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Writer’s Blog: Hamish McGee – Writing from History

In his last post, Hamish McGee, author of ‘Doubting Thomas‘ published in Breve New Stories Issue Two, reflects on his passion for history.

What interests me? Well, that too is easy – just about everything I study interests me. I find if I care to delve into any subject it becomes interesting, and what interests me makes for a good story. So almost everything interests me … except maybe reality television.

People and history interest me. We can learn a great deal of value by studying people who have gone before us. Some we learn to follow; others we might choose to abandon.

The events and historical backdrop to the emergence of Christianity is a period that fascinates me because the events that played out two thousand years ago reverberate to this very day and ate likely to do so for millennia yet. I have a particular perspective on those events and the characters that shaped human history so profoundly and irrevocably informed by biblical research.

This is my project, my historical novel. It excites and fills me with fear in equal measure. It will be the best or worst writing will have done. Will others understand what is so clear to me? Will I be true to the characters I seem to have come to know so well?

We’ll simply have to wait and see …

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Authors/New Voices Introducing Breve New Stories Notes of Inspiration Writing/Reading

Writer’s Blog: Trudy Duffy-Wigman – Notes of Inspiration

Trudy Duffy-Wigman author of ‘My New Best Friend’ published in Breve New Stories Issue Two, talks about the authors who inspire her.

 

Being Dutch, I grew up with Simon Carmiggelt. Carmiggelt died in 1987, aged 74. He is famous in the Netherlands for his daily writings in the newspaper ‘Het Parool’. His short stories, which he signed off with ‘Kronkel’ (Kink) are observations of daily life, often melancholic, sometimes sombre but always with a great insight in the human psyche. Like few others, he was able to sketch big ideas with a minimum of words. He wrote flash fiction before the genre was invented. Some of his work is translated but I doubt whether he translates well as he is so very, very Dutch.
Another inspirational author is Godfried Bomans. Bomans died in 1971, when he was 58. Hardly any of his works – and he was a very prolific author – have been translated. He wrote short stories, essays, criticism, fairy tales and political satire. As an admirer of Charles Dickens, he founded the Haarlem branch of the Dickens Fellowship and became its president. Bomans was very media savvy and appeared regularly on (black and white) television. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that his literary peers regarded him with a measure of suspicion and disdain: he never received a literary prize, nor is he mentioned in scholarly overviews of Dutch literature, despite the fact he was widely read. Like no other he could describe what a character was about in just a few words.
A more contemporary source of inspiration is the collection of short stories written by Jhumpa Lahiri. Her work possess a quality that makes me want to stop and contemplate what I’ve just read, rather than going on to the next page. Her prose is understated, her language quiet and precise, resonating long after finishing the story.

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Writer’s Blog: Hamish McGee – Notes of Inspiration

Hamish McGee, author of ‘Doubting Thomas‘ published in Breve New Stories Issue Two , talks about the authors that inspire him.

I have known a number of inspirational individuals. Like many of you I suspect, my day and Sunday school teachers were dedicated people who shaped my love of the written and spoken word. They introduced me to the likes of Nell Harper Lee, James Leslie Mitchell (Lewis Grassic Gibbon) and William Golding; all instantly recognisable names.

William Golding taught me the meaning of ‘fable’. “Lord of the Flies” was a revelation. A story with layers of meaning? Suddenly a whole new world opened before me, beckoning me, inviting me to saturate my intellectual senses. Others such as “The Spire”, “The Inheritors”, “Pincer Martin”, “Rites of Passage” and “Darkness Visible” all, in my opinion, great works, left an indelible mark on my psyche. Mann-Booker and Nobel prizes both well deserved.

James Leslie Mitchell’s “A Scots Quair” also made a lasting impression on me. Mitchel’s writing evokes the sometimes-suffocating, sometimes-intriguing but always extraordinary atmosphere of Scottish village life. Writing as Mitchell was about a woman’s experiences of life, I was filled with wonder that a man could have such a profound understanding of a woman’s perspective.

Similarly Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” told a great story about the darkness, frailty and resilience of human nature, while simultaneously capturing the soft undulations of the Southern accent. I defy anyone to read that book without hearing the Deep South drawl and an aching in the heart. What a shame she published so little.

Hamish McGee

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Authors/New Voices current issue Introducing Breve New Stories Notes of Inspiration Writing/Reading

Writer’s Blog: Trudy Duffy-Wigman – The Idea Behind ‘My New Best Friend’

Trudy Duffy-Wigman talks about what inspired her flash fiction ‘My New Best Friend‘ published in Breve New Stories Issue Two.

Do you know that awkward moment when you hop on a bus or a train and you notice something is out of kilter? You hear the collective intake of breath by your fellow passengers and slowly realise that you are trapped – someone wants your attention, and you are going to give it, like it or not.
That is the inspiration behind this story. After decades of using public transport in every form and shape I can honestly say that overheard conversations, observations and interactions on tram, train or bus is where a lot of my ideas come from. Like the time I got on a tram in Amsterdam that happened to be full of drunken football supporters. Like the time we took the train from St Petersburg to Moscow armed with wet towels because criminals were gassing compartments to steal passengers’ credit cards. And like the time I got on a night bus in Glasgow and heard a lament from an inebriated, lonely soul.
And what do we, being sober and upright citizens, do in such situations? We don’t want to be involved. We turn away, afraid that eye contact means we are stuck with this person for the duration of the journey. We tune out the lament; blame it on the drink or the drugs. We forget this person is someone’s son, someone’s friend, a human being.
That is what the story is about. It comes not from one particular encounter; rather it is an amalgamation of several observations; I think most people will recognise it, having been in a similar situation. It is a story that needs to be told and it doesn’t need a lot of words.

