Salley Vickers is the author of six novels, including Miss Garnet's Angel.

Short Story Collections

Aphrodite's Hat
(Fourth Estate, 2011)

reviewed by Pauline Masurel

Interview with Salley Vickers

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

Salley Vickers: They were written over the ten year period I have been writing novels – some arising as I finished a novel, with material that somehow did not get used in the process of that novel, some written for commission. But over half just because and idea too me. Short stories are a chance to play and experiment which longer forms make less easy.

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

SV: No. But I found that I had a number of stories on the theme of love – not necessarily romantic love but versions of love. And I had the title story which centres around the marvellous Cranach the Elder painting in the London National Gallery of a naked Aphrodite. So that is how the collection came together, under her slightly disturbing aegis.

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

SV: I think I have answered that above. As to order, a number of the stories had a seasonal element or theme so I grouped them into a roughly seasonal cycle, beginning with just before Christmas and ending with Keats’s autumn, "season of mists and mellow fruifulness."

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

SV: A gripping account of reality which proves realer than the so-called "real world".

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

SV: I suppose I do. Someone not unlike myself, who likes understatement, wit and clear prose; a sense that life is not a black and white affair but composed of many subtle shades. Someone who is not moralising but interested in moral values. Someone who relishes art and is not frightened of culture. And someone who does no believe that man (or woman) is the measure of all things but that the world is a more mysterious place than our limited rational minds can fathom.

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

SV:  Did you "get" them?

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

SV: What could be more exciting and flattering?

TSR: What are you working on now?

SV: The film script for my first novel, Miss Garnet’s Angel.

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

SV: Lydia Davis’s clever Collected Stories, Dalmon Galgut’s In a Strange Room, Colm Toibin’s The Empty Family
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