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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

When Planets Slip Their Tracks

The cover of my first short story collection. Huge thanks to Ink Tears Press for all their hard work and skill.

Like many short story writers, I always hoped I might be asked to gather a collection for publication one day. Three years ago, that wish came true. 

After entering an Ink Tears competition in which one of my stories was highly commended, they approached me about the possibility of publishing a book. They have produced three stunning hardback collections so far and this autumn, mine will be one of the next to follow. 

When Planets Slip Their Tracks includes stories that have won prizes or commendations in competitions. Several have appeared in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. They are often disturbing and startling, but also sometimes funny, as Jilly Cooper states on the cover. 

The binding theme is how people's lives teeter on the brink. Since we are all finely-tuned, precariously balanced waifs, an unforeseen wind or turn of the tide can cause us to waver off-course. The stories show how ordinary people cope when that happens. Sometimes life presents them with a dilemma and sometimes a fluctuation within their own minds makes them falter.

Although the man in the cover picture battles against driving rain, he also appears to be enclosed by it; separated from - and protected by - the more savage turbulence life brings. The rain could be a torment or a haven. Perhaps both. 

For all the characters in the stories, life deals blows that can conceal blessings, and blessings that sometimes turn into blows.

For those who may not have seen me talking about short stories and how I write, this is the video of the interview I did with Ink Tears while we were busy with the edits. 

Almost all the revisions are now finished and I am looking forward to the book's release later in the year. Thank you to Anthony and Sara-Mae at Ink Tears for giving me the opportunity to hold Planets in my hands.


  1. Super interview, Joanne. I'm sure I will want to watch it several times more, as you pack in so much insight about writing - your own and other people's. Also I was impressed by the exemplary behaviour of your horse and cat. I could never let Harvey get into a video. He'd have to be the star!

    1. Thank you very much, Joanne. I'm really pleased you enjoyed it. It was lots of fun to make and I had such a fantastic day talking away non-stop - I couldn't stop once I'd started! It made a total change from being a hermit and Sara-Mae, who interviewed me, was so good at asking the questions and so interested in the answers that I felt totally at ease.
      I think pony Woolley was keen to guest-star. It was a shame we didn't see Candy, the mini Shetland. She would have stolen the show. Holly, our youngest cat, is very chubby and laid-back. She only gets up to move a few feet and have a bite to eat. Exhausted by such exertion, she flops back down again for a few more hours. Like our others, she was a rescue cat. Someone put her outside on a freezing winter's night when she was only five weeks old, bless her. I'm so glad we could take her in.
      I'm thrilled the gorgeous Harvey is still going strong. I would love to see him in a video! xxx

  2. Sorry, I meant Joanna, with an A! My fingers seem programmed to type it with an E!

    1. Don't worry - I always do the same - only the other way round! Without fail, I always have to correct the a to an e if I spot it in time. xxxl

  3. Brilliant Joanna! Your collection of stories looks great and I really loved watching this video. So much insight into your writing process and you have a wonderful speaking voice - I can imagine you must read out your work very well! I particularly liked what you said about letting your characters lead the story and you don't always know that ending until they tell you - this is what I find in my own writing and I think you have just revealed to me why I am stalling so much with my 2nd book as I'm trying to figure out the ending before my characters are ready to reveal it!! x

  4. Thank you for your comment and your kind words, Vikki, which I appreciate so much. I'm thrilled if any of it has been helpful! In fact, it has helped me too.
    In my second novel, I began to wade a little yesterday - and I realise now that it's because I might be trying to take a step ahead of the characters. So this is is a good time to heed my own advice.
    It's easier with short stories somehow, because with novels, the authorly responsibility for so many characters makes it tempting to keep lassoing them and dragging them where you think they should go in order to retain control. To offset that temptation, I tend to work only on isolated scenes I desperately want to write for the characterisation, rarely in correct chronological order, so that I'm not able to take them in any direction pre-prescribed by me! These scenes are leading me to the ending, I'm sure, but I don't know when that will happen. So in this second novel, which I have been working on for two years, I still have no idea how it will end, but I do know that this is a good thing! No lasso required!

    I'm truly grateful for your lovely response to the video, Vikki. Thank you for letting me know - it's made my day! xxx

  5. I am thrilled to know your collection will soon be available for us all to read, Joanna. This is a fascinating post and the video is so informative and beautifully edited and produced. Well done to you and the Ink Tears team. The film captivates you perfectly as a professional and I love the way you always refer to and include your readers within the writing process. I have noted over the years that some writers tend to forget to reflect on their readers, which I feel is an invaluable and crucial element of the writing process. I wish you much success with the new collection. Have a lovely week.

  6. What a wonderful video, Joanna, and it's great to hear your beautiful voice and catch glimpses of your animals and writing space. But most of all, I love your wise insight into your writing and characters. I'm so looking forward to your collection - brilliant title and cover!

    1. Thank you so very much, Rosemary. It really is fantastic to know that you enjoyed it. I had imagined my mind going blank and the video constantly having to be restarted while I pulled myself together. But as soon as I opened my mouth to answer the questions, I couldn't stop talking. I was probably still talking even after the camera was put away! I guess it's because I love writing so much that it's become a favourite topic, one that inspires answers as soon as I'm asked about it.
      I do hope you enjoy the collection. It's quite a mix of stories that date back several years and it took ages to decide which ones to include. I left out so many I might have a volume two in the pipeline already!
      Many thanks, Rosemary, for your lovely comment. xxx