“Courage Runs Deep” by Natalie Kleinman is in our current Special.
Tell us about your story “Courage Runs Deep”. Where did the inspiration come from?
It seems to me that there’s an undiminished interest in stories about both World Wars and I’m no different from everyone else, but the initial idea for the story was quite innocuous. My husband grew up in Leeds and once told me that as a youngster he would escape from the city by cycling onto Ilkley Moor. A small trigger but one which, with the knowledge that the mining industry was such a huge part of life in the area, led to Jamie’s story. It’s the quiet ones, isn’t it. Those who go about their lives displaying great courage and making little of it. Add a bit of Yorkshire grit and “Courage Runs Deep” was the result.
Tell us about your writing career?
It happened completely by accident. No, it did! Truly. I was looking for something to stimulate ‘the little grey cells’ as Monsieur Poirot would have said, and effectively stuck a pin in the list of adult education courses run by my local council. I could have picked any number of things, but it was the creative writing course that pricked my interest. I was hooked from the first lesson. Although I now write novels as well, I served my apprenticeship learning how to create a rounded and satisfying story in a given number of words. It’s a very demanding discipline, as I soon discovered, but I loved it, and still do. There’s something truly rewarding about encapsulating a whole world in a couple of thousand words. I went on to write longer, contemporary, romantic fiction and from there, given my love of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, to Regency romances. Short stories and full-length novels require a completely different approach but each is immensely rewarding and I now get enormous pleasure from writing both.
Can you remember your first story that appeared in the “Friend”?
Of course I can and it’s approaching ten years since “Baubles” was published and I still remember exactly how excited I was when it was accepted. It’s a traditional Christmas story told through the eyes of the family matriarch. A much-polished and now faded silver bauble encompasses memories of her being a young war-time wife to watching her children grow and her grandchildren come along. A family story that I hope reflects the values which readers of the “Friend” have come to expect.
How has the market for women’s short stories changed over the years?
Sadly the number of magazines featuring short stories has dramatically reduced since I first began submitting. There are many talented and accomplished short story writers and of course competition is always a good thing, but the opportunities for having one’s work picked up are far fewer. While all around things are changing, the “Friend” remains a constant and reassuring companion, both to its writers and to its readers.
What advice would you give to someone starting out on their writing journey?
Know your market! Study the magazine before you submit. They’ve been at it for a long time. They know what they want and, more importantly, they know what their readers want. Remember that a first draft is just that. Work on your story until you’re sure it’s as good as you can make it. And good luck!
Thank you, Natalie!
Meet our previous Writer of the Week’s.