It was an honour to take part in one of Yvette Prior’s searching and insightful interviews over the weekend! Our discussion ranged from my books to advice for writers, from space aliens to living life to the full … plus much more!
Comments are closed here and I look forward to catching up with you all on Yvette’s wonderful blog!
Good Morning Readers. Today I am featuring the Priorhouse Interview with blogger and author Annika Perry. ANNIKA: Hello Yvette and thank you so much for the invitation to take part in one of your interviews! It’s a joy to be here! The tagline to my website sums me up in a few words: ‘A writer influenced by her Swedish heritage and Yorkshire upbringing.’ It is this dual background that is the foundation of not only my writing but also my life...
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Wouldn’t our existence be monotonous and bland if we didn’t share our lives, thoughts, events and experiences? Sharing with family and friends is at the core of living and so it is with books.
Finishing a book I am always keen to talk about it with a person close to me, chatting away about the story, the characters development and the emotions evoked. At times (not nearly often enough!) I take a step further and with joy review the book and as a writer, I fully appreciate what this means to fellow authors.
Personally, I treasure every single review! I’m uplifted and heartened by this precious gift of time and energy. This is true for one recent review for my book “The Storyteller Speaks” and within a few paragraphs it delivered a positive punch to my spirits. It is an incredible feeling when someone is deeply touched and affected by one’s work and a terrific boost to one’s writely self. I promise that being mentioned in the same sentence with the outstanding Alice Munro has not gone to my head!
“The Storyteller Speaks” is a beautifully written book of timeless stories, poetry and flash fiction.
Annika Perry writes a carefully constructed, powerful, multi-layered story. She skilfully foreshadows events and a life less than ordinary.
Annika Perry has the gift of a true story teller. She engages the reader to emotionally connect with the characters and stories: My heart aches for an inconsolable child. I have an unexpected visceral reaction to an accident. I am transported to the exact moment in time where I hear the silence. I realize courage can come in many colours. I am moved by the strength and resilience of the human spirit.
“The Storyteller Speaks” reminds me of the powerful stories written by Alice Munro. They are stories that never leave me. The words forever change me. I continue to savour these stories, of ordinary people living a remarkable life. I highly recommend “The Storyteller Speaks.”
Review by Erica Henault on Goodreads
Many thanks to Erica for her review and in the time I’ve known her I value her warm friendship, honesty and humour. Her love of life, family and friends shines through her wonderful and inspirational blog at Behind the Scenery ‘Grateful for the Present Moment’. Do take a closer look at her posts as they brim with her passion of ‘… sharing new perspectives with each other and learning from each other … always observing and paying attention, especially to the lessons that begin in whispers, lessons that get louder and louder.’
“Infinitely more important than sharing one’s material wealth is sharing the wealth of ourselves our time and energy, our passion and commitment, and, above all, our love.” William Simon
*Quote from Erica Henault’s review of “The Storyteller Speaks”.
“The Storyteller Speaks” is available to purchase on all Amazon websites including Amazon UK and Amazon US as well as directly from myself for an autographed copy of the book!
The definition of a makeover is ‘a complete transformation of the appearance of someone or something’.
As many of you might have noticed the recent something that underwent a makeover this week is my blog! A task I’ve wanted to tackle for ages, however I was apprehensive and hence procrastinated.
Would the whole blog disappear if a mistake was made? Maybe all the wonderful comments would erroneously be deleted? The calamities surrounding the possible makeover seemed insurmountable!
To the rescue came my son, a university computer science student, and when he heard my thoughts (and my fears) he promptly offered to help — the very next day!
Yikes! My musings to combine my blog with an author website was finally going to see the light of day.
Where to start?
Where else but the fantastic community of WordPress which I had explored over some months. I’d collated various articles by bloggers and two particularly were ones I referred to over and over again.
Natalie Ducey is not only a wonderful poet and graphic designer; she also prepares the most informative posts about all aspects of blogging. Were it not for her encouragement I would not even have considered the possibility of updating my website.
Through her, I learnt how to download new fonts and how to use them. My ‘signature’ here is in a font I found via her blog and is called ‘Saturday’. The background element upon which it rests is one I bought upon her suggestion. I love its calm and tranquil feeling, reminiscent both of the sea and sky.
Next came the matter of a new theme. I learned that my old theme, Sela, had retired — hopefully with a good pension! Hugh Roberts, a writer and prolific blogger provides super blogging tips at Hugh’s Views and News.
One of his posts featured WordPress themes and he listed some of his favourites. I looked at many of these and finally settled upon one which seemed best to suit my purposes. The theme of my website is called ‘Lovecraft’ and is free to use from WordPress.
Although at one stage I had a tag line underneath my blog, I had taken this away as it no longer reflected me or my work. Tag lines are key to describing you, your website or blog within just a few words, to win the attention of readers and hopefully retain their interest. After considering all the terrific comments about my books, stories and posts I realised two elements within my life stood out and influenced my written works. I feel I captured this within the final tag line of:
‘A writer influenced by her Swedish heritage and Yorkshire upbringing.’
As the deadline for the revamp approached I sketched out a welcome message, organised my book reviews in a document and found the appropriate images and photographs.
The day arrived and my son and I sat down at my computer!
Switching the theme was frighteningly easy but until the button was clicked I nervously kept asking was he sure this was okay? Would I lose anything? By the third reassurance and my hand hovering over the mouse he took affirmative action, borrowed the mouse and clicked the button!
Yeah! My website was on its way to a full makeover! The title and tag line were set to a large font. A custom background colour was selected from the palette and the gentle lavender harmonised all the elements within the website.
Next, there was so much to consider we ended up making a list.
