The Storyteller Speaks + Interview with Annika Perry

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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.

Annika Perry The Storyteller Speaks

Denzil TheBookOwl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

 

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119 responses to “The Storyteller Speaks + Interview with Annika Perry

  1. Wow! 😀 Denzil, thank you so much for your wonderful glowing review – I am overjoyed reading this! It’s been a pleasure being here and the interview was a joy with insightful questions into both my writing and future goals. Many thanks again.

  2. A great review with interesting questions. I liked your phrase ” silkely, smoothly ” and find it apt.
    Also interesting how you placed the book cover among red chillis. Reminds me of one of one of Annika’s stories: “Chillis in my handbag”.
    I am sure this interview leaves Annika delighted
    Miriam

    • Denzil

      Yes I chose the image with that particular story in mind Miriam, and I liked the image too. Thanks for stopping by and for your positive comments about the interview and the post.

    • Miriam, that phrase – silkily, smoothly – struck me too and I couldn’t believe it was about my writing!! As you can imagine I gave a cheer of joy! Oh yes, I’m more than delighted with the interview- it’s been great to be here and discuss writing, books and the future.The banner used by Denzil is terrific- so striking and of course direct reference to one of my longer stories. Perfect!😀😀

  3. What a brilliant review and interview! Congratulations Annika and thanks Denzil…this storyteller really knows how valuable emotions are and how they affect us. 🙂

    • Balroop, thank you so much – oh yes, sometimes I wonder if I don’t live too much on my emotions! 😀I can’t help but notice them all around me and they became the core of all my stories. A wonderful review and in-depth interview, indeed!

  4. This was a terrific interview with Annika. Denzil, you asked great questions. I’m always interested in the backstory of writing – what inspires, what demands intense review, and what a writer hopes the response will be. I especially like the question and answer about conveying emotion as I think this can be a downfall of less experienced writers. Annika’s book is on my shelf and I hope to get to it soon.

    • Shari, the skill of a good interviewer is to bring out thoughts and emotions that the person being interviewed may not consciously be aware of themselves … and Denzil managed just that! I love learning more about backstory to novels and it’s a delight to be able to share mine. When you have a chance to read my book you will find a brief section at the back where I have included some information behind the stories, what inspired them, what some of them refer to. Many have found this a positive and rewarding conclusion to the book. Warmest thanks for your thoughtful comment. 😀🌺

    • Denzil

      Thanks a lot Robbie. Some books and interviews are as easy to do as falling off a bike, but infinitely more pleasant!

  5. Wonderful review and interview with Annika, Denzil. I loved Annika’s thought provoking answers and agreed with so much, particularly the question where she describes the detail that we need in order to convey emotion. I look forward to reading the book myself.

  6. Mike Perry

    Like the review Denzil. I have bought and read the book and agree with every word you say.

    Mike

    • Darlene, how true about short stories not being easy…for me it’s a matter of reigning them in as they want to wander into longer pieces! Instead it’s vital to encapsulate everything into a seamless shorter work!

  7. Such an insightful interview – both questions and answers. I loved the answer about how to show emotions, Annika, and it’s a lot easier to explain what not to do, isn’t it? Showing versus telling is context-bound, as your examples demonstrate. I’m so looking forward to your novel. And children’s books! You’re on a roll! Thanks for hosting the interview, Denzil. 🙂

    • Diana, I wondered if I was ‘copping out’ by writing what not to do … but I feel so strongly about this so thought it a good way to start answering the question. I love nuances in writing, the subtle reveal and it’s not difficult. You’re not kidding about being on a roll!! After the appearance in the local paper I’ve been asked by the private school nearby to come and give a talk to their creative writing group as ‘an inspiring author’!! Of course, I said yes! Although I’m in a mild state of panic and will now work on the talk, etc!! It’s great to know you’re excited about my novel…I’ve done a bit more editing and very pleased with that work. Phew…school holiday week so I’m taking a few hours break this week!! Happy Writing, my friend! 😀❤️

    • Bless you, Mary Ann! 😀 Thank you so much! My latest venture will be my first ever school visit … it would be a doddle for you, but I’m in a flux of excitement and panic! Over the moon you loved my book.

      • So what grade level are you talking about with a school visit? I recall my students asking me to read some of my poetry aloud. Did that in Germany when I visited in 2014 as well. During National Poetry Month, one of my poems was read over the school intercom for morning announcements. How touching that was.

