I received an ebook of Backstories from the author. The choice to review was my own and this review forms my honest opinion.
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.
What a hidden gem this is! Short, but it packs a really enjoyable punch. Impactful, thrilling and at times emotional as you uncover the person behind the what you think you know.
I loved the concept from the off – stories told from the point of view of a mystery protagonist at a pivotal moment in their lives. These protagonists being famous (or infamous) in some way.
It really should have come with an warning, because I started reading the first story, and then the next, and the next……it was highly addictive reading and I absolutely loved it from beginning to end, and of the fourteen stories there was only one that I couldn’t figure out who it was (and then I fell down a Wikipedia rabbit hole in the wee hours).
It was so refreshing to read, particularly with those who are on the more notorious end of fame, as while Backstories in no way seeks to redeem them for their actions, it does offer a glimpse of perhaps why they took the route they did in life. It humanises them and I really enjoyed how it made my mind tick. In terms of style, the writing is accessible and engaging, with clues dripped masterfully throughout. It’s such a clever idea, as it removes pre-conceived ideas from the consciousness as you read and I think this is where the power of the book lies. If each story began with the name of the person it dealt with, I just don’t think it would have had the same impact.
I’ve heard that Backstories 2 (with even more planned for ongoing Backstories series’ afterwards) is on the way this summer, and I’m placing myself first in the queue to pre-order!
30% of profits will be donated and shared between Stop Hate UK, The North-East Autism Society and Friends of the Earth.
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. 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.