My current work in progress is a selection of short stories to be called simply Cherries. I am busy curating these tales (as the current fashionable jargon has it – though ‘curate’ is the mot juste here) whilst my second novel, Humphrey & Jack, is with my editor. Which will appear first is anybody’s guess and I shall probably seek marketing advice.

Much has been said and written about the difference between writing a novel and writing a short story and it is true that a different skill set is required for each. However, I think the differences may have been overstated. Every word counts in both. The short story should have an unexpected twist. But then the end of each chapter in a novel should also contain a spark of surprise. The principal difference is that when you are writing a novel you have to hold a phenomenal amount in your head, even if you are good at organising your notes – which I am not. So that’s why I find writing short stories a bit of a holiday compared with the macro-adventure of novel-writing. Mind you, in the long view, I see these enjoyable exercises as a temporary diversion from Novel 3, the seeds of which are already germinating.

I have had great fun over the last two days writing a pastiche in the style of Jane Austen which I shall finish tomorrow. Two other stories are finished and the other three are conceptually well-advanced. Enough, I think, for me to attempt some notes for the the blurb for the collection. Here we are:

The six stories in ‘Cherries’ are not linked although the eponymous fruit appears in each of them as a kind of signature.

  • The Pier is a tale of late-flowering love in a run-down seaside resort.
  • Cardigan is a coming-of-age story where a sister’s jealous interference sharpens the pangs of first love.
  • In The Candidate, the most obvious man for the job finds himself rejected categorically and without explanation. What dark secret from the past links him with the interviewer ?
  • Moving shadows on Tanya’s bedroom curtains are among the terrors facing her in Cold Sweat. Is she being persecuted by her ex-lover or is she the victim of her own delusions?
  • Mansfield Retail Park is a gay romance written in the style of Jane Austen, beginning in a Penzance supermarket and ending at high tide on the rocks of St Michael’s Mount.
  • In Cherries, the title story, a retired schoolmistress is taking her annual holiday in Avignon. Her encounter with a street beggar who looks like Che Guevara has unexpected consequences.

Novel Number 3? You want a clue? I am researching the transactions of the Coroners’ courts for Lancaster and for Lincoln and Kesteven at the end of the Nineteenth Century. That’s all you’re getting.

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