were a few very clear winners, but there were many stories that I simply could not choose between!
Helping with the Tell Us A Tale competition was such a privilege and seeing the finished anthology made me swell with pride. All of the hard work and almost impossible choices were worth it in the end!
After receiving my proper, physical copy of Tell Me A Tale, I decided to wait a few months before delving into the pages. I wanted to read the stories with a fresh mind. Knowing that I would not have to judge the stories also made reading them nicely relaxing.
Obviously I’m going to be a little biased, seeing as I helped to choose most of the final stories, but I would still like to share a few thoughts about the collection…
Tell Me A Tale brings together stories from all over the world, with authors of different ages and nationalities. The collection has a remarkable range of styles and themes. We have tramps quoting Keats, conversations with the dead and moving memories from the past. We enter strange worlds, wild imaginations and the obscure Art world. We learn about the poignant loss of memory and loved ones, of growing old and of moving on.
From the first story, the reader is taught to expect the unexpected. Short, but sweet, The Rain by Hannah-Jamie Duncombe is the perfect opener with a clever twist.
Some of the stories are likely to put a tear in your eye. Guerillas Marching Down by Mateo Jarrín Cuvi is well paced and superbly written. It’s written from the point of view of a musician looking back at his childhood. His parents had an ever hovering fear that the guerrillas would march down into the city, but on reflection, there was something else much scarier that was taking over his childhood. Visits to Miami, which at first seem like a small holiday where he had a ritual of eating at Taco Bell and playing on the beach, turned into something a lot more upsetting and put him on his path to become a musician.
Another heart wrenching tale comes from Michelle Tudor. In Distance, an elderly man makes a train journey to visit an old friend. He is overcome with emotion when he sees her again for the first time in decades, and as he reminisces, the reader can feel the pain and confusion of his many regrets. This theme of growing old is explored again in Amongst the Rushes by Hanne Larsson. Both stories succeed in making the reader feel uncomfortable with the inevitability of fading away as we grow old.
Amongst these thought provoking stories, we also have tales of hope. In Payback by Richard O’Callaghan we witness a conversation between a kindly old lady and a burglar who has just broken into her house. It’s a hopeful story that shows everyone has the ability to change the course of their lives. Similarly, Stone Divide by Andrea Weiner shows the turning point in an unhappy model’s life, as she determines to find a better way of living.
Tell Me A Tale finishes with the beautiful and aptly named The End by Eve Murray. This final story follows a young author as she tries to write the closing, most painful chapter of her novel, and come to terms with the loss of her brother years ago. Every good book should have an ending like this, one that lingers for a while after you’ve turned the final page.
I’m so pleased with how this book has turned out (it also looks brilliant, with a great cover and a photograph inside for each story) and I’m so happy to have been a part of such a wonderful competition! I’m also over the moon about my name appearing in the first few pages. You can imagine how excited I was when I first saw that!
If you would like to buy a copy of Tell Me A Tale, click on the picture below!