Writer’s Blog: Lauren Bell – The Beauty of Writing and Having Faith

In her last post, Lauren Bell author of ‘In a Land of Canaries’ published in Breve New Stories Issue Zero, talks about her passion for writing and reading.

Quite simply, I love writing. I also love reading which helps if you’re serious about writing.
For me, writing is a way to shape worlds and realities which are very different from our own, to create characters you would either love to be or have as friends, but above all to stretch one’s imagination and to entertain the impossible because the beauty of writing (in terms of fiction anyway) is that anything can happen.
I also spend a lot of time daydreaming, which isn’t very good if you’re in the middle of a work meeting, but an absolute godsend if you’re an aspiring writer and looking for snippets of inspiration to propel you put pen to paper. Anything can suffice for the opening to a story – a place, overheard (or imagined dialogue), or even a single image. But what’s most important is to write. If you want your stories to be read, you have to write them down.

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Finally, if you are serious about writing then getting your work out there is paramount. I am fortunate enough to write for STORGY – a collaborative literary ezine, where each month I am sent an image I have to write an accompanying story for. Using pictures as writing aides is a really useful technique; you study the picture, you work out what it’s showing you on a literal level, and, most importantly, what it’s not showing you. The not showing part is great because that’s where your imagination comes in and you get free-reign to write about whatever you want (so long as it links to the story in some way, no matter how small).
Simply put: writing is all about you, your ideas, the stories you want to share with the world; and you are the only one who can tell them.

 

Lauren Bell

You can read Lauren Bell’s stories here: http://storgy.com/lauren-bell/

Writer’s Blog: Michael Hampton – Notes of Inspiration

Michael Hampton author of ‘”A” Death’ published in Breve New Stories Issue Zero, talks about the authors and stories that inspire him.

The cautionary tale is as old as the hills and starts orally with your worried parents telling you not to put your hand in the fire. But the format is for grown-ups too as learning is lifelong. My short story ‘”A” death’ fits this profile, its grotesque nature identifying it as a precise literary sub-type: the conte cruel or cruel tale, a refined form that emerged from the fairy stories of Charles Perrault and Brothers Grimm, but was made explicitly modern by practitioners such as Auguste Villiers De L’isle-Adam, Guy de Maupassant and H H Munro, more generally known as “Saki”.BREVE-LOGO

De L’isle-Adam led a bohemian life, and his stories were as A W Rait notes in his 1963 introduction to Cruel Tales, “often written on dirty, crumpled scraps of paper stained with the coffee and wine of the café tables at which Villiers, generally more or less homeless, spent much of his time”, possessing titles such as ‘Flowers of Darkness’ or ‘The Apparatus for the Chemical Analysis of the Last Breath’ that hint strongly at their baroque content.

Contemporaneous with him was the short story maestro Guy de Maupassant. In ‘A Piece of String’, first published in the collection Harriet, 1884, a frugal peasant is unjustly accused of theft after being spotted picking up a bit of string off the road. The police clear him but despite the object in question (a lost wallet) being handed in, the man continues to be stigmatised by the local villagers, who suspect him of involvement come what may. Wholly innocent but unable to clear his name in the community, as a result he suffers an apoplexy and dies insane. This is classic Maupassant: a tragedy based on an impulse to which the reader is an eye-witness, but can do nothing to prevent as it unfolds in slo-mo.

The short fiction of “Saki” however can be lighter in tone, Monty Pythonesque even, but still trades on the uncanny and weird. His favoured locale is the countryside, but more especially the goings-on amongst the doomed upper classes just before the Great War: fox-hunting, card games, garden parties and Christmas gatherings often the backdrop to madness and mayhem. Ironically in “Saki” the pastoral settings are never quite what they seem. In ‘The Peace of Mowsle Barton’, 1911, a holidaying city gent discovers that the place he imagined to be the very picture of rural bliss harbours dark forces, witchcraft in fact, practised by two old women who spend their time cursing each other and everything around them. In one hilarious scene the gent watches in horror as a group of ducks drown one after the other in the village pond, while the farmhouse kettle refuses to boil as if bewitched. In the end he leaves in disgust, relieved to find himself back among the hustle and bustle of Paddington station. Relying on the odd incident rather than the quotidian ‘plotlessness’ of soap opera, the cruel tale discharges a flare into the night sky, often signalling that all is far from well in the universe. Twisted, acid and unsettling (thus sharing traits with the Edwardian English ghost story) it focuses on arbitrariness and malignant disorder, as if undisclosing the contents of a restricted police file.

Perhaps such writing is a prophylactic against insanity? But by focusing on the incident that comes out of the blue, out of nowhere, horror gets sharply etched on the reader’s disbelieving mind; so in a 24/7 news media environment suffocating in wholesale death and destruction, in end-of-the-world speculation, the trivial yet telling moment that appears to have no explicable metaphysical cause, operates as an indexical mark, generating a grim brand of humour. Once upon a time such encounters were superstitiously classified as intersection points, the workings of fate, and might still be if there was an agreed upon framework of meaning amongst human beings; but normality was the very first casualty of the World Trade Center attacks.

