First and foremost I love to read. Ever since I was a small girl, my nose has been buried in a book of some kind. Beatrix Potter and Dr Seuss progressed to Enid Blyton. Then there was a small, furtive digression into Mills and Boon and Barbara Cartland during my teenage years. I make no excuses for my brief addiction to these tales of young love, and the terrible horniness of the Dukes and waifs of bygone days. It is natural, I think, for teens to be drawn to anything remotely sexual. Perverted little buggers we were! Then on to the laughter of Douglas Adams, the intellectual silliness of Pratchett, the terror of King, and never forget the more high-brow literary gems that we inflicted on ourselves in our twenties, pretending to have enjoyed Leo Tolstoy’s daunting tomes, War and Peace and the slightly less agonising Anna Karenina. Following were those unforgettable, riveting, and down to earth tales, like Fried GreenTomatoes, and The Colour Purple. You connect with the people in those worlds. I will always remember Izzy and Celie.
Apart from an unreasonable quantity of recipe books – yes I unashamedly worship the Goddess of the often eye-wateringly embarrassing plays on cute words, Nigella, and feast my ears and eyeballs on the profane manliness of Gordon Ramsay, not to mention marvel at Guy Fieri’s impressive bite capacity – anthologies have always made up a large part of my collection. I would usually buy them because one short story had caught my eye. Very occasionally I would enjoy every one in a collection, but not often. Some anthologies, like Jennie Orbell’s compilation, Eternal, have the quality of any good novel, and leave you wanting more as you come to the last page of the last story, but there are very few of those. The problem that I often found, due to my obsession with never leaving anything unfinished, was that I would manfully plough through every tedious page in a book on principle, and feel merely irritated at having wasted precious reading time at the end.
And then I discovered the single short story. There are well over sixty thousand of them on Amazon alone. With the thousands of full length novels selling for ninety nine cents, or going for free, why would I pay for one lonely little story? The answer to that is the same as why I would pay fourteen to twenty dollars for any other book. Because I want to enjoy what I read, and not just grit my teeth and stubbornly hope to find a good bit, reading through something which I really don’t enjoy, merely because it was cheap or free. A decent sized slab of my other addiction, chocolate, is a little more expensive and gone in a lot less time. So my single short story collection grows on my Kindle, as does the list of my newly favourite authors, and my own contributions to that genre will also grow, unapologetically, for those of my readers who enjoy only one, small and twisted tale now and again.
Till tomorrow – if those fickle Gods of the internet allow it. xxxx