Today, I am talking to the lovely Helen Yendall about her venture into self publishing an anthology called Paperchase. And it’s a subject close to my heart, short stories. Isn’t it a fabulous cover. So without further ado…
Q: Why did you decide to publish an e-book of short stories?
Well, it certainly wasn’t for fame and fortune! I’ve had some success with published articles, poetry and short stories but not had a book of any kind published. It’s almost unheard of for unknown writers to have collections of short stories published in the traditional way, so I thought I’d go down the self-publishing route. It was fun and very satisfying to see the end result. Although, I must admit, when I pressed ‘publish’, it was rather a nerve-wracking moment.
Q: Why Nerve-Wracking?
When you’re published by, say, a magazine, you’re very protected. All the necessary editing, checking, illustrations and marketing is done by someone else, so I suddenly felt very ‘exposed’. What if no-one bought or liked my book? What about typos, complaints or bad reviews? And – importantly – how was I going to promote it so that people would even know it existed?
Q: Do the stories in ‘Paperchase and other stories’ have a theme?
Yes. I don’t write many traditional boy-meets-girl romance stories, so although my theme is definitely ‘love’ it’s not simply that, rather it’s ‘finding love in unexpected places and in unexpected ways’. At train stations, on a bus, in the middle of a field, through a knitting circle… my stories touch on love for our neighbours, children, parents, friends and grandchildren. I hope the stories are uplifting and life-affirming and that if you have a tear in your eye at the end of one or two, it’s because the story’s moved you, not because it’s upset you!
Q: Do you have a favourite story in the collection?
Ooh, that’s like asking a mother to choose her favourite child! But if I’m pushed, I have to say that ‘The Curse of The Sheep Baby’ is a particular favourite of mine. I wrote it several years ago, when I was doing a Creative Writing course at Birmingham University. We were put into groups of 7 and had to come up with a fitting theme and each write a story on that theme. We chose the 7 deadly sins and I was given ‘envy’. The story I came up with was prompted by a newspaper article I’d just read about women in China who didn’t want to give birth in the year of the Sheep (which, incidentally, we are just about to enter again, when the new Chinese Year starts on February 19th). I liked the story but it spent many years being rejected by magazines and coming nowhere in competitions until, finally, it was placed in a competition in Writers Forum magazine and published, with a beautiful photograph of a Chinese baby. It’s nice to be able to get the story ‘out there’ again by including it in this collection.
Q: Your cover is very striking. What was the inspiration behind that?
Thank you. I wanted the book to have a snappy title and ‘Paperchase’ is the only story in the collection with a one-word title, so it seemed the obvious choice. Then it was a case of working with the illustrator to create a design that not only reflected that story but some of the other stories too. On reflection, the cover is perhaps a little too dark and spooky (none of the stories are gothic in any way!) so perhaps I should have gone for some brighter colours but overall, I’m really pleased with the cover.
Thank you so much for inviting me to be a guest on your blog today, Della!
Paperchase and Other Stories is available here as an e-book, priced at £1.99