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Pat Jourdan


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Website: PatJourdan.co.uk

Pat Jourdan grew up in Liverpool and has lived in Ireland for several years. Trained as a painter at Liverpool College of Art, she has had several exhibitions in both countries. Her paintings feature on the covers of her books, as well as those of Orbis, Crannog and Microbe.

Short Story Collections

Rainy Pavements
Exposure Publishing, 2008

Reviewed by Sarah Hilary

 Interview with Pat Jourdan 

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

Pat Jourdan: Rainy Pavements is taken from about three years'worth of writings.

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

PJ: Some of the stories nestled together(Afternoon Tea, Coronation Trifle) and others, like April Evening and Homeland Security, stood out on their own. So I put them together thinking of the assortment in a box of chocolates - 19 in this particular box.

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

PJ: They went in alphabetical order because I did not know how to change the file! I chose three types - the past, the present and the imagined/invented. Also I tried to balance moods,the play of emotions - one of each - tense, silly, nostalgic,speculative and so on. There is a heap of discarded stories - the ones chosen were the sharper ones that were self-contained enough to stand up on their own. It's like sending children off to school on their first day, out into the big world.

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

PJ:  Story means "food-parcel." It satisfies a hunger for more than you already have, for more than you can ever have the opportunity to experience. Such a wonderful feeling comes after reading,(if it's good), a fulfilment. It is life taken in segments and made distinct, either made more jagged or smoothed out. And, sometimes, there's a new use of old words, a different expression, a brand new bit of vocabulary to relish.

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

PJ:  I saw a young man reading a book on the London Underground, really intent, letting stations dash by him. The reader is someone who needs something, they are curious, searching; whatever age or type, they want to explore.

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

PJ: Did it make sense? Did you feel you were there too, even if you disagreed with what happened? Will you keep it and read it again, lend to a friend?

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

PJ: It feels like someone is rooting round the house, opening drawers, looking for something, like a trainee burglar who you become fond of.Then they find your diary.

TSR: What are you working on now?

PJ: Several short stories (in various states of undress), a novella and a meandering Irish assemblage of short stories which have stuck together. There's also poems that need to be gone over with tweezers and five oil-paintings for an exhibition in June...

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

PJSurprisingly,because I don't go in for anything Sci-fi or Gothic, Stephen King, Night Shift - he introduces the unusual deftly, until the horror emerges (which is always the same). Brokeback Mountain, Annie Proulx: The details are palpable, you are there as much as he characters are. Most people would have to take drugs to notice so much, and read dictionaries non-stop to have her range of vocabulary. The Garden Party, Katherine Mansfield. Complications always beneath the ultra-smooth surface -where not much appears to be going on.It all hits you afterwards as you cross the room. Deadly. Also, I was given the New Granta Book of the American Short Story, weighing over a kilo. What stood out was ZZ.Packer's The Ant of the Self, which gives sense and nonsense a coherent home. We had a copy of Nineteenth Century American Short Stories at home long ago and my first remembered short story was The Outcasts of Poker Flat, equally bizarre and yet making true sense.