The biggest change was my ‘Welcome’ introduction post. I wanted something brief, engaging and with my photo which was to be pinned to the top of the website. All was achieved — I just hadn’t realised it would be published as a post! As this was more of an informative introduction to the website the comments were removed. Searching Google my son found that the removal of likes and sharing was in the jetpack icon on the top right of the WordPress draft post. An icon I have never even touched before!
Next headings were created and my son set up sub-headings; something I’ve always longed to do and which have impressed when I’ve seen them on other blogs.
Of course, the headings had to lead to something.
For my books and their reviews we made new pages (and to activate these, one needs to click ‘publish’ but fear not, these are not published as a post!)
Last year I finally had managed to add a ‘Contact’ form but only via my ‘About’ page and it was not ideal. As if by magic my son transferred the previous ‘About & Contact’ into HTML, copied the code for the ‘Contact’ form. Once again I had a neater looking ‘About’ page and he quickly set up a new ‘Contact’ heading and page.
As for the sidebar, several elements have been taken away as I felt the website would benefit from a more streamlined and ultimately decluttered appearance.
One issue we discovered was my sprinkling of categories in my previous posts which makes it tricky to settle on just a handful of ‘Blog Topics’ for the drop-down menu. In my early days of blogging, I had no real understanding of categories and liberally made new ones, even for just one obscure subject! These will not be captured by the new headings. Furthermore, some had different types of spellings, eg. Short Stories and short stories, writings, Writings and writing! The only solution is that over time I will edit the categories on my older posts to make them more inclusive.
I’m sure there is yet much more that needs tweaking but in the meantime, I am proud to present to you my new and updated website. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about its creation. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask … and I will pass on the queries to my son! Many thanks to him for all his hard work and patience!
Finally, a shameless shoutout for my musical son Sammy and his Youtube channel. Here he features over 80 of his piano covers, as well as his own compositions and own piano sheet music. For his latest venture, he is taking commissions for sheet music which he creates himself. If there is a piece you, your family or friends long to play but can’t find the sheet music do not hesitate and contact Sammy directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
And at last, a brief reminder of my two books available via Amazon or myself.
The British Library wants my book! It’s official! There again they want a copy of every newly published work; be it a book, manuscript or music score.
It was only recently I learned that this esteemed institution requires publishers, by law, to forward a copy of any new publications. Legal Deposit was established in 1662 and since 2013, it now includes digital as well as print publications. Publishers, which also means authors who self-publish, must send their book to the British Library.
What exactly is Legal Deposit:
“The legal deposit libraries work together to ensure the long term preservation of UK publications, both in print and digital form. They are collected systematically. They ensure that publications are held securely and that they can be discovered and accessed by readers within the legal deposit libraries as well as being preserved for the use of future generations.”
With pride, I pop a copy of “The Storyteller Speaks” in the post to them. I imagine it joining the 170 million items there. These are stored on shelving stretching on 746 km over fourteen floors.
The present British Library at St. Pancreas was only completed towards the end of the last century and it’s a building of beauty and function.
It is home to eleven reading rooms including ones for Rare Books, Manuscripts and Maps! Amongst its collections are materials ranging from Magna Carta to Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebook, from today’s newspapers to websites. For those interested in music there are over seven million recordings from 19th-century wax cylinders recordings to CDs.
Furthermore, a separate building on a 44-acre site in Boston Spa in Yorkshire houses around 70% of the Library’s print collection which accounts for over 80 million items.
Legal deposit is not restricted to only the British Library in London. A further five national libraries can insist on copies being forwarded by the publishers to them. These are the National Libraries of Scotland, Wales and Trinity College Dublin, as well as Cambridge University Library and Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.
Have you heard of Legal Deposit before? Have you sent your book to the British Library? For readers not in the UK, I wonder if there is a similar requirement in your county? Can’t wait to find out more from you all!
From the very first sentence I knew this would be a book review like no other!
“This is not about the war between lovers of dogs or cats. It’s about Annika Perry, a talented writer who works like a cat.”
As I continued to read Sharon Bonin-Pratt’s review of my book ‘The Storyteller Speaks’ I was increasingly awed by its imaginative approach, masterfully weaving the analogy throughout whilst describing my observation of human life, writing style, the book and some of the stories.
Her favourite story is one close to my heart and she captures its essence beautifully.
‘My favorite story is The Whiteout Years, and I’ve read it four times. Out of the gate, it captivated me with passages as lyrical as this one when Carl is driving through a winter storm, remembering his wife, Karin:
“A moment of total silence. With the windows down he sat and listened. He never failed to be awed by the silence, the odd rustle of snow falling gently to the ground from the laden fir trees. The odd animalistic sound deep in the forest, feral and prehistoric.”
While this scene describes the landscape surrounding Carl, it also describes his isolation from the world. Lost in the snowdrift of his grief over his wife’s death, he is blinded by silence and whiteness and can’t move on with his life. The threat of Carl’s possible death looms throughout the story.’
I am honoured and touched by this latest review of my book and I am sure you will be enthralled and captivated by Sharon’s unique review which you can read in full on Sharon Bonin-Pratt’s Ink Flare.
For this post I have turned off comments and look forward to your thoughts and discussions on Sharon’s blog. Thank you so much!
‘The Storyteller Speaks’ is available to buy on Amazon, here are the links for Amazon UK and Amazon US.
‘The Storyteller Speaks’ by Annika Perry brilliantly illustrates how short stories can capture your heart, transport you to the scene of action and submerge you in the emotional journey of the characters. Her stories are a little above your expectations…a lot has to be discerned, which she leaves unsaid and therein lies their magic. Only a few can create it.
The symbolism of ‘Chillies in my Handbag’ is chilling, the agony that the words hide slowly spills out as Perry writes in the style of dual timeline, lending a touch of realism to the story, keeping a firm grip on the reader’s attention, actually hinting at profound matters of domestic strife. Carl’s loss too unravels itself gently as you keep wondering where is he heading in snow and who is constantly whispering “keep safe” in his ear. It is the style and the exquisite language that raises this book above an average storybook.
