THE STORYTELLER SPEAKS: Powerful Stories to Win Your Heart by Annika Perry
Genres: Short stories
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The Storyteller Speaks by Annika Perry is a captivating book of short stories on diverse topics, stimulating a range of emotions.
Powerful stories, succinctly written
Its sub-title is no overstatement. “Powerful Stories to Win Your Heart” is entirely apposite. I found the majority of the short stories fascinating and moving.
Annika writes succinctly, engaging the reader from the outset. This is of course an essential quality of a short story writer (although not all short story writers possess it). She’s quick to paint a scene and I immediately felt I was “right there” with the characters. Scenes include a kitchen, a bedroom, a classroom, the inside of a car, even a prison cell. And she soon pulled me into each story with a turn of phrase that quite often injected a bit of suspense into the plot.
A broad range of subjects
Topics in The Storyteller Speaks cover the whole gamut of human experiences. Gambling debt. Redundancy. A fatal accident. A loveless marriage. A petty argument with long-lasting consequences. Injustice. Theft. Suicide. And much more.
Likewise, be prepared to experience a range of emotions. Regret, joy, fear, horror, relief, shock, happiness …
Overall I thought this was a lovely first book for which I congratulate Annika. Personally I found the stories with a Dahl-like edge the best ones, and I hope Annika goes in this direction for her next volume.
But is there to be a second volume, I wonder? Let’s ask Annika that question (among others) and find out …
Interview with Annika Perry
What writers of short stories to you admire the most, and/or have influenced you the most?
One of my most recent favourite short story collections is The Snow Garden & Other Stories by Rachel Joyce (of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry fame). This book has been on my desk for the past few months as I’ve put together my book and its cover alone has been hugely inspiring. I want my stories to create the same joy, shock, sadness, poignancy as these stories.
Another influential short story writer is Raymond Carver. I have read his short story books numerous times and the understated narrative, taking brevity to the line, is incredible.
Finally, my first brush with short stories was as a child; particularly Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales. I still have my two favourite copies of these books which are by this stage well-thumbed and broken at the spine.
These stories are written so silkily smoothly. Did they flow from your pen like that or are they the result of countless rewrites?
Thank you so much! I am overjoyed that you find them so!
The main story for all of these came freely to me…often those moments when the pen seems to be moving without thought or effort; as if someone is ‘dictating’ the tales to me. Thereafter, I would leave them a few days or longer. Some only needed polishing with a few words changing, more powerful adjectives added etc. A few stories however were heavily re-written – I wasn’t pleased with the flow of two of them so I retained the core element of the story and almost started from scratch.
How long would it take you from an original idea for a story to the point where you were wholly satisfied with it?
Again, it varied depending on the length of the story and how pleased I was with the initial draft. ‘Biding Her Time’, the first story in the book, was written seamlessly over two days, however over the following two weeks I edited it for impact and conciseness. I didn’t want one remaining superfluous word!
Other times I returned to a story over a year…tweaking some words, rethinking their themes and how to best bring this across in the tale.
Some are written from a male standpoint: Do you find the male point of view more challenging?
Not at all! If anything, it is more liberating! I grew up with strong male role-models in my life, particularly my grandfather and brother and I am very close to my son. In the end, we are all human beings!
As I said in my review, the reader should be prepared to experience a range of emotions. How does a writer convey emotion?
Thank you so much for that comment in your review and I hope everyone does find this a book packed with varying emotions.
First I will say how NOT to convey emotions…by simply writing he was sad, happy, excited etc.
These emotions should all be brought out through actions, conversations, or even lack of speech!
In one instance a woman is deeply troubled and I show this through her confusion in everyday actions such as making breakfast. In another story, a woman suffers from depression and lack of confidence and this is highlighted through her clothes strewn everywhere after she’s been trying to find something she feels looks good.
Even an act of someone looking down on the ground, not making eye contact, conveys their sadness and distraction.
Are you considering writing and publishing another volume of short stories, or do you have another writing project in mind?
The Storyteller Speaks was inspired by many of the bloggers here on WordPress who encouraged me to put them together in a book – thank you! These are the best of my stories up to date so I will not be considering another short story collection in the near future.
I have written a full-length novel entitled Island Girl and this is in its last editing phase and I do hope to publish the book in 2018! Furthermore, I am hoping to publish two children’s stories that I have written, once the illustrations have been added.
Thank you Annika for your valuable insights into your writing processes. I wish you much success with The Storyteller Speaks and your novel.
Many thanks for having me on your blog, Denzil – it’s been a pleasure. The questions were excellent, ensuring I thought deeply about both my writing and future goals.
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