Nik Perring lives in Cheshire. His work been published widely, in the UK and abroad. He is author of the children’s book I Met A Roman Last Night What Did You Do

Short Story Collections

Book Title
(Publisher, Date)

reviewed by Melissa Lee-Houghton

Interview with Nik Perring

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?

Nik Perring: The oldest one in there, ‘Seconds Are Ticking By’ was written, if memory serves, at some point in 2007, but the majority of the stories in Not So Perfect were written over the last eighteen months.

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

NP: No. Absolutely not. I’d always hoped that I’d be lucky enough to have a collection of short stories published one day, but when I’m writing (or when I wrote them) I concentrated on the individual stories, on making them the best they could be individually. I’m very happy with the way they fit together and work as a collection, but I think that’s probably more down to luck than any conscious planning on my part. I’m not particularly good at planning.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

NP:  Good question! Mostly, again, by luck/intuition. We (my publisher, Roast Books and I) knew which story the collection would begin with and which one would go at the end pretty early on. After that it was a case of printing them off and seeing how they fitted together. There wasn’t all that much swapping around after the initial experiments. And the ones we included were, I like to think, my best ones. In fact, I think from the ones I sent initially, only two didn’t make the final cut because they didn’t quite fit.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

NP:   A story is a moment, or series of moments, told. It’s a beautiful, affecting and important thing that should stay with a reader long after it’s ended. If it’s done well it’s something that changes you in some way. It’s a precious, fragile and incredibly strong thing.

TSR: Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?

NP:  I don’t think so, but I don’t think I’d be being honest if I said I didn’t keep The Reader in mind while I wrote. I think my job, as a writer, is to tell the stories in the way they should best be told and I think if I can do that well, or to a standard I’m happy with, then I can be happy. A good story, told well, has a very good chance of finding an audience.

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?

NP: Ha! I don’t know! I guess I’d be curious to know which stories they liked the best and why. As long as they enjoyed it then that’s more than good enough for me.

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?

NP: Brilliant, terrifying and occasionally over-whelming. I must say though that I’ve been incredibly lucky in that the general reaction to Not So Perfect has been utterly, and unexpectedly, terrific. I love that people have got it and I thank them all very, very much.

TSR: What are you working on now?

NP:  Actually, I’ve not been writing at all over the past couple of months. I made the decision to stop so I could a) have a break (I’d not had one in a few years) and b) so I could concentrate on promoting Not So Perfect without feeling guilty for neglecting my writing. That’ll change soon though. I’m starting to really miss it!

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

NP:  Reading’s also taken a back seat since the book’s come out. Let me see... I re-read Etgar Keret’s brilliant Missing Kissinger and Mary Miller’s Big World. And I read, for the first time, Chekhov’s The Exclamation Mark. I’d recommend them all highly. And I should say thank you to The Short Review because it was your review of Big World that encouraged me to buy it.
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