When I first started putting together anthologies of short stories at Clarendon House back in late 2017, I had no real idea what kinds of submissions I would receive. Would they be any good?
It had been apparent for some time that there were a great many writers out there trying to publish their work. The arrival of self-publishing in the last few years meant that new channels had opened for writers to achieve that dream of seeing their own names in print. Sites like Amazon were swiftly saturated with books of various sizes and kinds, and remain packed with such material today. Whether or not all of these books were or are any good was and is another matter.
How does one determine whether a story is ‘any good’?
Taste enters into it, of course, but it may surprise many to learn that there are fundamentals to storytelling which are not a matter of taste, but of observation and application. Once these basics have been mastered, the strengths (and weaknesses) of any work of fiction become quickly apparent. My book, How Stories Really Work, is an introduction to those basics, and I recommend it to all authors, no matter what kind of story they are writing or want to write.
That does not mean - as some may assume it means - that ‘all stories have to be alike’. Just as music possesses twelve unique named tones - and thus there are only twelve starting notes for a key - so fiction has a small number of basic principles, from which all genres, all plots, all characters, are born. But, as with songs, no story is exactly the same: they are grouped together into types, and have some similarities, but also vast differences: the Odyssey is not Pride and Prejudice; Star Wars is not To Kill a Mockingbird. Many would be amazed by the hidden similarities between these and between all stories, but those likenesses do not rob all tales of their delightful uniqueness.
‘Delightfully unique’ is an applicable way of describing the tales in this volume. Gold contains all those stories that won the support of readers in the competitions that began with Flashpoint back in March 2018 and proceeded through Galaxy, Storm, Vortex, Window, Carrier Wave, Cadence and Fireburst. It also includes stories from other collections, including Steve Carr’s Sand and Gary Bonn’s Through Another’s Eyes. And, furthermore, there are one or two gems in this book from Rapture, Enigma and Miracle, which have not yet had their reader votes taken at this writing.
In short, you have in your hands the pure ‘gold’ of a selection of tales which have delighted readers already in their places of origin, but which have proven to have the power to entertain beyond those volumes. Spanning science fiction and fantasy, comedy and literary stories, poetry and magic realism, thrillers and thoughtful tales, Gold is a treasure trove of some of the best short fiction from 2018.
Look out for Gold here.