Today I’m very excited to introduce you to one of my most lovely of friends – Nicola Hulks!
So the reason Laura Anne has asked me to come along is to talk about my new short story collection, Stars in Unexpected Places. This was released a couple of weeks ago now and is being sold in aid of the aid and development charity Tearfund in Paperback and E-book format. The stories in the collection are really just about people’s lives, little snapshots that tell bigger tales. Some are old stories, familiar stories from the bible but rewritten from a different perspective. Some are about romance, holding hands in the rain. Some are about freedom, quitting a job you can’t stand and battling with yourself when you think better of it. Some are funny. Some are sad. A bit like life really! And that’s the thing with short stories and is the reason why I wrote them and why I write anything at all. They can capture so much in so few words. Through simple things that life is made up of, a picture, a conversation, they say something bigger than just the moment told.
I started writing more seriously when I went to Zambia with Tearfund to visit some of the partners working on the ground for the organisation. Partners are local people who see a need in their community and work tirelessly to see it met. This means that money raised by Tearfund goes direct to the people who need it most and is administered by people who live in the community and know it best. It was in Zambia that I realised how much meaning can be in those little moments. I travelled around Zambia meeting people who had benefited from the support of the charity and the things that I saw really stayed with me. One day we were driving through a desperately poor area, our tyres bouncing in and out of the potholes, when I saw a sign sprayed in thick black paint on the wall of a market stall saying ‘God Knows’. This spoke more to me than hours of conversations about economics and the route out of poverty because yes, he does know and I think it quite breaks his heart.
Some of my experiences in Zambia feature in Stars in Unexpected Places and these stories are ultimately about hope because that’s how I left, feeling hopeful. And I feel hopeful now, that this little collection of stories might do a bit more of the wonderful work I saw started. You can have a read of some sample stories on my website and I’m currently doing a blog tour of the book, telling the stories behind the stories and giving a sneak peak of what you can expect from it. I hope you like it.
For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of being in Nicola’s company, you are indeed missing out – but you can catch Nicola over on her website www.nicolahulks.co.uk and on twitter @nicolahulks.