Michael Hampton

Writer’s Blog: Lauren Bell – Notes of Inspiration

Lauren Bell author of ‘In a Land of Canaries’ published in Breve New Stories Issue Zero, talks about the authors that inspire her.
1) Neil Gaiman – a man who can write well about practically anything and everything, and who creates such a fantastical array of memorable characters and alternative worlds in every work. Gaiman’s fantasy/mythical vision grounds itself in good old-fashioned storytelling; whether it be an adult-type fairy tale, a fable or a myth or something entirely else. His prose is lucid yet effervescent and really paints his vision of the world in the reader’s mind. I would definitely recommend American Gods, Neverwhere and Stardust – three amazing reads by a truly fabulous writer. BREVE-LOGO
2) Stephen King/Joe Hill – Now I know I’m cheating here but honestly King and Hill are quite possibly the most illustrious writers in their field. Their creativity, flair for authentic dialogue and psychotic characters has furnished classic horror and thriller reads with a literary panache most authors writing in this genre struggle with. They write with a fierce intelligence and a real zest for stories and storytelling, creating a plethora of twists and turns along the way; and gore aside, the psychological impact after reading their work is nothing short of indelible. I would definitely recommend Doctor Sleep and IT by King, and NOS4R2 by Hill.
3) Tania Hershman – a writer whose flash fiction collections literally showed me what a story could be. I first heard her work broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Upon hearing them, I was amazed at how succinct and poetic her work was. I knew she had a unique way with language; the ability to move a reader with such insight and using so few words is an achievement she manages to realise again and again and again. The White Road and Other Stories, and My Mother Was an Upright Piano are must reads for anyone who appreciates the finest storytelling.

Lauren Bell

Writer’s Blog: Michael Hampton – The Idea Behind ‘”A” Death’

Michael Hampton talks about what inspired his story ‘”A”Death’ published in Breve New Stories Issue Zero.

It is a pleasure to be asked by Breve’s editor to add a gloss to my short story ‘“A” Death’, due to be published in issue zero.BREVE-LOGO

The narrative was written during a miserable period of my life when I was on a work placement at an office in south-west London. This involved a tedious red bus journey which was occasionally brightened up by spotting some of the physical details recounted in the text, whilst the central phantasmagoric incident described here is the result of extending certain logical possibilities, or hidden dangers present in the fabric of every day life; a random suburban event against which no insurance policy can safeguard. Recently the traditional short story has been joined in the literary landscape by flash or micro fiction, even nanofiction, that differ in wordcount terms yet also bear family resemblances, certainly stylistic traits and structures that distinguish them from the novel, especially the contemporary blockbuster. ‘“A” Death’ is a minimal story, its format low on packaging, yet still capable of maintaining suspense and conveying horror in a dry, understated way, without much psychological elaboration. It is a cliché but here the facts speak for themselves, revealing life as subject to grotesque contingency, the individual despite their best efforts destined to end up as a tragicomic victim, robbed of agency. My tale is the product of daydream related with an almost administrative detachment, the sudden temporal shifts not only representing a discontinuity of experience but also the gaps between writing sessions; evidence of a slow sort of plotting, and fastidious revision.

Michael Hampton

 

Writer’s Blog: Lauren Bell – The Idea Behind “In a Land of Canaries”

Lauren Bell talks about what inspired her story ‘In a Land of Canaries’ published in Breve New Stories Issue Zero.

For me, finding inspiration and ideas for short stories is practically everywhere I look. In the case of In a Land of Canaries, my inspiration stemmed from a recent trip to London with my dad and brother. BREVE-LOGOOne of the places we visited was Canary Wharf – a realm completely unfamiliar but which also made a profound impact on me. I think what struck me most was the sheer amount of glass buildings surrounding us on all sides and how the sky was reflected back wherever we looked.

As a starting point, (which is the case with most of my short stories), I usually only need either an initial sentence or a phrase or a single image which embodies the story I want to relay. For ‘Canaries’ I can distinctly remember being on a train, leaving Birmingham City Centre behind for the day, and reflecting on our recent trip. I soon had Canary Wharf in my mind and wondered about the origin of the name. Why Canary? I wanted to try and justify the name and knew that I would write a story about Canary Wharf involving canaries.
Another aspect which I wanted to capture was the sheer awe I felt when I first saw these huge glass buildings first-hand; the layout, the structure and the reflections seemed to dwarf me, and I knew then that I would write a story about Canary Wharf with a fantastical element to it.
I enjoy writing stories that loosely fit the ‘magical realism’ spectrum and so I started to explore the possibility of Canary Wharf’s workforce as canaries in disguise, and since I was new to the area, I created a narrator who was there as a reporter – someone on the outside looking in and trying to make sense of what they were seeing.

Lauren Bell

September NEWS!

