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Authors/New Voices Tom Heaton

Writer’s Blog: Tom Heaton – Decline and Fall. The idea behind “The Last Roman”

Tom Heaton talks about what inspired his short Story ‘The Last Roman’ published in Breve New Stories Issue Three.

In times of great political, social and cultural upheaval, it’s vital to maintain the supply of serio-comic short stories.
In our own apocalyptic moment, I took it upon myself to shoulder that burden.
Surveying the rubble of a collapsing civilization, I thought it might be helpful to get the viewpoint of someone who had been there before. So I resurrected a Roman. A Roman, I thought, would at least have first-hand insight into declines and falls.
Unfortunately I got the wrong sort of Roman. I’d hoped for a statesman, an intellectual, someone used to the cut and thrust of politics, a meditative and observant actor in the great events of the day. Instead I got Marcellus, an insignificant centurion posted to the very edge of the empire. A self-regarding, small-minded nonentity, blind to the great changes that were happening around him, uninterested in politics: sentimental, petty, fickle. Someone it turned out, who would fit right into our contemporary crisis.
And then Marcellus took over the story. I’d thoughtlessly placed him in a world that he could not begin to comprehend. His mind was stuck on boyhood memories and love affairs from millennia ago. He was static while everything changed around him, a man adrift on time. And there were things he needed to reconcile within himself. Aspects of his character. Regrets. Even after two thousand years, Marcellus still had unfinished business. With himself.
So I failed to write the great short story that would enlighten these dark days for democracy and liberalism. I’m sorry. Instead I give you Marcellus, who will be around long after you are gone, listening to the hum of his glass case, rotating his head, watching and not comprehending.

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Authors/New Voices Introducing Breve New Stories Notes of Inspiration

Writer’s Blog: Trudy Duffy-Wigman – A New Language

In her last blogpost Trudy Duffy-Wigman, author of My New Best Friend published in Breve New Stories Issue Two, describes her experience on writing in her second language.

The fact that I am using a language that is not my own has a huge bearing on my writing. It brings challenges; like finding the right expression to convey a concept or an emotion. A benefit is that I am acutely aware of the workings of a language; the fact is that some words, feelings or expressions just cannot be translated. This has an effect on what you -what I- write. I find myself drawn to language that is pared down to its essential core- simple and sparse, devoid of flowery additions. Strangely enough, writing in Dutch is all but impossible nowadays. Though Dutch friends and family compliment me with the fact that I still speak Dutch without a trace of an accent and use the correct sentence structure I have found out that when I try and write something in my mother tongue, I throw it aside in disgust. Clunky and clumsy, not in tune with what I wanted to say.
Some twenty years ago I lived and worked in Russia for a while. Waiting for my part of the project to start, I filled the time with teaching Dutch conversation at the University of St Petersburg. One of the professors of Dutch of the university was incredibly accomplished in Dutch; not an easy language to learn. He had no trace of an accent whatsoever. The only way you could spot it was that he used archaic expressions; expressions not used for the last thirty years. He had never been abroad, which made it even more of an accomplishment (and indicated he had been trained by the KGB!).
It saddens me, not being able to be playful in my own language anymore. Perhaps you have to be surrounded and immersed by a language in order to be able to write in it.

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

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

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 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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Authors/New Voices Notes of Inspiration Writing/Reading

Writer’s blog: Barbara Stevenson – Writing in Orkney

In her last blogpost Barbara Stevenson, author of Zuri Mtu published in Issue One, describes her life in Orkney, between history and nature.

I am lucky to live in Orkney, with the sea all around as inspiration. Not only that, there is five thousand years of history on my doorstep – from my front garden I can look down onto the neolithic village of Skara Brae. It is a natural step to imagine how the people there lived and I am currently working on a Stone Age whodunnit. With the ongoing archaeological dig at the Ness of Brodgar nearby, discoveries are constantly forcing historians to question what they knew about the time. I have been surprised at the sophistication of the artwork and decorations found there. Although the setting is important, I prefer writing stories about the people and how they deal with and overcome problems no matter where they live or what social circumstances they find themselves in.IMG_1630
Orkney has a vibrant community of writers, artists and musicians which can be a distraction from actually doing any writing, but it is also fantastic for bouncing ideas around and coming up with stories.
In my other life as a veterinary surgeon, I meet a variety of wonderful people and animals who say and do remarkable and funny things that wouldn’t be believed in fiction. Unsurprisingly this proves to be a fantastic source for creative projects. My novel, The Organist, which will be launched in February with Yolk Publishers, is about a vet living in Edinburgh just before the First World War.

