New, free short story

Update: this story is no longer available online. If you’re interested, please email me and I’ll send it to you.

Shipping Forecast

I just had a new short story published on Solqu Shorts. It’s called Nights on Fair Isle, and tells the story of a young woman who’s just moved to London but still longs for home. She listens to the shipping forecast on the radio each night and thinks of her family, her past, and the stories her mother used to tell her of the sea.

It’s the first time I’ve had a story available free on the internet – all the others in the past have been in books and magazines. I’m dubious about the value of reading stories online – even more so having just read The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, in which he lays out just how different our reading habits are on the internet, and just how difficult it is to focus in the same way we do when reading a book. Personally I can never concentrate on a piece of fiction online, even a relatively short one. But for those of you who are up to the task, feel free to check it out, and I’d love to hear what you think – there’s a comment form at the bottom, and a voting bar at the side.

Thanks to Sian Kellaway for the great cover art.

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There are 17 comments

  1. Hey Andrew I enjoyed the story. I agree with you about concentration level online. I’d say that the value of online publishing would depend mostly on the reader and their personal comfort level. I’m sure there are some out there who do most of their reading on one screen or another. I’d say don’t abandon the idea because you’d be leaving out what I can only assume is a growing medium.

    I want to say a little more about my own experience with the online read… 1. when I clicked on the link I couldn’t help but scroll through the page and I read the comments first.. a small spoiler peaked my interest… so then I read the story. 2. The second paragraph was difficult because there’s a youtube video that the text bleeds into on my browser so I almost gave up and printed it out. 3. The fact that I was online and that the story refers to the shipping forecast and the idea of prayer I thought of England’s own Dry the River’s song New Ceremony…. I actually was tempted to stop and play the song. That’s the main distraction online everything it seems is meant to be short and digested quickly. And of course then we move on to the next thing. With an actual physical book it’s just you and the book no clicking away to another link, site, tab, window or software program. I resisted and didn’t play the song until after I finished reading…

    1. Hi Charles,

      You’re right about those distractions! There are probably people who can keep their concentration up for long enough to enjoy a whole story, but I’m not one of them – being on the web just makes me want to scroll, click, skim and move on.

      I’m confused about the youtube video – I don’t see that when I view the site, but a couple of other people have mentioned it, so I’ve passed it on to the people at Solqu. Hopefully they can fix it, because I’m sure they didn’t mean to have it covering any text.

      Hey, I didn’t know that song! I actually got distracted in the middle of a blog comment to go over to Youtube and look up the song – that’s a really short attention span I have 🙂

  2. A beautiful story. I like the fairy-tale insert and how the last line seems to echo life itself.
    My grandfather used to like to listen to shipping forecasts. I remember waking up in the early morning and see him listen to it. I didn’t know what it meant, just like the woman in the story. And her name brings back memories, too. Thank you for the story, Andrew, it made me remember.

    1. Thanks Delia! I’m glad it made you remember. I’m curious about the name bringing back memories – care to elaborate? It’s quite an unusual one so I’d be interested to hear more…

        1. That’s quite a coincidence! I have no idea where the name came from – it just popped into my head as I was writing the story and I thought it was a beautiful name. Don’t think I’d ever heard it before!

          For the story I wanted the character to have a name that sounded non-English, but didn’t communicate a particular country – I find that nationality often brings assumptions with it, and I wanted to keep them out of the reader’s mind. So Aurelia it was. Funny coincidence that it’s a relative of yours. You should give her a call 🙂

          1. Love Charles’ analysis of reading online, and agree with Delia re the story. I have written my reply, sorta, in a post-cum-review that will go live in a day or so. Meanwhile, lovely story Andrew.

          2. Thanks very much for the review! I’m glad you liked the story, and always appreciate when anyone takes the time to review my work. I didn’t comment on your post, because for some reason I’ve found that the author’s presence seems to inhibit other people from commenting! But I do appreciate it, and I liked your review. Will link to it from here.

  3. Well, I’d love to read the story, except there is a YouTube video covering half of it, which I cannot get to go away. I thought watching the ad would make the video go away, but it didn’t. I’m sad. 🙁

    1. Hi Michelle
      I’m really sorry to hear that. As I mentioned in my reply to Charles, I don’t see any videos when I view the site, but you’re the third person to mention it, so I’ve passed it on to the people at Solqu to see if they can fix the problem. In the meantime, I’ve emailed you the story 🙂

  4. First time ever reading your story.Loved the beginning paragraphs and the flow of the narrative. Looking forward to reading more stuffs from you.

    1. Thanks Geosi! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m writing a few more short stories now, so hopefully there’ll be more available online soon.

  5. Andrew, it’s beautiful. I voted excellent and totally meant it. I love how your writing is controlled and yet is sensitive to the reader’s heart. Add to that the theme of the sea, which is my weakness. The sea is in my blood as well. I spent my childhood by the sea and it holds that same magic for me as it does for Aurelia.

    I, too, have difficulty focusing online, but short stories are okay. Though I’m sure if I read your story on paper, the experience would be even richer. (I can never read a whole novel through, online or even on an ereader. I’ve rejected a number of review copies of ebooks because I know I’ll never be able to appreciate them if not on paper.)

    I’m happy to have finally read something by you that isn’t a blog post. 😀 Looking forward to more!

    1. Thank you so much Claire 🙂 That means a lot to me. Which sea were you near as a child?

      Yes, paper can’t be beaten for me. I have got an ereader now, though, and find it’s OK. Not as good as paper, but I can concentrate a hundred times better than when I’m on a normal computer screen. Because I’m moving around a lot, it’s handy. If I was in one place, with plenty of storage, then I’d stick to paper definitely. Online, I find even short stories a challenge. They have to be really short!

      1. I’ve never had an ereader and just assumed it would be the same as reading on the computer. I realise now it isn’t and I guess I’d be open to that, at least.

        It was the Pacific Sea. Great memories there. Missing it like crazy. I’m sure you’re loving it there in Barbados? Lucky!

        1. I was never keen on ereaders – only got one because of moving to Barbados and the difficulty of transporting my books here (and also of finding new books – it’s a small island with limited bookshops/libraries). In general I still favour traditional books. I’m planning a post on this in the next few weeks actually, so stay tuned…

          Barbados is wonderful. Doing lots of writing and lots of swimming/floating in the delicious Caribbean Sea. I bet you miss the Pacific! There’s just something about water, for me anyway – I grew up in London, nowhere near the sea, but could always spend hours standing on London Bridge watching the Thames flow by underneath me.

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