Do anthologies have popular appeal these days? And if not, why not? We’re told that readers have given up on novels and want something shorter, that the novella is making a comeback and that, short stories, flash fiction and graphics are what catches the book buying public’s attention. Most comments about the reading public need to be taken with at least half a teaspoonful of salt, of course. But it does seem that short, varied pieces of writing with strong individual points of view ought to appeal to a wide audience and since an anthology usually has “something for everyone” within its covers shouldn’t it be just the ticket?
The Spirit of the Hills Writers’ Group , based in Northumberland County Ontario, has published two anthologies, in 2012 and 2015, and is about to launch the third Hill Spirits 111 at our Festival of the Arts in early November. They have been a great success in introducing our band of writers to a larger audience. The anthologies showcase the many talented writers who belong to our group and live in this area—Northumberland has become a hotbed for artists of all kinds. This year the anthology celebrates place; both Canada and Northumberland itself, and the people who live here and who lived here before us.
Hill Spirits 111 features short stories, short pieces of memoir, histories and poems. With Alan Bland, you can drive across Canada to deliver a 1927 Rolls Royce to his father-in-law in Vancouver. Or take a canoe trip through some of our stunning Ontario lakes enjoying the scenery and the solitude with Rene Schmidt. You can also join Christopher Black as he recalls, in verse, riding the rails, with a group of young men, in his youth. There are stories and reminiscences about those who came here as immigrants, others about historical events and family relationships. Many pieces are humorous, other more serious.
Linda Hutsell Manning, novelist and poet, writes about the interview process she endured when she applied to teach in a one room school in the 60s. Linda brilliantly sketches the characters of her interviewers and makes the reader laugh, sympathetically, when she describes her bewilderment and fright as she puzzles over the questions she is asked. Erika Rummel’s story is about a young woman who finds she is renting a room from a witch. Well, writers do like to find the unexpected, especially in their own back yard.
Susan Statham’s story “The Revenant”, delves into the feelings of a painter of portraits as she presents her work to the Gallery which commissioned it. Susan is a painter as well as a novelist.
Another piece, this time by Shane Joseph, novelist and short story writer, combines two strands of his life, writing and music, in his account of his close relationship with his guitar.
Another short memoir, not to be missed, is Cynthia Reyes’ “When Life Gives You Apples”. Cynthia has just released her picture book Myrtle the Purple Turtle to an enthusiastic public. “When Life Gives You Apples” tells of a time shortly after a car accident, of her determination to make apple jelly from the Wolfe River apples which grew on their property and of her feeling of triumph when her husband presented her with specially designed labels for 80 jars of jelly.
I would like to introduce you to more of the contents of Hill Spirits 111 but space is limited! There are many more treasures to be discovered therein. Hill Spirits 111 will be released by Blue Denim Press on November 4th as both as a paperback and an e-book. Look for it internationally on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.