We work in the dark – we do what we can – we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art. 

 

Dear followers,

Thanks for bearing with us! It’s been quiet around here for a few weeks but we worked really hard at Breve HQ to prepare for the autumn.

As you can see, we are adding contents and information to the blog

so you will be able to enjoy Breve‘s experience both online andBREVE-LOGO on paper.

Have you seen we finally have a beautiful logo? Now you know what to look for if you are searching for new and inspiring short fiction.

With Issue Zero at the final stage of production it’s time to introduce our authors: Lauren bell and Michael Hampton. In the coming weeks you will get to know them better as they will be talking about their stories and projects and sharing their passion for literature, here on Breve New Stories blog.

And last but not least, Breve newsletter is ready for your inbox!

SIGN UP HERE  for all the updates, including call for submissions and the opportunity to order your copy of Breve New Stories Issue Zero straight from us. Exciting times indeed!

 

 

Submissions for Issue Zero are now Closed

Dear all,

Thank you for submitting your stories to Breve New Stories. We are amazed by the great response and it is going to be tough to pick the two authors to feature in our first issue. Submissions are now closed, but don’t worry if you couldn’t make it this time, we will be open for entries again very soon.

These two months of Breve confirmed  what we already believed: out there it’s full of new talented writers looking for more challenges and opportunities. This inspires us in our project and makes us want to reach further, hoping that one day Breve will be acting as a springboard for succesful literary careers and as a reference point for all those starting.

August is going to be a month of intense work here at Breve and while we get ready to send Issue Zero to the printers we welcome your support, so if you don’t follow us already, please do! You can follow our blog or find us on Facebook, and on Twitter (coming soon).

Keep watching this space!

 

Don’t miss the deadline: submissions close on 31 July!

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Time for procrastination is over: submissions for Breve New Stories Issue Zero close in less than two weeks!

Enter your best short story and/or flash fiction by July 31st and they might be published in the very first issue of Breve. Selected authors will also have the opportunity to write for Breve’s blog and hold printed copies of their work in September:  not a bad way to welcome autumn, hu?

For more info and guidelines click here.

Don’t forget to follow us on facebook and on brevenewstories.wordpress.com.

Good luck!

Little Magazine Life

Breve HQ is buzzing, less than a month left to submitt, tons of great stories to read and a beautiful book to desing. The photo depicts just one of our attempts to be organised and stay on top of our excited minds (we integrate with many cups of tea, walks in the park and the occasional visit to the pub).

Breve Weekly Plan

Coming soon: Breve Monthly Newsletter, Breve questionnaire on your dream lit mag and lit community….and much more.

Thank you to all of you -so many!, for submitting your stories, we appreciate how much hard work you put into every single piece and we are honoured you are sharing them with us.

Thank you also to every single reader who got in touch to wish us good luck in our adventure, your support means the world to us.

Your stories and your love for literature fuel our passion, it’s great to have you on board!

The Emerging Writer

Breve New Stories seeks submissions from new and emerging authors.cropped-cropped-cropped-img_0476.jpg

Despite the vagueness of the term emerging, we received many entries from writers that recognised themselves as such. Conventionally, an emergent author or artist is one that has some evidence of professional achievement but not a substantial record of accomplishment and who is not recognised as established by other artists, curators, critics and industry insiders. This description focuses more on the financial/professional status of being an author than on the individual development of the writer per se, the process of learning the craft and the daily challenges of creation.

The term works as a sort of barrier between writers published by medium/big publishing houses that have plenty of press coverage, who market aggressively for their authors and can therefore often guarantee them a consistent compensation, and all the remaining authors in the most different places, be that writing on-line or self publishing. At the same time emergent writers represent a pool of talents from which the mainstream industry often outsources the best, freshest  and most innovative works of literature. There is also no way to deny that in this process are involved, other than talent, lots of luck and lots of politics. It is a sad but widely known truth in all creative environments, but one that doesn’t stop writers from writing and wanting to ’emerge’.

Breve‘s look on this is this: the writer is the one who writes, who consistently strives to refine one’s skills by giving time and energy to one’s work. The writer is the one that is brave enough to embrace the challenge and takes the risk not only to write, but to be read by others. Emerging writers, as new writers, are not second class authors, they can only be good or bad writers, and together with the so-called ‘established’ authors, are writers in progress, working everyday on their skills, styles and inspirations. The literary quality of a work does not necessarily run parallel to the hierarchy of establishment.

Today there are many ways to pursue this goal: the Internet,  self publishing, MFA in creative writing  and literary projects such as Breve. All these opportunities are viable but all of them ask writers to look beyond their ambition for status to what writing means to them, they all ask: how bad do you want to write? That bad? Then be a writer.

Two different intakes on the emerging writer:

 https://overland.org.au/2013/05/pity-the-emerging-writer-or-not/

http://www.emergingwritersfestival.org.au/2013/06/emerging-writers-festival-2013-keynote-astrid-lorange/

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