Fiction Sneak Peek, September 24, 2016 Issue

First illustration in our short story selection.

I’m starting with the opening illustration in this week’s short story selection because it’s kind of moody and haunting and suits its story brilliantly.

The story is “Music In The Air” by Susan Claremont, her first for us. Welcome to “The People’s Friend”, Susan! We hope this is just the first of many. And the story? Pippa and family move into a new home, and are puzzled by two boarded-up cupboards.

But to go back to the illustration, if you can, enlarge it. It becomes soooo beautiful: the textures, the delicate brush strokes…. Gorgeous.

Next in our short story selection is “Let’s Celebrate!” by Teresa Ashby, about a surprise birthday party for Grampa. All they need now is the man himself. What could possibly go wrong…?

I love our third story, by Donald Lightwood. Set in a fishing community on the east coast of Scotland, “A Cottage By The Sea” is about superstition and the effects it can have. Illustrated by Jim Dewar.

In Kerry Mayo’s “Be My Guest”, it’s all go at breakfast time.

A Wendy Clarke story next, “The Anniversary Dinner”. Like any couple, Jerry and Eleanor have their little rituals to mark the occasion, fine until something unexpected happens. Illustrated by Jim Dewar.

I’m chuffed to announce this next story, “For Ever Friends” by Laura Ann Stevens, who submitted it after she attended our story writing workshop in Glasgow earlier this year. Well done, Laura! It’s about friendship and how it doesn’t take care of itself. Illustrated by Jim Dewar. Oh, and Laura has blogged here about how the story began at the workshop.

The story following Laura’s has a friendship theme, too, but in Alice Elliott’s “The Way We Were”, that friendship comes under the strain of sudden mistrust. I love the stylish illustration by Mandy Murray.

We never used to include stories about horoscopes, and then asked ourselves, why not? So here’s a fun one from Pauline Bradbury. “Written in the Stars” features schoolteacher  Miss Reeves, whose class might just be smarter than she is!

It’s part 2 of Anne Stenhouse’s “A Traveller’s Life, her short-listed story in our serial writing competition. This week, Joan’s family are reunited. It’s illustrated by Kirk Houston, while Ruth Blair is illustrating Penny Alexander’s story “The Flower Of Hope” beautifully. This week, Jane and Caroline’s plan to recover the precious flower seeds is coming together.

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.