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Authors/New Voices Notes of Inspiration Writing/Reading

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

 

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Authors/New Voices Notes of Inspiration Writing/Reading

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