Some of you might remember that not long after I wrote the original short story While No One Was Watching, the idea of something happening at the same time as a world stopping event became the focus of the 2011 Bridge House Short Story competition.
We were looking for stories that used the real event (and it did have to be something that stopped the world literally) as more than a back-drop — it had to be in some way integral to the plot of the story — while at the same time telling a whole other story.
I have always been fascinated by this idea of news eclipsing what’s going on in our own lives and with the royal birth dominating the headlines I was watching a couple on Daybreak this morning whose baby was born one minute before the new king and I started to think again about this idea.
When we put out the call for submissions for the World Stopping Events competition we had a huge amount of interest and I received emails from a number of writing groups and universities as a lot of people liked this idea. Well, more than that it seemed to inspire many writers. Often when we had calls for themed collections, the themes were quite general — horror, ghost, children’s etc — but the fact that the submissions were a while before they started to come in, suggests this was different and people wrote new stories.
We had some wonderful subs and it was really exciting looking at how people used the idea and we had stories about Kennedy, Elvis, 911, Diana, Lennon’s death, the Boxing Day Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina … etc.
I actually still use this device in a lot of my writing. It’s another way of showing and not telling because I like to use news headlines and events as a way of keeping time, rather than say it outright. What this also does is add an element of authenticity and one that readers will connect to because often they will remember where they were at the time.
I loved the stories and it was a tough call making the selection and choosing an overall winner.
The stories were published in a collection called On This Day and while like many of the Bridge House collections they never sell in great numbers I am very proud of this collection that I edited alongside Gill James.
It was also inspired me to make a book trailer, something I had only done once before. I ought to make one for the novel — that should be fun.
So I thought, given the historic days we’re living in, I would talk about this book.
That’s the thing about books — they can be written in one century, one moment in time and read in another and they still capture something of the time they were written in and the time they write about.
So in case you never saw it here is that book trailer with music composed by another talented friend I went to school with!
And also here’s a link to the book and if you don’t have a copy please do get one.
And you never know — it might also inspire you.
Quick update, my proofread MS has gone back to the publisher and I have spent the past couple of days having a writing week. I am still working on the rework of the novel but am also writing a new short story. I also received a publishing contract yesterday for my short story Lest We Forget, that will appear in a new Wildlife Anthology for the Plight of the Rhino (Save the Rhino) that will be published by Springbok Publications at the end of this year. More on that soon. I have also been asked to edit some of the stories and am really excited about the project!
So … put the sound up, put it on big screen and watch this …
Enjoy whatever you’re doing — on this day.