Yesterday evening was the final step in the wonderful process of the West Midlands Readers’ Network 2018 Short Story Commissions project. Having visited the reading groups we were paired with, the four other writers and I took time over the summer to write our stories, inspired by our discussions of the narrative elements they were interested in. We returned to our groups to read them our stories in the early autumn, and yesterday we came together at the Birmingham and Midland Institute to speak with the wonderful organiser, Roz Goddard, about the process, and read excerpts from our stories to an audience made up of members of the participating reading groups, friends and family.
‘None the Wiser’ by Kate Innes takes place in a haberdashery in recently bombed WWII Shrewsbury.
‘The Government is in Place’ by Susan James has a Hungarian woman reflecting on the shattered hopes of the 1956 uprising, and wondering whether or not to trust Gorbachev.
‘The Last of the Real Men’ by Paul McDonald offers us the dying minutes of an offensive and unrepentant comedian in a future where heterosexuality is no longer the norm.
‘Milly’ by Ashok Patel follows the development of the relationship of a Shropshire boy with his childhood playmate, and with his embarrassingly old parents.
In my story, ‘Tiyanak’, an elderly widow hears the cries of an infant every night, and finds help for her troubles when she meets the Filipino carer next door.