Let’s begin the day with an Orenda Books review! And not any review. Today I’m finally publishing my thoughts about the CWA anthology of short stories. Personal reasons prevented me from posting on time, I apologize to the lovely Karen Sullivan and to the patient Anne Cater for this! This post in my thank you for including me in the tour!
Title: CWA Anthology of Short Stories
Edited by: Martin Edwards
Publisher: Orenda Books
Date of publication: November 2017
Number of pages: 306
This exciting collection of short stories features crime writers working with a “mystery tour” or travel theme. Ann Cleeves on Tanzania, Vas Khan on Mumbai, and Marnie Riches on Holland. Other writers include Sarah Hilary, Alex Marwood, Cally Taylor, Elly Griffiths, Steph Broadribb, Johana Gustawsson, Liz Nugent, Steve Cavanagh, Cal Moriarty, Paul Hardisty, Mason Cross, Sharon Bolton, Vas Khan, Marnie Riches, Bill Ryan, Ian Rankin, Peter James, Kate Rhodes, Ragnar Jonasson, and Ann Cleeves.
Those words used to scare me. I believed stories needed layers and time to settle in a reader’s mind and work their magic. Doesn’t a setting require time to take form in the imagination, and doesn’t a character grow into a fully-fleshed multi-dimensional person only in more than three pages?
I was stuck on the length.
I changed my mind.
In the hands of capable writers, the number of pages has nothing to do with your enjoyment of a story. I opened this anthology without looking at the names included in. I wanted surprises. I wanted to be proved wrong without biases.
We authors don’t have groupies the way rock musicians are rumored to.
As I turned the pages, I travelled, like a companion in the Tardis jumping from one time and one place to another. It felt new, it felt fresh and it aroused my curiosity at every stop. All those different tales brought together remind us of the power of words instead of the importance of length. Why run a crappy marathon when you can win a beautiful short race? I am not saying the authors who took part are in no way able to transport us with amazing novels (some already did it with me!) but now I understand it takes more than pages to make a book. Naive, maybe, but until now, I couldn’t think of short stories which had kept me hooked and turning pages faster than my fingers could handle.
But real life is not like a story.
Every title was a promise. I did recognize some authors and I will admit I put more pressure on their stories than for those whose authors I did not know. No one let me down. Everyone convinced me. Characters, atmospheres, they were all created so beautifully they did not need a hundred pages. I had enough information to appreciate the work. The play on formats, the ending twists, the surprising elements, all of them were delivered in a strong way, leaving me begging for more. I loved the diversity of stories, it fed my need for originality and gave me enough to wonder what those authors can’t do!!!
Trust a crime writer to commit a perfect crime.
Crime fiction is my favorite genre, but it comes with a list of demands to make a story work. I truly believe this is one of the hardest genres to pack into short stories. Every word count, every detail is scrutinized and chosen with the finest taste, every drop of blood measured. This anthology reveals the best of crime fiction is its shortest but most powerful form.
I applaud all the writers and will now include their names here because without their words, I wouldn’t have changed my mind on short stories!
Thanks to all those amazing authors for their fantastic work!