dog-daysQ: Our relationships with dogs and the height of midsummer do seem strange bedfellows for a themed collection of stories, though no lesser folk than Noel Coward and Joe Cocker linked them together – two further strange bedfellows. What was it about the stories you selected that caught your eye and was it hard to find the line that connects the collection together?

A: Mmmm, possibly strange bedfellows, but perhaps that’s what makes it interesting. The opportunity to interpret the brief in as many ways as possible meant that I didn’t have to read too many stories that overlapped in their theme. If the collection had just been entitled Dogs, it would have elicited a very different response. I liked the fact that there were at least two very different ways of approaching the theme.

The stories that were finally selected definitely explored the theme in the most creative ways. I was looking for innovative interpretations and those that were slightly left field. I particularly like ‘The Devil’s Music’ by Jane Rusbridge who had taken the original idea and run with it in an unexpected way. It was hard to find the line that connects the stories together, but in the end it was something about shifts in tone and pace that made for an interesting collection.

Q: In your introduction in the book, you speak with some passion about the short story. Is this a form that holds particular interest to you?

A: There is a commonly held misconception that the short story is the poor relation of the novel. Short story writing is viewed as a training ground for would be writers before they get down to the proper business of writing a novel. I think this is wrong and we should look at short stories as a complete art form in themselves. My feeling is that short stories use a small amount of space to convey big ideas. They lend themselves to tight, concise writing which is difficult to achieve. I love short stories and their ability to transport you to another place and transform your thinking in the time it takes to flick through a magazine.

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