Fiction Sneak Peek, September 10, 2016 issue

An example of how story inspiration works.

I’ve chosen quite a low-key illustration to introduce the sneak peek this week, but I’ve selected it because it shows how story inspiration works. Let me explain….

It goes with a beautiful story by Jean Cullop, titled “Taking Root”, about the seeds of ideas and receptive ground. Jean actually wrote this story in response to one of the Story Starter photographs I post on my blog from time to time as story inspiration, which for me is particularly rewarding. That those images can plant germs of ideas that flourish and turn into wonderful stories like this – well, it’s what I hoped for when I started it. Well done, Jean!

The issue opens with a Pamela Kavanagh classic period romance, “Meeting Mistress Tabby”. Tabby’s a spirited wench who, if he’s honest, frightens Jasper slightly. So what happens when he has to face this fearsome lioness in her den? Illustration by Mandy Dixon.

Hannah is Val Bonsall’s “One Of The Boys”, stuck in an office with five guys who talk nothing but football. So, if you can’t beat ’em….thinks Hannah. Illustrated by Jim Dewar.

Are you a go-with-the-flow kind of person, or is everything strictly scheduled? For Andrea in “Not On The Schedule” by Raine Cooke, she’s very much in the second camp. So what happens when she has to dip a toe in the first? Illustrated by Ruth Blair.

“Sunny Side Up” by Barbara Dynes is about looking on the bright side and not saying the word “rabbit”. Huh? You’ll get it once you read the story! Illustrated by Mandy Murray.

Do you remember Maxine’s Cat Café, in “The Trouble With Humans” by Suzanne Ross Jones back in Special 126 in July? We’re paying another visit in “Must Love Cats”. This time Maxine has an escapee called Gladys – who deserves the alternative names of Houdini…or Cupid!

“Being Neighbourly” by Alice Renaud is about a neighbour who doesn’t want to be friends. How do you win someone like that over? Maybe young Mairi has the key. Illustrated by Ruth Blair.

A special guest checks in this week in Kerry Mayo’s b&b saga “Be My Guest”.

It’s part 2 of Penny Alexander’s “The Flower Of Hope” as the family process the news of Matthew’s circumstances in Italy. Surely they have to help him? Illustration by Ruth Blair.

And – ta-da – it’s the final instalment of Pamela Kavanagh’s “The Watch House”, with the secrets of the house finally being revealed. Illustration by Martin Baines. We’ve particularly enjoyed this one here in the “Friend” team. I hope you have, too!

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.