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Peter Astle's 'Twists and Turns' collection is here!

Peter Astle is a former media and English lecturer from Derby, UK. He’s had several short stories published in the Derby Telegraph, the People’s Friend and the Inner Circle Writers' Magazine.

Most of his short stories are set in or around Derbyshire and have twist endings.

Peter recently won the opportunity to publish his own collection of stories with Clarendon House Publications with his competition-winning short story ‘Following Gita’ in Enigma: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Crime/Mystery/Thriller Anthology 2018 -- plus, in 2019, he won The Great Clarendon House Writing Challenge, which earned him another book contact! One of these contracts is now fulfilled with the recent publication of his new collection Twists and Turns. I thought you might like to read my foreword for that book, so here it is:


Occasionally I come across a collection which strikes a personal chord with me as a reader, and this book is one of those. In this case, it’s partly because the stories mainly take place in Derbyshire, which is the neighbouring county to my own beloved Yorkshire. I live close to the border between the two, and frequently journey into the green and wooded hills of the Derwent Valley (where the famous World War II Dambusters trialled Heath Robinson’s ‘bouncing bomb’) as well as further in to the magical town of Matlock Bath; I often visit the wonders of Castleton with its mediaeval castle and jewel-strewn caves, or drive through the narrow lanes of the marvellous countryside, scattered with ancient villages. I think I’ve climbed the steep hill known as Mam Tor five times now, once in the dark, placing my hand on the cairn at the summit just as the sun came up.

But the power of these stories lies in more than their ability to evoke a sense of place. There’s an ease with which the author manages to slip the reader into each tale so that after a few pages you realise that you have been captivated and you’re not about to put the book down until you finish at least that one story — and then you slide into the next without even noticing. It’s almost uncanny, this propensity which Astle has as a writer to grab your attention: is it to do with character? Or pace? Or realism? Or some combination of those, mixed with other qualities too? I think it’s the latter. Before you know it, you are in the central character’s head, moving along a line of plot, totally immersed in the narrative, convinced by the realities described (even when incredible events take place) drawn further in at a measured pace. Such master-manipulation comes with the added characteristic of invisibility — you don’t quite see or feel it happening.

There’s more. The collection is called Twists and Turns not just because Derbyshire’s country lanes wind like hypnotic serpents between vistas of green countryside — the stories themselves will curve back on the reader in unexpected and entertaining ways. These are not just ‘plot twists’ for the sake of it, but signs of a master storyteller: the reader is caught off-guard, but immediately reflects back and recognises that ‘Of course, that was the way of it’ — though it wasn’t spotted at the time. Twists which are woven into the woof and warp of a tale are the hardest to pull off, but here you’ll find the author manages it again and again.

In short, you’re in for a treat. I advise you to make sure that you have several hours set aside, because this isn’t a book you’ll find easy to set aside until tomorrow: make a cup of tea, get comfortable, switch off your phone and be drawn into the little worlds of this book to emerge content and refreshed by the work of a master author.

— Grant P. Hudson, 2020

You can get a paperback or Kindle version here.


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