My heart missed a beat when Jake and Ellie got lost in the shroud of mist and snow and it sank with each shout for them. Such is the effect of Annika’s style of writing! It is difficult to pick up a favorite one from this collection of stories because all of them strike some chord somewhere as they are based on varied themes, each one connects us with the complexities of life, giving a subtle message that we are mere puppets or mute spectators in many situations that we wish to control.
by Balroop Singh
Perry’s debut book is a beautiful read. The twenty-one selections in ‘The Storyteller Speaks’ are primarily short stories, with a smattering of flash fiction and poems. The author states in the afterword that the thread binding the work together is “the belief that there is no such thing as an ordinary life,” and this insight is clearly borne out in her book. It’s what captivated me as I read.
The stories are all quite different, some dark and some lighthearted, though most are filled with the deep emotions of ordinary people as they navigate disappointment, loss, redemption, healing, and love. These are feelings that will strike a chord with most people, even if the circumstances aren’t quite the same. Most of the tales felt “quiet” to me, personal, as if I was looking beneath the outer appearances of a person into the rich pathos of their inner lives.
I tried to pick favorites as I read, but had to give up; there were too many. I recommend this book to anyone who loves short stories and wants to feel moved by the strength and courage of the human spirit.
by D. Wallace Peach
Writers may exaggerate the negative and write dystopian fiction. They may exaggerate the positive and write utopian fiction. In this fascinating collection of short stories, the positive being brought into greater relief is our ability to choose integrity and kindness rather than degenerative and uncaring mindsets and actions. Each story is a core sample of a human moral issue, a history of resiliency and loss, exposed to the light.
In most of the stories the characters are challenged by a tragic or potentially damaging event outside their control; in a moment, their lives are changed drastically, forever. Some of the characters have caused their own dilemma. They go on in a fog or struggle with painful memories and swings of emotion before they reach the tipping point: how will they respond? And it is to their credit they reach this tipping point, because it is done through conscious moral effort. But whether tragedy has come to them or they have made their own mistakes, they eventually recognize the situation through a severe exercise in honesty. This honesty springs from valuing the best sense of who they can be and become. They often draw on enriching relationships with other people and humanizing traditions. Then they go beyond: they make amends. By taking this action, they rise to a new level of moral and ethical consciousness. This is portrayed in clear-eyed fashion, showing how difficult it is to do, and yet liberating.
It is more than interesting for stories like these to be told; it may be necessary for our adaptability and survival, for our thriving as a species. The same could be said for the negative. In fact, these stories blend both in a new and perceptive way.
The flaws in her writing and story composition are small quibbles. For instance, just when I thought the stories would all be similar samples, there was a radical change. It is my hope Annika Perry will continue to hone her craft as a writer. She may yet give us an iconic work.
by Mary Clark
‘The Storyteller Speaks’ is a collection of short stories, and a couple of poems too, about life, love and death. This is the debut book of Annika Perry and she has certainly managed to write a lovely selection of very different stories.
‘Chillies in my Handbag’ is a story of a woman’s gradual disillusionment with love, her married life and even her child. The Mother’s inability to protect her only son from entering the traditional boarding school attended by her husband and his father before him, sets him on the road to becoming everything she has come to dislike in her husband. The son’s gradual reshaping of himself, a round peg, to fit into the traditional square hole is interesting. Will the Mother finally rebel against the dictates of her husband and if she does where will it all end?
‘The Man on the Flying Trapeze’ is a rather interesting poem about a trapeze artist who finds himself in an accident situation. The format of the poem was rather unique with each stanza reading almost like a limerick. I did enjoy this very much.
‘Smouldering Shame’ was another tale that fascinated me with its very likelihood in the set of circumstances. A tale of a woman whose life suddenly comes unraveled because of the secret activities of her husband. He is a man who cannot see the blessings in his life and, as many older men do, seeks more excitement in his retirement than is on offer in his home with rather disastrous consequences.
A couple of the stories could definitely have continuations. I think the author may have quite a bit more to tell us about these characters. I really enjoyed this book. I think Annika Perry has a lot of potential as a writer.
by Robbie Cheadle
My heart and mind were opened as the author promised in her “About the Book” section at the end of this marvelous collection of short stories. I’m generally not a reader of short stories, because I like the longer process of getting to know a character for an entire novel. But Perry gives full stories in a short story format that touch the reader while allowing the reader to imagine the before and after of the characters’ lives. The stories aren’t all happiness and light, some are edgier and sad. But they all give out a light through the expressive language used by the author. Also, each narrator is different in these stories, and the point of view can be first person or third; Perry switches it up. I took my time reading this collection, because each story is unique, and I liked spending some time with each one after I’d finished reading it. Well done, Annika Perry!
by Pamela S. Wight
The Storyteller Speaks is a wonderful collection of short stories, flash fiction and poems that depict a wide range of events, characters and viewpoints. At the centre of each is human relationships and the effect that a single event can often have on the course of a life. A full gamut of emotions is here, including love, grief, anger and redemption. The stories are moving, uplifting, sometimes dark, sometimes amusing. My favourites include: ‘The Whiteout Years’ which is a heart-breaking and touching depiction of grief and hope; and ‘Loss of a Patriarch’, a moving story about saying goodbye to the author’s grandfather. I also enjoyed the influences of the author’s Swedish heritage. This is a collection to savour and a book that fulfils its promise to win your heart.
By Andrea Stephenson
This is not about the war between lovers of dogs or cats. It’s about Annika Perry, a talented writer who works like a cat.
