Susan Howe started writing fiction about ten years ago with a novel based on some bizarre happenings in her village. She sat down and wrote it with hardly a pause until at 88,000 words, it was complete. Then she joined a peer-review site and realised that writing well was much harder than she thought! Her next story was a short, and the next, and the next. She now regards herself as a writer of short fiction who once wrote a novel.
Susan’s first success was with her fourth or fifth story, The Beast Next Door. Having topped the charts of You Write On for a month, it also won Circalit’s Story of the Month and went on to be Ether Books’ most downloaded story, for which she received an award. Most excitingly, it was picked up from Circalit by a film director who spent the next eighteen months adapting the story to screenplay and making a short feature film, which was screened in New York in June.
Most of Susan’s stories spring from personal experiences and many of her characters are based on real people. She uses fiction to explore relationships and events that made a deep impression, even though they may have taken place several decades ago. The Special Years (downloadable on the free Ether App) is based on a childhood friendship and Footprints on something that happened while at Art College, living in the red light district of Coventry. One is tragedy, the other dark comedy/crime. The Strid, which draws on childhood fears of a Yorkshire landmark, gets hundreds of hits a month on her blog because, according to cracked.com, it is the third place in the world most likely to kill you. She is currently writing a series of shorts based around The Strid.
Susan’s favourite format is flash fiction and she has had several successes in competitions, most notably in winning Flash500 twice, with several other placings, and every one of her two entries a quarter (so far) has been shortlisted. She was also shortlisted in the 2014 Fish Flash Fiction competition and her work features in several flash and short story anthologies. She was one of three writers of Triclops, a collection of forty short stories, and a major contributer to Hand-Knitted Electricity and other linguistic absurdities, for which she apologises.
Susan is a selecting editor for National Flash Fiction Day’s FlashFlood and curates Readwave’s Literary Fiction category, where she spends much of her time giving editorial feedback to new (and more experienced) writers, helping them to develop their stories to the best advantage. Enjoyable and absorbing though this is, she finds it cuts deeply into her own writing time and is often frustrated when competition deadlines whizz past without her submission.
Living in rural Herefordshire with her husband, son and pets, Susan works as a graphic designer/copywriter and dances Lindy Hop and Balboa for exercise and relaxation. She thinks her life is pretty great!
A Wish for Christmas – 20 Stories for the Holiday Season
Enjoy the festive season with a little cheer from Alfie Dog Fiction. Put your feet up and revel in all that is best of Christmas and New Year with 20 stories from authors across the globe. Stories range from the moving to the amusing, the romantic to the tussle of family life.
Add a little sparkle to your Christmas with A Wish for Christmas
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Annie’s Angel – Susan Howe
1900 words Children 3 - 7 years
Annie was thrilled with her new angel, but the little doll wasn't happy at all.
Annie’s tummy bubbled and fizzed with Christmas fever as she stood behind the thick living room curtains, watching her father struggle through the snow with an enormous tree under one arm and a long red box under the other. ‘Oooh, I can’t wait,’ she whispered, and her breath made little patches of mist on the glass as she hopped from one foot to the other. Each day was more thrilling than the last as Christmas approached. There were cakes to ice, puddings to stir and presents to wrap, and Annie had a special job that nobody else could do.
Footprints – Susan Howe
4500 words Mystery
Who can you turn to when the law is on the wrong side?
I haven’t done this for a long time. Not since Ma died. She got upset so I promised not to do it again, but she’s gone now. What she can’t see won’t hurt her and I’ll be really careful. This time no one will know except me. I’ve been watching the house from my room across the road. I’ve seen them come and go, the tall girl with bouncy red curls like shiny new chestnuts, the smaller one with long golden hair and a coat that almost touches the ground and the tiny little guy who looks like one of Ma’s garden gnomes, but without the fishing rod.
Never Too Late – Susan Howe
4500 words Women's Fiction
Trapped in a difficult marriage, Dilly turns to systems for comfort. A new friendship helps to rebuild her confidence and changes the course of her life.
“Anally retentive indeed!” She grabbed the wrong sort of clothes peg in her fury. “Who does he think he’s calling anally retentive?” Dilly wasn’t exactly sure what it meant, but she knew it wasn’t a compliment. She jammed the peg down onto the shoulder of Ray’s vest as if she were plunging it into his flesh. She replayed his voice in her head, picturing his sly sideways look and that nasty twitch of a smile. “I only did it to help.”
The Seventh Christmas – Susan Howe
4900 words Women's Fiction
What right did I have to my daughter's forgiveness? As the seventh Christmas without her approached, at least I still had a loving son. But did I deserve him?
This story is included in the collection A Wish for Christmas
My daughter’s Christmas card has pride of place in the centre of the mantelpiece, surrounded by a sumptuous fir and pine cone garland. I pick it up for the umpteenth time today and study the picture for a hidden message; something only I might see. It’s a photograph of a robin standing on the handle of a snow-topped shovel. She knows I’m fond of robins. Is it a sign that she’s softening towards me? My heart flutters and I take a deep breath. I open the card and run my fingers lightly over the signature. I close my eyes, the better to concentrate, half-believing that the ink will rise beneath my touch, and I will conjure a living image of my beautiful girl.