I’ve been busy with some short stories lately. It’s especially interesting, I think, when one is writing to a brief. The first time I did that was some years ago when Ra Page at Comma Press asked me if I’d like to try my hand at a horror story involving modern technology for an anthology he was editing. Horror? modern technology? Not really my style, but when I mentioned it to my husband, his response was bracing: ‘You’re a writer, aren’t you? So, write something.’ I did. I wrote a story, ‘Safe as Houses’ about a house in which everything is controlled by state of the art technology and what happens when something gets into the system.
It was fun, so I was happy to say yes when my crime-writing friend, Kate Ellis, invited me to submit a story for a collection with a rather unusual starting point. Every story is to be based on a photograph of Pembrokeshire by David Wilson in a collection published by Welsh publisher Graffeg, who’ll also be publishing the short stories. Wilson specialises in wonderfully atmospheric black and white photographs and it was hard to know which one to choose. A farmhouse about to be engulfed by mist rolling down from the hills? A deserted and rusting petrol station? A burial chamber outlined against a stormy sky? In the end I settled for a view of the windswept beach at Freshwater West with a path leading through the dunes. I finished the story this week and sent it off. That’s something I love about writing short stories: the satisfaction of having completed something. A novel by contrast is such a long haul.
I’m very much looking forward to seeing what the others make of their photo and I’ll write about that when the anthology comes out.