Saturday, 1 March 2014


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.

Penny Dolan

DAUGHTERS OF TIME is published by Templar. March 2014


Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Penny you've written about this so deliciously that I'm longing to read them all now. And yes its been a good experience and thank you to everyone... its been 'work' but really fun to work in such great company!

Sue Purkiss said...

Love the idea of an anthology being a gathering of writers - and that's certainly how this one has been!

Katherine Langrish said...

It has indeed been great fun, and I'm looking forward not only to the pleasure of reading good stories by fabulous authors (like yourself, Penny!) but also to learning a lot more about some very interesting women in English history!

Joan Lennon said...

My copies have just arrived, and it's lovely to think of all of the other writers now sitting on the kitchen table ... well, you know what I mean!

adele said...

I too can't wait to read all the other stories. Everything involved with this anthology has been such fun!

Savita Kalhan said...

I'm going to order a copy so I can enjoy all these wonderful writers sitting on my kitchen table too! It sounds like it was great fun putting this anthology together and I'm looking forward to reading it. Well done!

Ann Turnbull said...

I'm really looking forward to reading all these stories.

Jackie Marchant said...

This looks so good - I'm going to be buying a copy! But I can't quite get over the fact that the Greenham Women are 'historical'

Penny Dolan said...

Aaaagh! Postman has left a card on the mat, stating the parcel (or THE parcel, from my pov) could not be delivered, even though I was here!

Hint to Royal Mail. If the knocker doesn't work, why not try the doorbell! I only have to wait another 48 hours to claim the books.

(To be fair, we were given a chance to read through all the stories at an early & unedited stage, but I felt it was too much like visiting someone at a time when they were not quite ready or at their best, as the stories will be now.)

ps Thanks for all your kind words, everyone.

Mary Hoffman said...

It's bit like childbirth - you forget the painful bits when you get to hold your baby! And this was a whole bunch of babies, decorated in gorgeous green foil.

A multiple birth to celebrate with all the other "mothers."

May the postie visit you all very soon.

John Dougherty said...

It sounds great - not just the book, but the process of putting it together! Maybe we should do an ABBA anthology....?

Emma Barnes said...

Definitely looking forward to reading this!

Stroppy Author said...

Mine are here! Can't wait to read everyone's stories :-)

Paeony Lewis said...

I wonder if I'll be thinking of everyone I know when I read the stories, or I'll be so sucked in I'll forget. Will knowing so many of you influence how I read it? I'll know soon!