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Authors/New Voices Notes of Inspiration Writing/Reading

Writer’s Blog: Michael Bloor – The Love of Reading

In his last post, Michael Bloor author of ‘The Aberdeen Kayak’ published in Breve New Stories Issue One, reflects on his love of reading and its roots.

I’ve loved reading all my life and ten years ago I found out why. The clue lay a few miles north from my home, in a building in the hamlet of Innerpeffray, in rural Perthshire. There you can find Scotland’s oldest free public library: www.innerpeffraylibrary.co.uk, founded in 1680. IMG_1630

When last I saw it, on rare warm day of early spring, the ground of the little wood beside the library was smothered in snowdrops, and the last of the winter snow could be seen clearly, glinting on the hills above Crieff. Inside the lovely old building there are many rare volumes, but the real treasure within this house of treasures is surely the Borrowers’ Register which goes back to 1747. Overwhelmingly, the readers are the rural poor: William Morrison – roadman, James Bronsler – cooper, Peter White – shoemaker, Ebenezer Clement – dyer, Peter Comrie – miller, John Drummond – mason, James McInnes – brickworks foreman, James McDiarmid – carpenter, and the rest.
Jethro Tull’s ‘Husbandry’ and Hill Burton’s ‘Emigrants Manual’ were popular items, but many borrowers seemed to read for more than self-improvement. On April 28th, 1859, Peter Comrie, the miller, borrowed ‘Fable of the Bees’ and ‘Ship of Fools;’ he was back on May 12th to borrow Scott’s ‘Witchcraft’ and Middleton’s ‘Letters;’ and he was back again on May 26th to take out Burton’s ‘Anatomy of Melancholy.’ Shortly after that he was reading a history of the French Revolution. These readers were autodidacts, snatching brief hours of leisure, peering at pages ill-lit by primitive cruisie lamps. They trekked to Innerpeffray from tenant farms and servants’ bothies to drink the sweet waters, to sample the only art and beauty that was available to them. They had fed on honey-dew and then would accept no other.
Me too, I’ve been feeding on that honeydew for sixty reading-years.

Michael Bloor

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Writer’s Blog: Michael Bloor – Notes of Inspiration

Michael Bloor, author of ‘The Aberdeen Kayak’ published in Breve New Stories Issue One, chose a few authors and stories that inspire him.

This is really tough – how can I neglect to praise Louis MacNeice’s Autumn Journal??
Nevertheless, I’m just going to mention one old inspiration and one new inspiration. BREVE-LOGOThe old favourite is William Morris’s The House of the Wolfings. Morris is my hero, just as he seems to have been a hero to everyone who knew him back then (except, possibly, his wife). The House of the Wolfings is the tale of a Gothic tribe menaced by a Roman invasion. It’s an extraordinary achievement for a Victorian gentleman, raised on the classics (at Marlborough and Oxford) and subjected to endless Imperial rhetoric on Britain as the New Rome. He contrasts the Gothic folk society with the Roman Empire, always to Rome’s disadvantage: on the one hand, the organic Gothic society, with its democracy of governance and manners, and its symbiosis of art and crafts; on the other hand, the authoritarian, war-mongering, slave-society of Rome, with a commodified art for the leisured few. Needless to say, the Goths win.
My new favourite is Island, the collected twenty short stories of Alistair MacLeod, all set in the Gaelic-speaking communities of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, where he grew up, where he returned to write every summer, and where he was buried last year. These are not heart-warming stories of an idyllic rural childhood, adorable animals and golden sunsets. They are unflinching accounts of hard lives in the fishing boats and the mines, of the divisions in families caused by education, emigration and economics. But there’s a wonderful, spare lyricism about the stories (MacLeod spoke each sentence aloud as he wrote it): they are short, graceful and simply told; adjectives are rare but always evocative – he made every word count. Like Thomas Hardy, MacLeod has memorialised a people in a landscape.

Michael Bloor

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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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Introducing Breve New Stories Submissions

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!

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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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Introducing Breve New Stories

Breve New Stories A Literary Magazine

Breve New Stories is a new literary magazine based in London.

Dedicated to original short stories, Breve New Stories aims to give emerging authors of literary short fiction the opportunity for their work to be published, distributed and – most importantly, read.

Breve New Stories believes in the short story as a single, complete artwork. By publishing a short story and a flash fiction piece in each issue, Breve New Stories gives each author the opportunity to be read and known by a growing public. Published authors will gain visibility both through the magazine and by writing on our blog about their passion for literature, their advice to aspiring writers and their future projects.

Breve New Stories will be published in print in the form of a fresh, handy pamphlet and distributed in bookshops and through our blog.

All readers and aspiring authors are welcome to explore Breve New Stories about  and submission pages, we look forward to reading your stories.

In the mean time, keep writing and keep reading!