A dog is all blubbery love smeared across your cheeks, a loyal paladin stationed stalwart by your side. Tongue lollygagging out of its jaw, tail flailing around like a pig in a muddy pit – you’re gonna be drowning in slobbery canine love in about five seconds. Or maybe a fangy foreign agent hired to attack: a German shepherd or English pit bull. Teeth bared and muzzle lowered –you better run. You always know where you stand with Rover.
But a cat – you can’t tell anything by looking at a cat. There it sits on the windowsill, licking its paw, indifferent to all things human – the tasty treats, the dangling mouse toy, the arms ready to cuddle it. Suddenly it pounces, its claws deep in your bicep leaving parallel bloody tracks or a snip of your skin flapping loosely as it samples your nose. And then sashays back to the windowsill to await its next victim. Go ahead, stick around, it could be you again, if you dare to get close enough. Silly you, thinking Puss loves ya.
I mention this because Annika Perry writes like a cat. There she sits at the window, chewing on the end of her pencil, watching the world go by. And if you are anywhere near her line of sight, she’s probably watching you. Observing you and all your little peccadilloes. Like the way you hold a letter that might seal your future, or how you sip wine while your mind is loitering elsewhere. How the March wind drives rain upwards, making an umbrella useless. How a bouquet of vibrant flowers devastates you with memories and also lights up your world. You didn’t know she was looking that closely, did you? That’s a cat for you – indifferent but all knowing.
At first glance, ‘The Storyteller Speaks’ appears to be gentle family fare, tales written by a sweet faced, blue eyed lady who spends her time between Great Britain and Sweden, bearing candles and roses, taking photos, penning notes.
It’s how she entices you to her book. I’ve read ‘The Storyteller Speaks’ twice, the first time in order of presentation, the second in a meandering stroll through her poems and short stories.
If I attempt to review each of the twenty-one entries, I’ll over-report and do the book no justice. So I’m going to focus on a few tales that blew me away, as if driven by a sirocco out of the Sahara. This is important to remember, because like a cat, Perry sneaks up on you to lunge for your emotional jugular while you’re unaware she’s even in the room. She’s a keen observer of people, absorbing cultural details and body language.
‘Sofia!’ is about a little girl and her stuffed toy whose uncle takes her to visit the local zoo. It’s told through eyewitness accounts of zoo visitors and officials who answer Inspector Nunn’s questions. Apparently the child, Sofia, has been kidnapped or gotten lost as the focus of each interrogation appears to be what has happened to the child. Perry escalates suspense as we wait to find out if Sofia is safe or remains lost or even perhaps is dead, our suspicion and concern for the little girl mounting with each witness. The final person interviewed is Marija, Sofia’s mother, to whom Nunn relates the awful conclusion of the story. A shred of flesh hangs from Perry’s claws.
‘At a Loose End’ is a sweet story, about the time of life when you want to make significant changes to accommodate a different economic reality and new opportunities. Some decisions need only a small alteration, an act not possible a few years earlier. But family wedges into the narrow spaces and – I won’t ruin the story for you. But I bet you’ll agree. It’s a rather sweet story, proving sometimes the cat just wants to sun herself on the sill.
‘Lasting Sanctuary’ is a shorter story but one that packs a twist worthy of Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot. To encompass so much in a wisp of a tale, just a brief iteration of this cat’s nine lives, is brilliant.
My favorite story is ‘The Whiteout Years’, and I’ve read it four times. Out of the gate, it captivated me with passages as lyrical as this one when Carl is driving through a winter storm, remembering his wife, Karin:
‘A moment of total silence. With the windows down he sat and listened. He never failed to be awed by the silence, the odd rustle of snow falling gently to the ground from the laden fir trees. The odd animalistic sound deep in the forest, feral and prehistoric.’
While this scene describes the landscape surrounding Carl, it also describes his isolation from the world. Lost in the snowdrift of his grief over his wife’s death, he is blinded by silence and whiteness and can’t move on with his life. The threat of Carl’s possible death looms throughout the story.
Annika Perry is a writer in tune with our deepest responses to the human condition, capturing the nuances of our psyche. Like an alert cat, she assesses carefully, knowing what to absorb for future use, how to convey realistic dialogue, which details will reveal more than the sum of their parts, and how to wind an unpredictable plot out of simple fare.
Unlike cats, Perry is respectful of people and all their foibles.
Sharon L. Pratt
The sub-title of this book is no overstatement. “Powerful Stories to Win Your Heart” is entirely apposite. I found the majority of the short stories fascinating and moving.
Annika writes succinctly, engaging the reader from the outset. She’s quick to paint a scene and I immediately felt I was “right there” with the characters. Scenes include a kitchen, a bedroom, a classroom, the inside of a car, even a prison cell. And she soon pulled me into each story with a turn of phrase that quite often injected a bit of suspense into the plot.
Topics cover the whole gamut of human experiences. Gambling debt. Redundancy. A fatal accident. A loveless marriage. A petty argument with long-lasting consequences. Injustice. Theft. Suicide. And much more. Likewise, be prepared to experience a range of emotions. Regret, joy, fear, horror, relief, shock, happiness …
I’ve been a fan of Annika’s blog voice for many years and particularly her ability to say so much with so few words in the short stories she often shares. Annika has a way of saying just enough to engage readers without giving too much away. She dribbles out clues. I hang on every word, wondering how it will unfold. I want to know–but not too fast because I’m enjoying the verbal journey. I need to savour every paragraph, every parsed thought, every surprise conclusion.
In ‘The Storyteller Speaks’, Annika provides an eclectic mix of short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. All of these are character-driven explorations into the raw feelings so often part of everyday events and yet, through Annika, I see them in a different light.
by Jacqui Murray (Vine Voice)
The stories and poems in Annika Perry’s debut book are indeed compelling. Each one evokes various emotions from everyday life. I’ve followed Annika’s blog for a while now, so I wasn’t surprised at how wonderful the final outcome turned out to be. The cover alone is stunning! She has her magical way of playing with words to pull the reader in, but keep one hanging on until the end.
