How do the choices we make, willingly or not, define us?
A young man working in a menial job finds a way to grow closer to a lost love. A long-married couple’s relationship is tested by the arrival of a rare bird. With the benefit of hindsight, a woman recalls a childhood episode of acute appendicitis. An outing to a plant nursery brings simmering family tensions explosively to the surface. Two walkers on a beach, unused to the suddenness of a tropical nightfall, lose their way. The chance to grow flowers in a Cornish field brings two strangers together, allowing them both a chance to heal.
The characters in these stories find themselves at crossroads: for better or for worse, their lives are about to change. In settings which range from Cornwall’s hidden valleys to the grey, gold and green of Paris in spring, from Central Otago’s alpine lakes to the Milky Way’s river of light, come bids for freedom, transformations, and another chance to get things right.
Guest Post from Emma Timpany
Today I am delighted to be hosting a guest post by Emma Timpany here on my blog just ahead of my post tomorrow on Three Roads and other stories. Ever wondered where a writer finds their story title, why they write in a particular style or where their inspiration comes from? Well today you’re in for a real treat. So, without further ado, over to Emma.
Three Roads – short stories about change, choice and life at the crossroads.
To me, short stories have always seemed to be more than the sum of their parts, and the good ones surprise by revealing layer after layer of meaning, rather like those paper flowers which expand and unfold when dropped in water. I’ve always loved the way that short stories reflect life’s complexities, and how an apparently ‘simple’ story can reflect difficulty and our varying emotional states.
I’ve been writing since I was teenager and attended my first creative writing summer school at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1991 where I was studying for a BA in anthropology. During that time, I met my English husband, with whom I’ve lived in London and Cornwall for almost thirty years. Despite living away from home for so long, most of my writing is still set in New Zealand and initially grew out of homesickness for the much-missed physical landscape I knew and loved. In normal times, I return to New Zealand regularly every two or three years, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic I haven’t been able to visit since early 2016.
The characters in Three Roads (Red Squirrel Press, April 2022) find themselves at a crossroads in their lives, and the stories explore the idea that change comes to us whether we want it to or not – it’s a fact of life. Unexpected events, such as moving to England in my early twenties, have featured large in my life, so it seemed a perfect theme to write about. My stories sometimes start with an image or a memory that comes and settles in my mind, and gradually, over the course of weeks or months, a unique shape grows around it. Even if a story originates in some small way from my own experience, it is a work of fiction. I love the way that creativity is sometimes able to transform the base materials of our lives into something other, something golden.
In other cases, little bits of knowledge which interest me have stayed with me, and years later, have woven their way into my stories. One example is the title story of the collection, ‘Three Roads’, which looks at the mythology surrounding the Roman goddess of the crossroads, Trivia, whose name translated literally means ‘the place where three roads meet’. In Roman times, all children wore an amulet around their necks to protect them from harm, and, upon reaching adolescence, girls dedicated their amulets to Trivia and boys to Mercury at altars on the crossroads. I was fascinated by how the meaning of the word Trivia had changed over time to mean a gutter or common place and then, after further changes, eventually come to mean something of little importance.
My desire to write came out of a lifelong love of reading. Reading and writing fiction enables us to ‘become’ other characters and ‘live’ stories other than our own. Every life is unique; we have many differences but, as humans, we are also the same in many ways. Writing is one way of giving voice to complex experience, of making us feel recognised and that we aren’t alone in our thoughts and feelings. My hope is that readers find interesting and engaging ideas in my stories, and perhaps a connection and resonance with what matters most to them.
My thoughts and Thanks
It has been wonderful to have Emma Timpany as a guest on my blog today. What a fascinating post that was, Emma, thank you. Folks, come back tomorrow for my thoughts on Three Roads.
My thanks to Isabelle Kenyon for the kind invitation to be a part of this wonderful BlogTour for Three Roads and other stories by Emma Timpany. My thanks also go to Red Squirrel Press for an eCopy of this book in order to review.
What you need to know
Published: Red Squirrel Press
Buy: Red Squirrel Press | Your preferred bookseller
Author: Emma Timpany is from Dunedin, New Zealand. Her publications are Travelling in the Dark, Cornish Short Stories: A Collection of Contemporary Cornish Writing (co-editor), Over the Dam, and The Lost of Syros. Her novella, Travelling in the Dark, won the Hall and Woodhouse DLF Writing Prize 2009, and her stories have won awards including the Sara Park Memorial Short Story Competition and the Society of Authors’ Tom-Gallon Trust Award. She lives with her family in Cornwall.
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