  8. I confess I’m bookmarking this to read later, when I’ve finished Annika’s book. What I’m doing is reading her stories intermittently while reading novels, instead of all at once. I think that way it allows each individual story to sink in. I will say though that I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far and I’m finding it hard to put down. Discipline!

    • Denzil

      I think that’s a good approach to short stories Jennifer. And particularly appropriate for these busy days when we often find snippets of time to read rather than long stretches.

        • Denzil

          I love Thomas Hardy, Jennifer. If I wasn’t so fixated on reading new stuff, I’d read all his novels over again.

          • Here I am again, three novels later. 🙂

            I loved your review, Denzil. You captured the essence of The Storyteller Speaks very well. After finishing all 21 of Annika’s compelling and well-written stories, I held to my first opinion of the favourite: The Whiteout Years. I found it particularly moving and was pleased then to see it had been short-listed for a short story competition. Well-done, Annika Perry!

    • Jennifer, I’m smiling at your self-restraint and that you’re teasing out the stories to let each stand out on its own! A terrific idea! I’ve used that approach for poetry but may well adopt it for short story books. Enjoy the rest of the book and This post when you return to it. Lovely to read your comment, Many thanks! 😀

  9. I loved this review and interview! I am half-way through Annika’s book and am really enjoying it. I am pacing myself because if I didn’t I would race through and maybe not appreciate the stories properly. Annika – I was so interested by your answers to Denzil’s questions! I hadn’t heard of Raymond Carver until very recently when I read a short autobiographical story of his in The Granta Book of the Family.
    Fantastic post – well done both of you!

  10. Fabulous interview with Annika. I can’t wait to get to her book. I loved when Annika said ‘how not to bring out emotion’ – bang on! We need to emit emotion through character mood and feelings. Wonderful! 🙂

    • Debby, I just love eking out the emotion through these various strategies… it’s such fun! I think just before I received the questions I was reading a book which was very much ‘telling’ the feelings and it became tiresome and irksome – hence my immediate response of what not to do! I’m likewise looking forward to reading your latest book, Debby ..I’ve got three weeks of reading planned during my time in Sweden at Easter! Can’t wait!! 😀

  11. Another excellent review of your short story collection, Annika. Having read it myself I fully agree with Denzil about the emotional impact. Also an excellent interview. You have so much in the works. Exciting times indeed!

  12. I look forward to reading Annika’s book. It’s on my bulging TBR list but I am slowly working my way to it. Best wishes to you, Annika, for much success! Hugs 😘 Nice post, Denzil!

    • Thank yyou so much, Janice! 😀 Oh, I totally understand about bulging TBRs … but do enjoy when you get a chance. Most of books are on kindle but your paperback is on my desk, and I’ve decided to take this to Sweden at Easter on my three week holiday. With no internet, TV, computer I’m looking forward to a full immersive reading experience! Can’t wait!

      • Thank you, Annika. I hope you enjoy it. The sequel is finished and in the hands of my beta readers. I think the second book is much better than the first. My writing has improved, thank goodness. hugs xx

  13. Denzil you are a gifted interviewer. I thought I knew Annika–now I know so much more. “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.”–it’s phrases like this that pulled me through story after story without the ability to put the book down. Nicely done, both of you.

    • Jacqui, you are so right about Denzil being a gifted interviewer…he managed to reach into the heart of my writing and got me to open up about it. At times it almost scared me how some stories were almost written by themselves! I’m over the moon that you felt so pulled in by them! Many thanks for your thoughtful comment. Xx

  14. What a super Interview Annika.. I loved reading … Denzil you do an amazing job here with your reviews, and I apologise to both of you, as I have been caught up within my own activities of late and not spending as much time in WP so missed both of your posts when they were first published..
    Have a wonderful Day both of you.. On this special day.. May it be filled with Love and Blessings to you both..
    Love Sue xx <3

  15. Wonderful interview, Denzil, and I’m in the process of reading Annika’s book now – enjoying it, as I knew I would. I agree with how the words flow, pulling the reader into the scene with such ease. Great work, Annika! 🙂 ❤

  16. This is a great interview, Denzil! You showcase Annika and her debut book so well. I like that the questions truly probe the essence of the book. Annika, I enjoyed when you said that it was liberating to write from the male point of view – too often we get caught up in using the viewpoint of the same gender as us so it’s great to see you stepping out of the norm 🙂

    • Christy, I love the freedom of stepping out of the norm! It’s taken a while to find the confidence to do so but oh, how much fun! It’s amazing how the writing changes, the emotions and personalities that are revealed! Many thanks for your thoughtful comment. 😀

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