However, not all of her writing in this book is lighthearted; some is pretty dark. There were times when I smiled, moments when I was horrified, and occasions for tears. The beauty is that with each turn of the page to a new story or poem, the reader is pleasantly surprised. With this being said, it was difficult to choose favorites, but I managed to pull out a few: ‘Chillies in My Handbag’, ‘Bouquet of White’, ‘A Rare Passion’, ‘Stars of Wonder’, and ‘Loss of a Patriarch’, which personally resonated with me because of my father’s passing last fall. Another bonus to this creative compilation was the ‘About the Stories’ section at the back of the book. I really enjoyed reading how each story was born. Overall, anyone who chooses to read this wonderful collection of short stories and poems will not be disappointed. This was a wonderful start to Annika Perry’s writing journey, and I’m sure I’m not alone in anticipating new publications from this amazing author.
by Lauren Scott
This is a brilliant collection of stories and poems. Each one offers a poignant message, sometimes uplifting, sometimes heartbreaking. What is consistent throughout is the command of the language, the eloquent turn of phrase, and the obvious passion behind each tale. There truly is something for everyone in this collection. I was particularly drawn to two stories: the last one, as it reminded me of my own grandfather, and the handbag story, which broke my heart (no mother should have to live through that). The author information at the end of the book was a lovely addition to the piece. I’m looking forward to more from this author.
by Luanne Castle
This abundant collection of stories is well-written and an affecting read. The stories of everyday life go straight to the heart; some nostalgic, some reflective, some uplifting, and some heartwarming. I enjoyed reading this book, and the notes at the end about what inspired some of the stories.
by Khaya Ronkainen
Annika Perry is a natural storyteller, a wordsmith of great talent. She writes at times with the language of a poet, at other times with the sharp and daring strokes of Picasso.
Sheer light infuse her pages;
Darkness where the soul cries.
Annika’s Anthology consists of stories filled with depth and entertainment. Joy and grief. Romance and thriller. They all share a deep care and love for their characters. The pace is unhurried, yet entirely without superfluous words. You are left totally absorbed in the events and settings.
How does she do it?
All I can say is … Annika, keep on writing.
I am hungry for more.
A wonderful book filled with meaningful stories. It would make a great gift.
by bernadette laganella
The appeal of short fiction is that it offers a glimpse of a character’s life, a problem, a twist and a quick finish. Annika Perry’s debut collection, ‘The Storyteller Speaks’, makes good on this promise in her newly published book of fiction and poetry.
Perry gives the reader twenty-one distinct stories about the daily challenges of marriage, children, friendship, family and loss. Her characters are knowable and likable, even the ones who find themselves on the bad end of a decision. Many of her stories depict the author’s upbringing in Sweden and the United Kingdom, yet show a universal understanding of family and relationships. And even though the stories are separate, the reader begins to develop a sense of community, as it seems as if some of the author’s characters might know each other.
Several standout stories will stick in the reader’s mind because of memorable characters and conflicts. In ‘The Whiteout Years’, a young widower wonders how he can let go of the heavy burden of guilt. Likewise, a young mother faces a very different future in ‘Sophia!’ after a bizarre and tragic series of events. In one, there is a sign of hope. In the other, an unknown challenge.
Other stories finish with a warm feeling of love and friendship. In ‘Friends Forever’, Perry’s characters overcome a long and painful break and in ‘Role-Playing’, happiness is a given when old friends reunite.
But Perry isn’t afraid of exploring difficult or dark subjects. In ‘The Game’, children playing a seemingly harmless game discover the frightening power of their diversion. And in ‘Smouldering Shame’, Perry’s characters confront betrayal and a sorrowful tragedy. In ‘A Rare Passion’, a young man acts on impulse and immediately sees the folly of his decision. Can he fix his mistake in time?
Despite difficult subjects in many stories, Perry offers a strong overlying message of hope, love and family, as shown in her final story, ‘Loss of a Patriarch’ in which a family finds peace and comfort after a beloved father and grandfather dies.
‘The Storyteller Speaks’ is a touching look at the challenges of life and relationships, an excellent debut. I look forward to reading more from this promising author.
by Barbara Vitelli
Having been a follower of Perry’s blog for a number of years, I was thrilled when she announced she was releasing a collection of her short stories. I knew anything she published would not disappoint. ‘The Storyteller Speaks’ is a mix of poetry, flash fiction and short stories. Each piece is brilliantly written in a way that only Perry can do. She’s a beautiful writer who knows how to draw the reader into a story. I’ll look forward to more work in the future from this talented author.
by Jill Weatherholt
I think this book is a good read. Annika Perry is a perceptive observer of the human condition, and has a gift of harnessing the humdrum minutiae of everyday existence and bringing it to life in short, concise, well told stories. She also includes the occasional entertaining poem and limerick to further demonstrate her talents and add to the variety. As a bonus, Ms Perry includes notes at the end of the anthology, explaining her motivation for writing the stories, many of which, directly or indirectly, are borne out of her own experiences.
by Mark Charlton
Wonderful really wonderful. Beautiful stories that are moments of pure escapism. The characters make you want to know more and the simple but beautifully written stories are both moving and engaging. Thank you.
by Hayley Smith
Perry’s 21 stories are reflections on grief, love, murder and the extraordinary details of ordinary life. Her descriptions shine. Perry’s voice is one that sticks with you long after the stories have been read. They are emotional pieces. Moving. Honest. Filled with love and imagination.
Enjoyable and thought-provoking.
By Carol Balawyder
I am a big fan of Annika’s blog and ‘The Storyteller Speaks’ does not disappoint. It is a well written and eclectic mix of stories from different genres that will indeed “win your heart.”
