With writing being a solitary business, it’s always a pleasure to be in the company of other writers for lunches, retreats and more. Yet one remarkable “meeting place” is almost invisible because it happens between the pages of an anthology.
Most of the anthology collections I’ve been involved with have been for youngish children, so the stories are sweet, despite the necessary brief but “moderate peril”. I enjoy writing a tale that an adult will share with a child or two on a lazy day, or making a comforting story for a child to read alone.
Sometimes I imagine the anthology as a small wrapped gift, a quiet thing hidden among the louder, larger presents, ready to be enjoyed by the readers when the moment is right.
Other writers contribute to anthologies of horror, or wacky humour or even gross-out-boy stories. Not me, not so far, although if asked, I’d always try. My author briefs evolve into furry or feathery creatures and maybe a child or two, with happiness at the end. I am an invisible writer. Aimed at the seasonal market, all the readers remember about the look of the book is the heart-warming picture on the cover. Just as heart-warming is the knowledge that – somewhere – another half-dozen or so unseen writers are working away their own versions. I won’t know who they are.
(However, I do know that, like me, they accept the fact that anthology fees are rather small, and they enjoy writing something more than nothing. And, also, that any editor, no matter how kindly analytic is likely to move on once the anthology iss done, leaving one feeling slightly adrift. Will anyone remember me for next time? Will the next brief get stuck somewhere, as it has done? And so on.)
Only when I get my own copy of those anthologies do I learn who the other story writers are, and see familiar names in the company. I do recommend this gentle word- partying within the pages.
However – and this is a loud “however”, with the sound of trumpets – there’s an anthology coming out in March and this time I do know the people involved. As the collection is for older readers too, I was able to step outside of my “sweet story” corner and reveal a few more story muscles as well.
What is this trumpeted anthology? DAUGHTERS OF TIME.
Some History Girls bloggers have been working on this collection for the last year. We’ve had big and small meetings. We’ve maundered over works-in-progress and muttered secretly ogether about deadlines – “Have you finished yet? Well, almost, but. . .” along with darker worries and collisions. In the end all went well.
We all know our Editor in person this time too: Mary Hoffman herself guided the project valiantly along. As well as being an astounding author, Mary was the originator of our blog home - the History Girls - and is a Book Maven in deed as well as name.
Now, with March beginning tomorrow, I’m waiting for the large package. (Soon, please?) Because all of us History Girls will be meeting on those pages. True, there have even been DAUGHTERS OF TIME events. This week some “Daughters” met at Aphra Benn’s tomb in Westminster Abbey to place a bouquet. Other “Daughters” will be at the Oxford Literature Festival at the end of March. It’s a very good anthology to celebrate.
However, there’s still that itch of mystery. I do know all the authors already. I even know the subject of most of the stories.
As a taster, there’s BOUDICA by Katherine Roberts, AETHELFED by Sue Purkiss, ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE by Adele Geras, JULIAN OF NORWICH BY Kath Langrish, LADY JANE GREY by Mary Hoffman, ELIZABETH STUART by Diane Hofmeyr, APHRA BEHN by Marie-Louise Jensen, MARY ANNING by Joan Lennon. MARY SEACOLE by Catherine Johnson. EMILY DAVISON by Celia Rees. AMY KOHNSON by Anne Rooney, and the GREENHAM WOMEN by Leslie Wilson. (Me, I'm MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT.)
So what I haven’t done yet is the best, the important, the most interesting bit. I haven’t yet read the collection. I don’t how the stories are told, or how these fictional moments have been imagined, or how these writers have written finally their stories. That's all to come.
So the author party I am looking forward to right now is reading everyone’s stories! That’s the best meeting, the best celebration for all anthologies, especially for welcoming the DAUGHTERS OF TIME.
DAUGHTERS OF TIME is published by Templar. March 2014