Book Review: Backstories by Simon Van Der Velde

 

Backstories by Simon Van Der Velde

Smoke and Mirrors Press (March 25, 2021)

Short Stories/Contemporary/Mystery Literary Fiction

 

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Blurb : 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.

Synopsis : 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.

 

REVIEW

“Backstories – Where Mystery Meets Nostalgia”

What a unique idea! Fourteen short reads of mostly familiar/famous heroes and villains. The twist? Their identities are not revealed. You have to identify who these characters are. You learn a whole new part of their life that you most likely didn’t know.  It’s a very diverse selection of musicians, actors, politicians, criminals. You have to consider some of the facts and clues woven in their story. A few I knew, a few I had to use Google for, a few I haven’t figured out yet- but I will! Very entertaining and thought provoking. Absolutely enjoyed Backstories!

Reviewed by Comfy Chair Books/Lisa Reigel (September 25, 2021)

ARC provided by author

#literaryfiction #shortstories #biographicalfiction #mystery #contemporaryfiction #culturalhistory #diversity #nostalgia #music #crime #socialjustice #Backstories #simonvandervelde @simonvdvwriter

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A3F0EEC0-4582-422B-9E7F-569110B2842D-1Simon 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 Shortstory 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.

  1. 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.

 

Backstories – ‘the stand-out most original book of the year’ – is a collection of stories each told from the point of view of one of my personal heroes, (or villains) back when they were just another Jew or black, or queer – back when they were nobody. Bullied, assaulted or psychologically abused, their road to redemption was never easy, and for some there would be no redemption, only a descent into evil.

These are the stories of people you know. The settings are mostly 60’s and 70’s UK and USA, the driving themes are inclusion and social justice – but the real key to these stories is that I withhold the protagonists’ identities. 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.

I should also add that this is a book that operates on two levels. Yes, there’s the game of identifying the mystery activist or actor, singer or murderer, but there is then the more serious business of trying to understand them. This in turn leads to the challenge of overlaying what you now know about these famous people onto what you thought you knew – not to mention the inherent challenge to your moral compass.

These are people you know, but not as you know them. Peel back the mask and see.

This book is dedicated to the victims of violent crime, the struggle against discrimination in all its forms and making the world a better place for our children. That is why 30% of all profits will be shared between Stop Hate UK, The North East Autism Society and Friends of the Earth.

Simon Van der Velde January, 2021

Backstories is published by Smoke & Mirrors Press.

 

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