‘The Whiteout Years’ is poignant and beautifully written and “The Game” is both short and spooky. I particularly enjoyed ‘A Rare Passion’ based on a true story, and ‘Loss of a Patriarch’, on the loss of Annika’s dear grandfather known as Morfar.
I believe both Morfar and Mormor will be incredibly proud of their granddaughter.
by Brigid P. Gallagher
‘The Storyteller Speaks’ is an electric collection of 21 short stories, flash fiction and poetry that makes for an entertaining read. These stories cover a wide range of situations such as love, murder, revenge, misadventures, injustices and grief.
The author bares her soul and grief over the loss of her Morfar and Mormor in the story, ‘Loss of a Patriarch’. She keeps the readers on edge and guessing until the end of some of the stories as in ‘Sofia’. She has an innate ability to use her words sparingly and dribble out little clues to keep the reader hanging on her every word until the end of the stories.
At the back of the book the author shares her inspiration for each story. It’s evident that she uses daily experiences in her life to create intriguing and fascinating tales.
This is a commendable beginning book for this talented author who will be one to watch for future books.
by J. E. Spina
This is a wonderful collection of short stories. The author does such an excellent job of bringing her characters to life, it’s like pulling back a veil and stepping into their worlds. The flow of the writing is beautiful, the descriptions especially vivid. I rode emotional highs and lows along with the characters, swept up in their tales. Some are simple, some complex, all engaging. There are many gems in this collection, but I believe the first and the last are my personal favorites. The back matter in the book–which explains how many of the stories came to be–made the tales all the richer. I look forward to more work from this talented new writer!
by Mae Clair
A compelling collection of short fiction. Each story engages right from the start, and keeps delivering surprises as the character is developed and the action unfolds. Every piece is powerful in its own way. My favourite is ‘Chillies in my Handbag’, and I don’t want to give the plot away, but enough to say this: it’s a perfect illustration of Annika Perry’s talent and skill in capturing the deepest moments of the heart. From hope and loss to a joyful decision. From ambition and small joys to quiet desperation, then a calm and certain decision to change one’s life. Highly recommended.
by Cynthia Reyes
Reading this book is like eating chocolate — total bliss! You won’t be able to put it down once you’ve started!
Sometimes it is good to sit down and read some short stories. So much can be said in a few carefully chosen words. Which is the case in this delightful collection of stories and poems. Stories about a first and forever love, stolen flowers, forgotten chillies, frozen landscapes and a miscarriage of justice evoke a wide range of emotions.
My favourite story is the ‘Loss of A Patriarch’, depicting a family saying goodbye to a much-loved family member told in such a heartwarming manner it is sure to produce tears. For a first time author, this is a wonderful collection showing a range of writing skills.
By Darlene Foster
Enjoyed the stories a lot.
By Yvette Prior
‘The Storyteller Speaks’ is full of wonderful thought-provoking tales that don’t reveal too much and leave plenty of room for the reader’s imagination to take shape. The stories are very British and some are inspired by true events.
By Kevin Cooper
A really well-composed collection. Varied too, with no common theme – a bit like a box of chocolates. Several beautifully written scenes based on the author’s own life – ‘The Whiteout Years’ and ‘Loss of a Patriarch’ are examples. A heartbreaking story about the miscarriage of justice – ‘The Green Cage’. An oddity based on an unsolved crime – ‘A Rare Passion’. The author writes with skill and emotion, not afraid to experiment with her writing by throwing in the odd limerick-type poem (‘The Flying Trapeze’) to tell a story.
I enjoyed this collection from beginning to end.
By Roy McCarthy
Every story had me feeling as though I was watching and listening from a hidden spot. Real characters with real emotions. Such depth in each and every one and no wasted words. I couldn’t believe the book came to an end so quickly. Wonderful read.
Bubbles of joy were unleashed within me during my recent big interview. Big as in numbers! This Spring I happily accepted the kind invitation to give a book reading from my book ‘The Storyteller Speaks’ to a local group.
An interview was also discussed and agreed – once I’d ascertained that the numbers attending would be around 14. That I could cope with as I’m still unused to talking in public to larger groups.
Imagine my surprise when a week before the event, during a chat with one of the organisers, I realised that I’d misheard and learnt 40 people would be present! Yikes! A pathetic cough failed to mask my shock and fear; then I started to sit straighter as I was awed by this wonderful opportunity to meet so many people interested in my book. I couldn’t wait!
Below is the press release/article I wrote after my visit to Cuppa Club. I had an amazing time and felt honoured by the warmest of welcomes. Furthermore I sold lots of books and it was surreal to sit at the table, feverishly signing books as a queued formed around me! I felt like I was an author at last! In the rush I forgot to give out the bookmarks until halfway through!
Local author Annika Perry was overwhelmed with the warm welcome she received this week during an interview and book reading at a local Cuppa Club.
‘I’m overjoyed with the wonderful reception from everyone. It’s fabulous,’ said Annika. ‘Initially I felt rather daunted as I had misheard and expected 14 people to be present, in the end over 40 attended.’
‘Absolutely fantastic,’ was the verdict of one member, Glenn Chapman.
Annika Perry was interviewed by Ann Chapman, a volunteer at the club and spoke about her life as an author as well as about her debut book ‘The Storyteller Speaks’. Ann declared that ‘the visit went very well and there was such a good response afterwards’.
The members, ranging in age from 55 to 92, heard how Annika has been writing since childhood but took it up seriously three years ago. Her first book is a collection of short stories and poems and explores ‘the belief that there is no such thing as an ordinary life; they’re all extraordinary’.
Annika is currently working on the last edits of her first full-length novel, ‘Island Girl’ as well as looking forward to publishing her first children’s book next year.
