This book is FASCINATING. It’s so quirky and different I couldn’t type ‘YES!’ fast enough when the author asked for book blogger support.
It will have you glued to the collection of stories contained within it AND it will have you playing detective to guess the famous person behind the backstory. For noting – these people are famous for a reason and it’s not just people who are talented or have strong views on a subject.
Here’s the 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.
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 whose mind you’ve been inhabiting for the last twenty minutes.
Here’s my review:
In my experience reading this book can be likened to the TV series; Quantum Leap. Some of you might be too young for this one and I might be showing my age here but think about the the TV programme where scientist Sam Beckett finds himself trapped in time and leaps into the body of a different person each week. As a child I was glued to this series. This book is like Quantum Leap in the sense you are jumping into a different person’s mind with each story and you never quite know whose life you will be living out.
I can’t imagine the amount of research this author has undertaken to produce these backstories from musicians, political activists, artists and murderers.
Each backstory draws you into that person’s world. The stories are rich in detail and are beautifully crafted. With some backstories the author sprinkles a few crumbs about who is behind the backstory and on some the author slam dunks you in the final sentences. There’s one in particular which I won’t mention as I don’t want to give the game away but it left me in shock when I realised who was telling their backstory.
The author covers many difficult topics such as racism, violence and bullying. Some backstories are both an uncomfortable and thought provoking read.
I have read some stories a few times now as it’s quite enjoyable going back over them once you know whose head you are inside.
Backstories is published by Smoke & Mirrors Press on 25th March 2021 and is available for purchase here.
This bit is also great. 30% of all profits from the sale of Backstories will be shared between Stop Hate UK, The North East Autism Society and Friends of the Earth.
My thanks to Simon for providing a copy of Backstories in return for an honest review. I’m delighted to share this review today.
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.