My Canadian publisher and I are working on putting together a book of Collected Stories for publication in the autumn. We’ll pull together stories from my two previous collections, Tiny Lies and My Life as a Girl in a Men’s Prison, along with the dozen or so stories I’ve written over the last decade. We’re looking at trying to innovate around publishing this book, by releasing single stories electronicallly, releasing audio versions of some stories, and enhanced versions of others, as well as producing the book in both print and e-book editions.
It’s an odd experience, returning to my two previous collections, which were published in 1988 and 1997. Re-reading Tiny Lies is especially disconcerting. I have not read most of these stories for more than twenty years, and reading them now is like travelling in a time machine back to the 1980s. The stories are both more and less autobiographical than I recall, and they’re full of politics, sex, and swearing (three Great Themes, of course, if you can call the splendid use of the f-word a theme). The story ‘Tiny Lies’ itself is about abortion, something I’d completely forgotten I’d written about.
Of course, it might be a massive indulgence to be republishing these old stories now; and the very idea of a book of ‘collected stories’ is probably seriously dodgy - only ‘venerable’ writers do collected stories. But the thing I like best about these stories, both the old and the new, is that they’re often funny - I seem able to strike out for comedy in the short story, something I find far harder to do within the confines of a novel. Short stories allow for a kind of freedom and playfulness, and I hope that’s what readers will find with this book.