Speaking Up For the Voiceless| #guestpost by Mark Stewart #TheAbsenceOfWings @pendragonmist

Today I’m thrilled to welcome author Mark Stewart to my blog. Mark is the author of the short story collection The Absence of Wings, and has written a great guest post about why he writes short stories for my blog today.

 

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Speaking up for the voiceless – why I write short stories

 

“I’ve enjoyed and admired the stories of Mark Stewart that I have read: they strike me as fine bonsai pieces, strong in their structure and dense in their grain, full of surprising drama.”  

Robert Macfarlane (Author of “The Wild Places”, and “Landmarks”)

 

Short stories just don’t sell, especially short stories written by unknown authors. This is the refrain I have heard in response to every submission I’ve ever made to an agent or a publisher. “I’m sorry, luvvie, but your stories just aren’t right for my list. Good luck elsewhere.” And yet in spite of such feedback I carry on writing.

There are plenty of nature books around but how many of them really tell the truth about mankind’s impact on the natural world? Humanity is running out of time to re-discover its sense of compassion, to finally stop its long and abusive relationship with nature. The oceanic biosphere is now heavily polluted, perhaps irreversibly so, with fish stocks dangerously near to collapse. Life on the land for animals in factory farms is no better; they must endure lives of unimaginable cruelty before suffering an early death. Other creatures, perhaps nobler and certainly far more innocent than humans, are being hunted to the point of extinction. And yet, in spite of a sense of impending ecological collapse, a sense that we are all standing on the gallows with the trap door about to open beneath our feet, I carry on writing.

I don’t have the enormous luxury and privilege of writing for a living. As a working dad I have to find time to write in the early hours of the morning or late at night. Either way it’s a hard slog, a struggle to find both motivation and inspiration. My mind won’t focus and my body wants to sleep. These lonely hours are what Tolkien referred to as “the bitter watches of the night”, when the dream of securing a mainstream publishing contract seems as remote as the Moon. And yet I carry on writing.

My stories are despatches from the front line of humanity’s war with nature. And like all war reporters I have been appalled and discouraged by what I’ve seen. But I won’t stop reporting back. The idea that nature is a commodity that must be exploited and consumed, that the creatures we share this world with are no more than disposable items, has to be challenged.

I was taken to task by one agent because my stories weren’t cheery enough for her taste (perhaps it was the same agent that claimed my short stories contained too many words). And yet I refuse to put down my pen or walk away from my keyboard. Because in the end I want to believe that things will change. Not just in the insular world of publishing which may one day come to value indie writers. But in the real world, where many of the animals described in my stories are struggling to survive. It is their stories that matter. They don’t have a voice and so must rely on others to speak up on their behalf. That is why I carry on writing.

About the Author

Mark Stewart is the author of two collections of short stories designed to highlight the plight of captive, endangered and mistreated animals. His first collection (The Screaming Planet) can be found online here:

http://markdestewart.wixsite.com/thescreamingplanet

The second collection (The Absence of Wings), which has consistently attracted five star reviews, is available on Amazon.

A third collection of short stories (“The Fire Trees”) is due out in June 2017.

Mark can be followed on Twitter @pendragonmist and on Facebook TheScreamingPlanet

 

About the Book

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The Absence of Wings is a collection of short stories intended to show the world through the eyes of some of the Earth’s most endangered and persecuted animals.

The collection is an ark of sorts, offering a literary refuge for creatures that may one day exist only in story books, fables and myths.

Here you will find, among other stories:

•A mariner snatched from the deck of his ship by a sea wraith

•The lament of a whale dragged onto the killing deck of a harpoon ship

•A caged polar bear whose only taste of freedom comes from a racial memory of the arctic tundra

•A shark that can swim into the sleeping minds of human beings

•And a dolphin whose only chance of returning to open water lies in the movement of the tides on one particular night of the year

These are stories that will change the way you look at the natural world.

The Absence of Wings is available on ebook and in paperback from Amazon and is out now.

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Guest Post by Elle Turner (author of Tapestry)

 

Today I’m excited to share a guest post from the lovely Elle Turner, author of Tapestry.

Hi Hayley! Thank you so much for having me on Rather too fond of Books!

I guess every writer is a reader too and most are likely to be influenced by the books they’ve read, whether this helps them to develop their own style, helps them decide what they want to write or, as in my case, unwittingly influences most aspects of their life!

The first books I remember being a big influence in my life were the Famous Five books. I talked to the characters, (out loud, not in my head. I remember my mum once calling me back from a stream in which I was paddling and having a right good old conversation to tell me to tone it down!). I wanted to be George and had a stuffed tartan dog that slept at the bottom of my bed. No prizes for guessing his name!

When I was a little older my mum gave me a few books in the Abbey Girls series by Elsie J Oxenham. These books followed the lives of young women and schoolgirls growing up near an Abbey in High Wycombe. Red-haired Joan and Joy were the original Abbey girls and the series followed them into adulthood, with eventually their own children following the original Abbey Girls’ traditions. I came to the stories when Joan and Joy were adults. Joy was already married with twins and the next generation of abbey girls were coming through the school. I was very taken with the notion that Joy had red hair. This was something that followed me into my early adult years during which time I tried several shades! (As well as red hair I also ended up with twins, so perhaps the moral there is be careful how far you let yourself be influenced… 😉 )

By the time I was in my teens I found A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford. I bought it for 20p at a jumble sale and had to make my own cover because it was falling apart. I loved that book and I’m sure it’s responsible for me wanting my own business. I was at the right age to appreciate, and benefit from, a strong female lead in a book and they don’t come much better than our Emma. I’ve just discovered the Emma Harte series of seven books is on Amazon. I didn’t realise there were seven books, I’ve only read the first three, but I daren’t buy it just now or I’d never get anything else done!

The first book on the school syllabus that I recall resonating with me was Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It’s such a famous book that we probably all know it’s about the burning of books as they are no longer allowed in society. Books are thought to cause unrest and unhappiness as they risk leading people to think. Better to be anesthetised watching screens the size of walls pump information that doesn’t take too much processing…

Eep. A scary, but wonderful, book.

Although I’d always wanted to write myself, it wasn’t something I seriously considered I could do until a few years ago. Around the time I was trying to figure out if I should go for it, I read Addition by Toni Jordan. It was the right book at the right time because I remember thinking, ‘Yes, I really want to do this too,’ while I was reading. I don’t tend to re-read books because the mountainous TBR pile is always calling, but I re-read this one.

In fact, that’s probably the only thing the books here have in common – I’ve read them all more than once!

Thank you so much again Hayley for having me on your blog. Best wishes to you and all your readers. Happy reading!

Tapestry

Tapestry

In hope, in pain,

we lose, we gain,

but always and forever

the human heart braves life

in light and in shade

A collection of twelve short stories exploring the complexities of life and love.

Tapestry – Available now from Amazon http://hyperurl.co/ymjfs2

 

Elle dedicated Tapestry to her mum so, to celebrate Mother’s Day weekend in the UK, Tapestry is free from 4-6 March 2016.

 

Elle TurnerAbout the Author

Elle Turner writes contemporary women’s fiction and lives in beautiful Scotland with her husband and two children. She loves scones, Coronation Street, all songs by Sara Bareilles and will happily admit to having little or no sense of direction. If you offer her a 50:50 she will ALWAYS get it wrong and, despite living in Scotland, she rarely manages to wear shoes that don’t leak.

If you would like to find out more about Elle or her writing, she’d love to see you at www.elleturnerwriter.com on Twitter @ElleTWriter, Instagram elletwriter or she’s on Facebook as elleturnerwriter