Ann Brown was one of many who afterwards bought a signed copy of Annika’s book. ‘I very much enjoyed the interview and I am buying a book to take with me to dance club,’ she said. ‘It will do the rounds there and short stories are very popular amongst some older readers as they like shorter stories that don’t require so much retention of the plot found in longer novels.’
Graham Sexton enjoyed the extract of Annika’s prize winning story ‘Biding Her Time’. ‘I found it very moving. There wasn’t a superfluous word in the writing and went straight to the point in the least amount of words. Rather like Earnest Hemingway who insisted every word has to do its work.’
Sheila Allen found the interview ‘very enlightening’. She added that, ’I had no idea Annika was writing; she kept that quiet. We only realised when we saw an article in Halstead Gazette at the beginning of the year.’
‘Cuppa Club was originally started by Sheila and Graham Allen spring 2014,’ explained Ann Chapman. ‘Following the closure of their shop, G & S News, the Club became a way for the villagers, particularly the elderly, to stay in touch with each other.’
Annika would like to extend her warmest thanks to Cuppa Club for the opportunity to speak to the group and also for their generous gift.
‘The Storyteller Speaks’, which has 18 four & five-star reviews on Amazon across the UK and in America, is available to buy at Amazon UK or Amazon US.
The final published article can be seen below or online here. The headline is inspired!
Finally, before I whither from the heat which has enveloped the UK and reduced me to a constant state of lassitude, I’m looking forward to my imminent summer sojourn in Sweden. With concern of causingdiscombobulation for you all, I am in aquandary whether to attempt to blog or not. With no wifi in the beautiful retreat in the forest, I fear my ominous mood at lack of mobile signal will result in colourful vitriol. Therefore, I will only be able pop by to you for quick visits now and then.
The above paragraph is my funny (I hope) response to Pam’s challenge at roughwighting for me to use my ‘Breakfast Cereal Words’ in a piece of writing … I succeeded … barely!
So, I send my heartfelt wishes to you all for a wonderful and peaceful summer! May the sun shine for you and in all your hearts!
Wow! I felt like a movie star as I left the school, a large bouquet of flowers nestled in the crook of my arm. My mind was spinning, my heart was light with joy. I’d just had a most wonderful afternoon with a group of creative writers at a local school. Aged from eleven to fifteen, the eighteen students were brimming with questions, ideas and originality. Their enthusiasm knows no bounds (a soaring and liberating sensation). From my talk below the top tip that remained with the students afterwards was to ‘Write from your Heart’ – one couldn’t ask or hope for more.
Here is my talk to them in full for your perusal and if new (or not so new) to writing I hope it can inspire you and your work.
A heartfelt thank you for the invitation to meet you all today. I’m thrilled to be here and can’t wait to learn more about all of you and listen to some of your work.
First of all, how did I become an author?
Writing has been my lifelong passion. Just as I cannot imagine a life without books, nor can I imagine a day without writing. An inspirational teacher at primary school instilled in me the joy of creative writing and I haven’t stopped since. Writing became a way for me to paint with words, layering them for texture, using bold dramatic language on occasions, other times capturing the gentle nuances of a moment with subtle word play. It is an art form, that can be crafted, shaped, moulded to an endless variety of formats.
Three years ago I had the opportunity to start writing seriously and a well-established writing course gave me guidance on developing my writing as well as advising me on how to become published.
There are countless short story competitions available and entering some of these was my first port of call. I bought the magazines, studied their stories, and also, this is critical, read the rules to competitions. It baffles me how many fail to do this!
Very soon I won first prize in a Writing Magazine short story competition and the success of ‘Biding Her Time’ proved to be the confidence booster I needed.
I quickly developed a love for short stories and I delight in crafting them. They require clarity, conciseness whilst not being abrupt or missing out on the artistry of language and they can often be a form of character study. Every word has to count!
I draw inspiration from all around me — conversations, everyday experiences, and even news items. If an idea strikes me I make a note of it as soon as possible; after all it’s proven that ideas can float in and out of our consciousness within three seconds. If a notebook is to hand, I’ll scribble in that, otherwise I’ll tap away on the ‘note’ app on my mobile.
I’ve kept journals since young and they are a quiet meeting place for me to jot down my thoughts, ideas, concerns and story possibilities in private; never to be shared or scrutinised. I return to some of these at a later date and sometimes find a gem of an idea for a story, poem or even article.
The first line of a story is critical to me. Once that is in place the rest of the writing flows. It is as if someone is ‘dictating’ the story, it becomes organic and takes on a life form of its own. Subconsciously I will be writing away, the first draft always on paper, and many times I will be wonderfully surprised by a twist in a story or the strength of a minor character forcing their way to centre stage. It is a magical surreal experience and one that can last for hours.
The voice of the piece is a major factor in writing. I feel there are always two voices.
Your voice as the writer must be just that — YOURS. Be true to yourself when you write; this is what makes your writing original and enables it to shine out.
The voice or point of view of a story can vary. Will the point of view be first person, which is often more immediate and direct? Or will it be in the third person, which allows you more scope to examine events beyond just one person? There is also the option of the second person – you – format which I experimented with in one of my short stories. Of course, many books feature multiple points of views and it is important to make each distinct and at all times clear whose head you’re in!
Although I have printed a one-off edition of my earlier childhood work and also been featured as part of my writing group’s anthology, ‘The Storyteller Speaks’, is my first published book. I was encouraged to publish some of my short stories in a book by the readers of my blog.
My blog was set up following the recommendation by my tutor for the need of an online presence! As a result, I have made wonderful friends across the globe and also connected with people within all aspects of the publishing industry. Through this networking, I ‘met’ the cover artist for my book who lives in Australia and a company in Ireland provided extensive formatting support.
Furthermore, I increasingly use Twitter to interact with readers, writers and publishers.
