Sue, author of over 20 titles describes herself best
Ravelled and other stories is Sue’s first collection of short stories.
As Sue herself says:
I’ve read plenty of fine short stories in my life, including Chekhov’s, and remember being impressed by Kate Atkinson’s Not the End of the World, but although I have more than twenty novels in print, I might never have written a collection of my own without the intervention of Dr. Who!
While never a huge fan, I do remember from my childhood the black-and-white episodes with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart as back-up. When Candy Jar, publishers of my YA novel Thinner than Water, asked me to write a short story for a collection about the Brig, I was eventually won round by the premise of a first love story. Called In His Kiss, it took me into territory that was disconcertingly new, but proved enormous fun. This set me off exploring the short story: what it can and can’t do, whether there are rules and how different it is from the novel form. My research included Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro, along with the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize Anthology (from my Green publishers for Flashback and Purple and The Dreamer) which was released with helpful timing. After a blog post to clarify my thinking, I began writing, hoping I’d learned something from the greats.
Of course I wanted to attempt various kinds of story with a range of moods. There’s no sci-fi here and no crime either, but there are several styles as well as genres. You’ll find a kind of fable, originally a postscript to my YA alopecia novel Crazy Daise, and a fairy-tale variation on Beauty and the Beast with a nod to Jane Eyre, but the rest are very much real- world stories about relationships and feelings because for me there’s nothing more fascinating. I hope you’ll laugh, but also cry.
Listen to Sue talk about Ravelled and other Stories.
What people are saying about Ravelled and other stories
..Nine stories… create distinct worlds populated by credible and mostly sympathetic characters… lead rich inner lives that are vividly described. You might say these are tales about dealing with life’s challenges: grief, isolation, loss, prejudice etc… The stories and characters are equally interesting. Some themes recur: the need to be accepted for who we are, for example, and the vital importance of integrity in general. The quality of the writing is consistently high, occasionally breathtaking, and it reaches its peak in the penultimate tale, Included. – David Guest, editor, Berkhamsted Living
For the whole review: see page 38 – 39 at the top (actually age 34).
Sue Hampton’s cleverly written characters are a pleasure to spend time with and the twists in her story make for a fuzzy feeling of festiveness. – Elizabeth Parikh, teacher, Bedfordshire, UK
As always Sue Hampton grabs the attention of her audience … and makes us think. – Emma Skipper, PA, Burton-upon-Trent
Sue Hampton has done it again. With her sensitive and uncomplicated story-telling skills, she has transported me into the character’s world and left me thinking of delicious lines such as, ‘It’s poetry even while we struggle for words to recreate it’. Bravo! – Miriam Calleja, author of Pomegranate Heart, a book of poetry in Maltese and English.
Sue Hampton’s writing is sheer poetry. You can but fall under the spell of The Goddess who holds her bald head high. – Patricia Gerbaud, Alopécie France
RAVELLED is the work of a supremely talented humanist author with a keen eye for human nature. Her lovely prose carefully (and sometimes brutally) exposes the beating heart of every character without ever becoming prosaic or maudlin. This is painfully gorgeous writing, reminiscent of Michael Chabon’s best, early works, and I can’t recommend strongly enough that you try it for yourself, short-story enthusiasts. – Rick Cross, author
I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this wonderfully diverse, challenging, beautifully written and understated collection. Each story took me to a new place and every character came alive on the page. My favourite – in the sense that I am still thinking and smiling about its warmth – is Sid’s New Start. The gentleness of the characters, the quietness of the story, the delicate twist and the feeling of optimism and hope at the end …..that really got me. It’s a wonderfully written story with totally credible characters. – John MacKenna, playwright, novelist and poet, winner of the Hennessy Literary Award, the Irish Times Fiction Award and the C Day-Lewis Award
Ravelled: a marvel! Sue Hampton’s Ravelled is a classic set of short stories, but better. The author delivers the concise drama we expect from good short stories, but she drives the story line deep into the realm of the heart. The reader does not need a passport to visit the underworld, the heavens, the neighborhood, family members, and ghosts. The last time I remember following characters toward their most profound insights like this was in reading the late poetry of Dr. William Carlos Williams, who had seen everything, including the likeness of his dead father on a subway. Luckily we don’t have to die to see the spirit world. It’s right here, embodied, spoken plainly, spoken musically, in the diction, dialogue and action of Sue Hampton’s Ravelled. Be foolish not to say yes to this invitation to the human voyage!” – Marilyn Kallet, author of 17 books, including The Love That Moves Me, poetry from Black Widow Press, Professor at the University of Tennessee, USA
I’ve just returned from a brief holiday, and my reading material was Ravelled. Now this may sound bad on my part but just because I know you, you have a face, a body, a presence in my life on the streets of Berkhamsted (unlike James Joyce, Alice Munro etc.) I simply wasn’t prepared for how damn good your writing is! I found your insights and capture of people’s feelings, words, personalities and predicaments just absolutely wonderful in that under-stated yet sharply resonant way that only the best short story writers can express. You’re up there with the greats in my opinion. I’m so pleased to have read your work. Thank you for the courage it must have taken for you to write like this. – Philippa Jones, Herts, UK
This is a lovely collection of nine short stories by Sue Hampton. The style of writing can change with each new story and the tales themselves each have a different message to bring. The title story, ‘Ravelled’ and ‘Sky Lady’ both reminded me of my younger self and ‘The Boarder’ brought back the anguish of losing someone dear. The authors descriptive flair made me play out the stories in my mind and make me think how perfect they would be to convert to a television audience. ‘The Goddess’ and ‘The Brute and the Beast’ both had the ethereal qualities that make beautiful fairy tales for grown-ups. I have become a great fan of short story collections and this one by Sue Hampton did not disappoint. – Jackie Moore, Herts