Introduction

When I was first asked to edit my personal anthology my first response was to panic. What did I know of short stories or their literary value? I only began to write at the age of forty! I’m a working-class writer and a working-class reader. Until my studies, my novel reading involved stealing my mam’s Shirley Conran’s off her bookshelf, maybe having a Jackie Collins stuffed under my pillow, or feasting on a Jilly Cooper, loaned from the local library. Before that, my primary school teacher gifted me classics, The Chronicles of Narnia or Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree. She knew I would take good care of the books, no accidental spills or grubby finger marks from this student. Farther back still, stories came from the lilting North East voice of my nanna, who tucked me under the bedclothes in her big brass bed, and recounted an endless array of family sagas, until the wee small hours. 
 
I came to writing late, and to reading short stories later still, but now I realize that, although I’m not well read, I do read well. I’ve always felt the pull of a good story, always understood there is a certain structure, a magical weaving of words and I’ve learnt to shrug off the shame of having never read Tolstoy or Virginia Woolf. Recently, my reading world has widened, I have begun study the craft a little more closely and, in that study, I have discovered short stories and the absolute pleasure I gain from reading them. My anthology is eclectic, not thematic, except to say that each of these stories has produced an emotional response in some way and hopefully, in reading them, this student of the craft has learnt a little something. 

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