Planning a novel is not something I’d considered before I started writing mine a couple of years ago. ‘Island Girl’ is now in its final editing stages and I recollect its early days with fondness. Then, as with much of my writing, I set out to write it with just the backbones of a few ideas, themes and setting.
However, my time-line was slightly array, details of my characters and places were forgotten from one chapter to the next. It was a lot tougher keeping control of all the elements of a full-length novel. Quickly I developed various techniques to avoid future faults.
One way to spot both grammatical errors and glaring mistakes is always to read your work aloud! Since it is a lot to expect to read a whole novel aloud I started using ‘Natural Reader’ app.
Various writing programs are a huge benefit.The free online thesaurus is always open on my tab as I’m working. Similarly, a grammar program such as ‘Grammarly’ helps me to fine tune work, but I never automatically adopt its suggestions. I write on a software program called ‘Scrivener’. This acts as a virtual binder and allows me to plan chapters, look at my ideas on a virtual corkboard, include research documents, as well as writing the novel chapter by chapter.
Not content with writing short stories and a novel, I have also completed two children’s books.
What other advice can I give?
Throw yourself into writing and relish the experience! Find the magic within you and share it! Write from your heart! This may be easier said than done, if like me, your head tends to rule. Don’t disregard your mind but just don’t overthink.
Once you’ve finished a piece, and this can be tough, put it aside for a while. Returning to it with fresh eyes will be key to the next stage; editing. Here engage that brain, tap into your creativity, look out for ways to improve your writing. Perhaps you’re ‘telling’ too much instead of ‘showing’? Not only is it more enjoyable for the writer to show through their writing, it will lift your story.
Never underestimate the effectiveness of dialogue to carry a story forward, to show emotions, even description. It’s striking when you can have a sequence of speech without the ‘he said’/‘she said’. Try to avoid always using adverbs with these; the anger etc should come out in the language where possible.
Never be afraid of feedback of your work; after all we learn through constructive criticism. Also start to read your own written work with a critical eye when necessary.
Play around with your writing. Writing outside one’s comfort zone is a great way to bring new life into your work. Try another unusual genre. Shift your work around — explore new vocabulary and if writing fantasy, maybe even make up a few new words of your own! Use different tenses, viewpoints. I felt a sense of liberation writing from a male viewpoint in some of my stories and using the present tense brought a welcome sense of rush and urgency to them.
When not writing, read lots! Not just in one genre but across the board. It’s a wonderful way to learn. See what works well, and also look out for writing that falters, flatlines … learn from other’s mistakes.
When you start a new piece of writing, remember that this is your first and rough draft. If you wait to write down the most I and absolute best version of your work you may never start at all as you will feel inhibited before even writing a word.
Write with your Ideal Reader in mind — recall your own emotions and feelings when you are swept away by a story. There is nothing quite like escaping into another world; when the present real-world fades to that of the fiction. My dream has been to recreate that experience for all my readers — and hopefully I have. Make your characters three-dimensional, so real that neither you nor the reader wants to leave them!
Through the nitty-gritty of writing, the joy and power of creating worlds, characters, stories should never be underestimated.
As one famous writer said of short stories: ‘(they) are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams. They are journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back in time for dinner.’
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has read and/or reviewed my book over the past couple of months.
It’s amazing to read your thoughts about my collection through your comments and reviews!
Reviews are the ultimate gift for authors and the latest one on Amazon for The Storyteller Speaks was the perfect start of the month for me!
Overwhelmed with joy, I read it over and over and was touched how Lauren Scott managed to bring in so many aspects of my stories and poems. My warmest thanks to Lauren for her wonderful review and for letting me share it here on my blog.
‘A COMPELLING DEBUT BOOK!
The stories and poems in Annika Perry’s debut book are indeed compelling. Each one evokes various emotions from everyday life.
I’ve followed Annika’s blog for awhile now, so I wasn’t surprised at how wonderful the final outcome turned out to be. The cover alone is stunning! She has her magical way of playing with words to pull the reader in, but keep one hanging on until the end.
However, not all of her writing in this book is lighthearted; some is pretty dark. There were times when I smiled, moments when I was horrified, and occasions for tears. The beauty is that with each turn of the page to a new story or poem, the reader is pleasantly surprised.
With this being said, it was difficult to choose favorites, but I managed to pull out a few: Chillies in My Handbag, Bouquet of White, A Rare Passion, Stars of Wonder, and Loss of a Patriarch, which personally resonated with me because of my father’s passing last fall.
Another bonus to this creative compilation was the About the Stories section at the back of the book. I really enjoyed reading how each story was born.
Overall, anyone who chooses to read this wonderful collection of short stories and poems will not be disappointed. This was a wonderful start to Annika Perry’s writing journey, and I’m sure I’m not alone in anticipating new publications from this amazing author.
5.0 out of 5 stars
by Lauren Scott’
If you want to check out The Storyteller Speaks it is available here at Amazon US or Amazon UK. Thank you so much!
Lauren Scott blogs at Baydreamer and this is her ‘space for sharing poetry and photography, and for initiating occasional discussions.’ It’s always inspiring and heart-warming to read her posts and chat away via comments. Do pay her a visit!
Just in case you might have forgotten (I know, how is it possible!) my debut book, The Storyteller Speaks, was published earlier this year. The ebook was released mid-December.
As the whirlwind of promotion is calming I want to share some of the lovely people who let me visit their blogs.
One of the first ones was Denzil over at The Book Owl. His searching and insightful questions had me pondering as amongst many queries, I answered how I convey emotions and how easy or hard I find it to write from the male point of view.
Not satisfied with just an interview he also reviewed my book and described it as covering ‘the whole gamut of human experiences.’ What these could be and for his impressions of my book as well as the overall owl rating, please read the full post by clicking the link below. Comments have been turned off on my blog for this post. I look forward to reading your comments over on The Book Owl.