A former language teacher, pilot and rock guitarist, David Ayres claims to be influenced by Flaubert, Thomas Mann, H G Wells and Thomas Hardy. He lives in Lichfield, Staffordshire. He has published several novels, including, The Called and the Chosen (Lichfield Press) and A Minor Relationship (Minerva Press).

Short Story Collections

Top of the Sixties
(Holland Park Press, 2011)

reviewed by Sue Haigh

Interview with David Ayres

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

David Ayres: The whole project, Top of the Sixties, took in the region of eighteen months. This involved quite a determined and concentrated effort and most of the work was done while I was living in Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands.

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

DA: Yes, I did. It was my partner’s idea to put down the memories of that decade, because I talked so much about those days and the short story anthology is the perfect format for busy people, rather than the inch-thick novel which doesn’t split easily into manageable sections. I also find that many of the most memorable works I’ve read have been short stories.

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

DA: I was very lucky to be given a lot of guidance in this task by my publisher, Bernadette Jansen op de Haar of Holland Park Press. One of my characters, Keith Golder, appears in three stories, one at the beginning, one in the middle and one at the end. This has the effect of giving structure and continuity. As Bernadette herself said, these stories will stand alone in any case, so that the order is not of critical importance.

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

DA: In my stories somebody changes, they change their ways or their attitude or, if they fail to change, something usually happens to them. For example, my character Keith Golder begins to understand what really makes people tick. In Baz to the Slaughter Barry asks himself where and what the soul is and concludes that it might not exist. In Wetton Mill John discovers what friendship is really about. A short story is not just a sequence of events, first this happened, then that happened. It’s really about some sort of change taking place and a character achieving enlightenment.

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

DA:  Rather than having an image of a reader in my mind, I tend to think about how the story would sound when read aloud or when produced in a visual form. What drives me to write is the idea of being read by others and of allowing them to see inside my head and to appreciate my personal ‘take’ on the world.

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

DA: Yes! I would ask, will you read other work that I’ve produced and would you read more of my short stories, if they were published?

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

DA: It’s not the buying, it’s the reading. For me, the process of serious writing is not complete until someone picks it up and reads it. It’s to do with the ‘therapy’ of having someone understand what you’re trying to say to them. Writing is like trying to talk to someone through a plate glass window.

TSR: What are you working on now?

DA:  I still have enough material for two further anthologies of short stories, one of which I think of as The Canaries Collection, because each story is set on one of the Canary Islands, which were my home for several years. The remainder are simply contemporary short stories. The writing process continues every day.

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

DA:  The short stories of Guy de Maupassant, anything by W. Somerset Maugham or D. H. Lawrence.
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Find out what other authors, from Aimee Bender to Sana Krasikov, said about their collections, what the word "story" means to them, and how it feels to know that people are buying your books! More interviews >>>