Johanna Skibsrud

Johanna Skibsrud photographed by Dan Davis
Johanna Skibsrud photographed by Dan Davis

Johanna Skibsrud authored ‘The Opening’.

Canadian Johanna Skibsrud’s first novel The Sentimentalists won the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada’s most prestigious literary award. She is also the author of a collection of short stories and two collections of poetry. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Author Q& A

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this story?

It’s based on a dream that my husband had. Now that I’ve written the story, neither of us can remember what he dreamed and what I imagined.

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Bluebirds by Jamie Ryder

BluebirdsWhen John Harris saw the swastika, his hand clenched until the knuckles turned white. He imagined some jumped-up little gobshite coming here in the dead of night, giggling while he drew this monstrosity. The sheer disrespect made his teeth grate. Salford Lads Club used to be a place of hope. Windows were now cracked or faded and the brick work was rotting. The painted roses that once hung proudly above the door were chipped away. The Dangerous Building sign completed a tarnished picture of childhood memories. A place of gymnasiums in the evening and choirs in the morning. Knitted scarves and free meals at Christmas. Eighty years of breaking his back and he’d returned to a miscreant paradise. John gripped the railings, took a breath and turned away.

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Jamie Ryder

Jamie Ryder
Jamie Ryder

Jamie Ryder is the author of Bluebirds.

Bio

I’m an aspiring writer and journalist from Manchester England. I’ve recently graduated with a 2:1 Creative Writing degree at Edge Hill University. I’ve written for several online magazines such as theinflectionist.com, apy2hyc.com, thepositive.com and mediaprint.com. I’m currently working on my first novel while studying for my MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Author Q & A

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this story?

The inspiration for Bluebirds came from memories from my granddad who fought at Anzio. I wanted to create an authentic WW2 background  for the protagonist John. So I asked him about his experiences and worked some of them in through flashbacks.

I wanted to create a love story that isn’t conventional in the sense that it has an open and shut ending. I wanted to provide a sense of hope but leave the reader to draw their own conclusion by the end of it.

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Dark Disneyland By Patrick Sagaram

Dark DisneylandIT WAS ONE OF THOSE EXTRAORDINARY AND INFREQUENT MOMENTS when their dreams however hazy and misshapen did attain perfection. Most of the time, they were a series of narratives of pure imagery, flowing like quicksilver, defining their experiences with such lucidity that when they awoke, it often amazed them what the eye of their minds can achieve.

          They are creatures of imagination and artistry during nocturnal hours, leaving them hollow and empty during the day.

They usually rise from their concrete panopticons from uneasy dreams and begin their daily transformation; individuals bent on consumption who unbeknownst to them are the means of production, mere vassals that power this dreamlike world, this dark disneyland.

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Patrick Sagaram

Patrick Sagaram
Patrick Sagaram

Patrick Sagaram is the author of Dark Disneyland. Patrick lives in Singapore and works as a Teacher.

Author Q & A

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this story?

It’s a meditation on the life and what it means to live in my city. It’s also about the obsession with wealth, career, indulgences and possessions. How a city has become a playground for the self-serving affluent class and a waypoint for sojourners.

When did you start writing?

Probably in my mid-thirties. I wrote for the sheer enjoyment that writing brings.

Do you have a favourite genre?

Realism, magic realism, surrealism

What’s your favourite book or short story?

Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

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Clay by Lauren Bell

clayI know I shouldn’t stare but I just can’t help myself. It’s like when someone tells you not to turn around because something bad will happen to you if you do, and even though you might lose an eye or several teeth, you can’t help but to turn around and look. It’s human nature.

Except this girl doesn’t look fully human to me.

I see her every morning on the train into town with her hair in a sleek midnight bob which effortlessly frames her face. She reminds me of a china doll with her small hand-crafted features making my heart giddy. She doesn’t look at me even though I know she can see me from out the corner of her eye. I’m just another suit-wearing guy with far too much deodorant choking the air.

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Lauren Bell

Lauren Bell
Lauren Bell

Lauren Bell is the author of flash fiction piece ‘Clay’.

Lauren lives in Birmingham, is often drunk on inspiration and will attempt to start work on a novel soon. Her work has been published by Word Bohemia, Synaesthesia Magazine, Bare Fiction, The Casket of Fictional Delights and Storgy Magazine where she is a contributing writer.

Short Story Sunday Q & A with Lauren Bell

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this story?

As a writer you are constantly attuned to your environment, looking for things which stand out, meaning you take in pretty much everything including the people, the land, the transport, the sky etc. Clay came to me when I was on the train on my way to work and saw this young woman’s profile silhouetted against the slate grey backdrop of Birmingham. Her features were small and sharp, perfect points, as though someone had created them using clay. That’s when I thought: Hey, maybe I could write a piece about a person whose features are made from clay.

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The True Color of The Sky By Chrysler Szarlan

true color of the skyWhen I was thirteen, I made a dress. I have no idea what possessed me. The dress was denim, sack-like, too big for me. It had a ruffle at the bottom, swooping just below my knees. It was the 1970’s and such things were in fashion. The bleached and faded fabric pleased me. It reminded me of sky. I watched the clouds pass in that sky as I pushed the fabric at the machine I was afraid of, all the time trying not to think of the speeding, piercing needle. As I stitched seams, I saw dragons and warriors with drawn swords in the fabric, a dog barking, the Virgin Mary. She was at the back of my dress, just below my right shoulder. But by the time I noticed her, she was upside down. I hoped she didn’t mind so much. She didn’t seem to, I imagined she looked serene. Just to be on the safe side, every time I wore the dress, just before I pulled it over my head I said a little prayer. Not an entire Hail Mary, but something like, “Dear Mary, I’m sorry you’re upside down, but maybe you will bless me anyway.”

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Chrysler Szarlan

Chrysler Szarlan
Chrysler Szarlan

Chrysler Szarlan is the author of short story ‘The True Color of The Sky’.

Chrysler is a published author who jogged racehorses and worked as a magician’s assistant before graduating from law school. She was a managing attorney with the Connecticut Legal Rights Project. She lives in western Massachusetts with her family, works part-time as a bookseller at the Odyssey Bookshop and rides her horse in the Hawley Forest whenever possible.

Short Story Sunday Q & A with Chrysler Szarlan

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this story?
I was with a friend who sewed (I do not!), and we were looking at fabric. She bought a piece of stone-washed denim – this was in the 80’s – and I saw all kinds of images in it, including the Virgin Mary. I guess that stayed with me, and it came to me as the beginning of this story, many years later. And I have always been fascinated by memory, the persistence of some memories, the loss of others. What it would be like to know you are slowly going to lose your memories, and what would seem important then.

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