 

Barbara Stevenson

 

 

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Authors/New Voices Introducing Breve New Stories

Little Magazine Life 2

November marks six months since Breve New Stories project was launched. These months have been full of great satisfactions and experiences. The first call for entries has seen more than one hundred stories submitted. We have many Facebook, Twitter and Breve Newsletter subscribers and the long awaited ‘Issue Zero’ is finally out. Now it’s time to think of the future.FullSizeRender (5)

The incredible gift of reading such an eclectic mix of interesting stories and talking to immensely talented and promising writers encourages us to keep working hard on this big dream despite the limited resources. Breve is a self-funded publishing project put together by a small team, although most of the time it’ s a team of one (!) fuelled not only by the passion for literature, but also by the kind words of its supporters, as well as the many, many cups of tea.

In order for Breve magazine to continue growing we are introducig a few changes.

Issues will not be published monthly as we had previously planned but will be bimonthly instead, starting from January 2016. Issue One will then be the first of six issues, and we are very much lookking forward to offering you you great short fiction for the coming year.  We will still have space on our blog for each author to talk about their projects and inspirations and we hope this will encourage our readers to take part in the debate, writing to us and spreading the word. Our dream is still to bring on print new and beautiful short fiction and to let as many people as possible know how much we love it, and our goal is to really support the contributors by offering visibility and, hopefully soon, a real cheque.

To achieve all this we need all the support you are willing to give. There is always more than one way to help when you believe in an idea: every little helps.

You can donate from £1 up to however much you are able and/or willing to pay, to receive a copy of Issue Zero and start your collection of Breve New Stories magazine (it will be worth A LOT in a few years).

You can pre-order a copy of Issue One that will be delivered to you in January 2016, just when the winter blues kicks in and you need a literary pick-me-up!

You can share your love by reblogging this post, send it to a friend, share it on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+…go crazy!

You can stock Breve New Stories in your bookshop, shop, cafe, kiosk….

You can ask for a complimentary press copy of Issue Zero and review Breve on your blog/website/magazine.

You can send us your amazing short stories and flash fiction to be published on Breve.

You can leave a comment, send us an email or a picture if you like what you read and you want to see more. We welcome positive and helpful feedback more than anything!

 

 

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Authors/New Voices Notes of Inspiration Writing/Reading

Writer’s Blog: Michael Hampton – On the Act of Writing

In his last post, Michael Hampton author of ‘”A” Death’ published in Breve New Stories Issue Zero, reflects on the act of writing.

from Unshelfmarked

In declaring writing to be an ACT consisting of modes and exercise (eg the jargon of art criticism), before it is a definitive profession, and therefore closer to Derridean écriture, or the presence of writing, I would like to return to the ground and issue of writing at its most fundamental level, that of mark-making. Starting out once again from the primordial human impulse: to articulate signs in language systems, or para-language systems such as cuneifrom and hieroglyphics, re-sets the way words are perceived, and therefore used; forever bearing in mind that their order and meaning can always be fatally scrambled.

 

The emergence of so called art writing (see my thoughts on this phenomenon in Letters to the Editor Art Monthly #352, Dec-Jan 2011/12) has taken place at the interstice of these psychic domains, the literary turn in fine art of the 1990s exemplified today by migratory figures such as Tom McCarthy and Katrina Palmer, or the calligraphic modernist painting of Cy Twombly. Personally I try hard to confound the way society and the market force us to become wholly defined by our job descriptions, hence my endeavours over the years to produce verse, book & exhibition reviews, philosophical discourse and occasional short fiction, with a current leaning towards conceptual writing.

I’ve been assembling a set of prosthetic extensions to texts already in print. Here the term ‘extension’ is suggestive of its modern usage, applicable to hair, building, ballet movement and web addresses. Typically these extensions will derive from sources at the edge of the popular, but not necessarily high brow either. For instance in ‘The Holmes Doppel’ I combed through dozens of cheap imitations of Conan Doyle stories in the British Library and extracted instances of cross-dressing or disguise, which have then been aggregated as a list or anthology, illuminated by an endnote. In ‘Pulled from the Wreckage’, fragmentary material is lifted from Wreckage, 1893, a collection of short stories by the now forgotten symbolist writer Hubert Crackenthorpe, which gets butted up against technical data taken from the report into the Concorde air crash of 2000, and then blended with the diary notes of a London flaneur, in act of unlikely bricolage; a reminder that no text is ever finished absolutely.

Michael Hampton

Michael Hampton’s Unshelfmarked: Reconceiving the artists’ book ISBN 978-1-910010-06-8 is published by Uniformbooks www.uniformbooks.com

 

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Introducing Breve New Stories Writing/Reading

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/