Today I am excited to be sharing my review of Backstories by Simon Van der Velde with you all.
Author: Simon Van der Velde
Release Date: 24th March 2020
Publisher: Smoke and Mirrors Press
Page Count: 116
Buy It Here (affiliate links): Amazon UK
Dreamers, singers, talkers and killers; they can dazzle with their beauty or their talent or their unmitigated evil, but inside themselves they are as frail and desperate as the rest of us. But can you see them? Can you unravel the truth?
These are people you know, but not as you know them.
Peel back the mask and see.
Backstories is a unique collection of stories each told from the point of view of a famous, (or notorious) person at a pivotal moment in their lives. The writing is literary but accessible and the voices vividly real. The settings are mostly 60’s and 70’s UK and USA, and the driving themes are inclusion, social justice and of course, nostalgia – but the real key to these stories is that the protagonists’ identities are withheld. This means that your job is to find them, leading to that Eureka moment when you realise who’s mind you’ve been inhabiting for the last twenty minutes.
Backstories is completely original, clever, and unexpected. The way that history and fiction have been entwined is so well written that you almost believe that these stories are real, and not an imagined backstory. Simon Van der Velde clearly did a lot of research on the famous figures he has used to create this book, and it definitely paid off.
The author obviously wants to get the reader involved in the story, and has done this in a very interesting way. I loved trying to figure out who each story was before the big reveal at the end. Some of them I did guess, but others I was completely stumped by, and some were people that I certainly wasn’t expecting.
I’m not usually that in to short stories but the concept of these immediately intrigued me, and once I began reading, they hooked me in. This was such an interesting little read, that surprised me in ways I didn’t expect, and I would love to read more of these little stories.
I give Backstories a 5 star rating!
A huge thank you to Simon Van der Velde for my copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review.
About The Author:
Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, labourer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as travelling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters and insights for his award-winning stories.
Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, labourer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as travelling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters and insights 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 Short- story Prize, The Harry Bowling Prize, The Henshaw Press Short Story Competition and The National Association of Writers’ Groups Open Competition – establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost short-story writers.
Simon now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, with his wife, Nicola, their labradoodle, Barney and two tyrannical children.
“Whatever happened to, all of the heroes” The Stranglers 1977
I was twelve years old when I first heard this song and although there was something in the feral tone that grabbed me, I didn’t really understand it. I do now. I get the angst and the loss and the emptiness, which why, in Backstories, I aim to answer the question.
So join me on my quest, and together we’ll uncover the fears and passions and prejudices that made our heroes what they were, and perhaps catch a glimpse of ourselves along the way.
Whatever happened to all of the heroes?
They turned out to be human beings, in all their diverse glory.
Simon Van der Velde January, 2021
ps. I am proud to be sharing 30% of all profits from Backstories with Friends of the Earth, Stop Hate UK and The North-East Autism Society. See http://www.simonvandervelde.com for further details.
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