Any one who, like me, enjoyed Joanne Phillips’ debut novel, Can’t Live Without, will have been eager to read A Life Unpredicted, her first collection of short stories, which is now available as an e-book.
Brought out hot on the heels of her first book (check out her cover image, right – see what I did there?), this new volume contains all the hallmarks of her novel: sensitive observation, eloquent phraseology, a kind heart, a quick intelligence and a generous nature. But it also demonstrates a wider range of subjects and themes. While some of these stories might sit comfortably within the pages of women’s magazines, others are more melancholy and poignant. The shift in tone for this book is cleverly conveyed by the ambiguous, slightly sinister front cover illustration, showing an empty child’s swing against a chilly-looking background. A Life Unpredicted isn’t all about happy endings. It’s stepping beyond the zone of comforting chick-lit, comforting though some of the tales may be.
With many debut novelists, a well-received first novel is not actually their first ever piece of fiction, but the culmination of a long apprenticeship honing their craft on other pieces. Their success does not really come overnight. As the speed with which this collection was brought out suggests, this is the also case with Joanne Phillips. Included are some tales which have been longlisted or shortlisted for writing prizes. Not one to rest on her laurels, she is now studying for an MA in Creative Writing while completing her debut novel’s sequel. Her excellent website, in which she generously shares her experience of becoming a self-published author, reveals that her day-job is a professional indexer, a career which must contribute to her meticulous attention to detail.
An energetic self-promoter, Joanne is a great advertisement for the new generation of high-quality writing now hitting the market without the middleman of the traditional, commercial publishing house. Readers are still less eager to read and review short stories than novels, although the rise of flash fiction is increasing the profile of short stories in the public eye. I’m sure that in time, A Life Unpredicted will garner the praise and success already enjoyed by her novel. The author’s generous spirit in sharing her experience online will encourage many other aspiring authors to strive to follow in her footsteps. Back to those high heels again…
To order copies of either book, through various outlets, (including the option of personally signed novels in time for Christmas!), click here, or order at your local high street bookshop.