Published on October 10th, 20130
Shy Feet: Short Stories Inspired by Travel by Frances M Thompson
When “perpetual traveller” Frankie, aka Frances M Thompson, discovered the joy of short stories, she was tempted to have a go herself. Now she hopes to convert others to the genre with Shy Feet, a collection of tales inspired by her own journeys.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m a freelance copywriter/researcher from London and a perpetual traveller. I’ve been “homeless” since October 2011, never staying in one place for more than a few months. I document my travels on my blog, As the Bird Flies.
Tell us about your book. Describe some of the stories…
Shy Feet is precisely what the subtitle says; a collection of short stories inspired by travel, or more specifically and honestly, my travels. From childhood holidays on campsites in France (as told through the pernickety Max in Max’s Holiday) to a life-changing journey to Naples, Italy (as experienced somewhat differently in See the Amalfi Coast) the places I’ve written about in Shy Feet are countries and cities that have stayed with me long after I’ve left. However, the stories are completely fictional, which is perhaps obvious considering the characters in Shy Feet are all very different; old and young, brave yet fearful, wise but weird and they also come from all corners of the globe. That said, some of the experiences are biographical, for example, I did actually get lost in Gatwick Airport when I was younger (as sort of retold in The Lost Children of Gatwick Airport) and I have wandered up the hill of Parc Montjuic in Barcelona just as the sun was rising… though sadly not with a mysterious, good-looking German holding my hand; you’ll have to read The Flowers Sleep Tonight to find out what that’s all about!
Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
As I said, places I’ve travelled to are the main source of inspiration, but ideas also came from people I’ve met. I went to University in Yorkshire and I have a real soft spot for people from that county so it felt very natural to make Martin – my protagonist in the bittersweet See the Amalfi Coast – a true Yorkshireman, faults, warts and all! I also have to thank my good friend Gilli who I stayed with on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia as it was an experience she relayed to me – about finding a wallaby that had been hit by a car – that inspired The Road is Long. And I got the idea of a woman’s life being told through her travel journal – as in All the Beaches are Made of Pebbles – based the travel blogging community that I’m part of; I often wonder how we’ll all look back on our blogs and if we’ll be thankful for the online diaries of everywhere we’ve been; I hope so!
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I am petrified of rejection. There you go, that’s the honest answer! I daren’t risk the humiliation of it so I haven’t (yet!) reached out to a single literary agent. It also made sense to self-publish in some ways. By all accounts from what I’ve read and learned studying the industry over the last two years, short story collections are notoriously hard to pitch to agents or publishers – especially by a debut author – so I knew I was up against it. Furthermore, I already had a small following from my blog and I was keen to sell direct to them. I was also very attracted by the creative control self-publishers maintain and by the fact self-published books don’t have a shelf-life. It makes me very sad that traditionally published books have such short lives comparatively. Books should live forever and ever!
Imagine your ideal reader: which authors do they enjoy?
If you like Alice Munro, Aimee Bender or Nikki Gemmell, you will enjoy Shy Feet. I’d class the genre it falls under as “contemporary, quirky fiction” and my tag line is that I write “Stories that move you…”. None of this is very catchy but hopefully conveys that the stories will feel real and will make you smile, laugh, think and maybe cry a little – sorry! I’d also urge anyone who has never read or been interested by short stories before to give it a go. I’m only a recent convert to short stories myself and have gained so much as a reader from this genre – they’re perfect for commuting or stop-start journeys and are really effective at delivering a message – I really want to do my bit to attract new readers to short stories.
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