When Simon Van Der Velde contacted me and asked me if I’d read and review this collection of short stories, I was delighted to oblige; with my brain on a meltdown, I was having difficulty in focusing on my reading and in danger of losing my mojo. This short collection seemed like the perfect anecdote! I was not mistaken!
I’m delighted to be reviewing this on publication day, I hope it flies Simon!
Before I share my thoughts; here’s what the official blurb says:
CAN YOU FIND THE FAMOUS PERSON HIDDEN IN EVERY STORY?
Dreamers, singers, heroes and killers, they can dazzle with their beauty or their talent or their unmitigated evil, yet inside themselves, they are as frail and desperate as the rest of us. But can you see them? Can you unravel the truth?
Before I start this review, I’ll ‘fess up; I’m the kind of person nobody wants on their quiz team, I never know the answers and if I do dare to play my answers are usually the sort that reduce my team mates to hysterics! So when SVD asked me to review this collection of short stories, the back stories of some of the most famous characters, I felt anxious already! Would he want to know how quickly I’d guessed who was who? Would he laugh as my answers (wrong of course!) sneaked out my mouth?
Of course he didn’t, it’s not a game, nor is it a test but rather what it is, is a collection of cleverly crafted tales, each of them taking you inside the hearts and minds of people you know. They invoke smiles, laughter, tears and rage and they manage to do that in just a few short pages. That is a skill in itself to convey someone’s life in so few words.
By the end of the first one I was hooked, and I’m not telling you who I initially thought was behind The Guitar.
Every story features a character who is well known; they may be a hero or they may be a villain. The author has taken the character and created a back story for each of them. Some of their stories will offer you an understanding of the “why” and some of them will provide further insight into just how evil some people are.
The clues to each identity are subtly woven into the story and once I found out who some of them were I went back and re-read the story from a completely different angle. Fascinating and immersive read!
Perfect for dipping in and out of if your concentration is all over the place at the moment and equally as perfect for devouring in one sitting. Do yourself a favour and go buy this now!
Backstories is available to purchase via
This book is dedicated to the victims of violent crime, the struggle against discrimination in all its forms and making the world a better place for our children. That is why 30% of all profits will be shared between Stop Hate UK, The North East Autism Society and Friends of the Earth.
Backstories is published by Smoke & Mirrors Press.
About the author
Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, laborer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as traveling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters for his award-winning stories. Since completing a creative writing M.A. (with distinction) in 2010, Simon’s work has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards including; The Yeovil Literary Prize, (twice), The Wasafiri New Writing Prize, The Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Frome Prize, and The Harry Bowling Prize – establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost short-story writers.
Simon now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, with his wife, labradoodle and two tyrannical children.