Here at the Conclave we talked to Carol Ferro, known as the Short Story Lady, about her work and her stories.
Thankyou for being here, Carol. Now, to start with, you call yourself the ‘Short Story Lady’. What does that mean?
I love short stories, be they traditional fairytales or snippets of observational prose. I am also only 5 feet tall, so the name ‘Short Story Lady’ is a dangling modifier, as both the stories and the storyteller are short!
Very clever! I do like plays on language like that. Let’s hear more about your work. Tell us about your book “Memoirs of a Madcap Cyclist”. What made you write a full-length book? Do you see it as a departure from your short story work, or its progression?
“Memoirs of a Madcap Cyclist” is a collection of 100 stories, each exactly 100 words long, all on the topic of cycling. I wrote it because I wanted to combine my love of cycling with my tendency to narrate my life. Most of the stories are based on things I noticed while out on my bike, memories of childhood cycling, and tales collected from my cyclist friends. It’s very much a progression of my short story work, taking the short story genre to its logical conclusion. I enjoyed working to an exact word count, it was interesting making each word matter in each story.
100 times 100 words! How intriguing. What do you hope readers will take from it?
I hope readers will find the book fascinating, entertaining and edifying in equal measure. All aspects of cycling are in there, from balance bikes to racing trikes, green lights to green tarmac, there’s something in there for everyone. It’s a window into my cycling experience, and while I might not be the fastest cyclist on the road, I definitely have fun on the bike.
It sounds like fun! Did you choose to go with a traditional publisher?
I actually teamed up with another local storyteller called Sharon Richards, who wanted to move into publishing. She set up her own publishing company and I wrote its first title, “Drabble Folk and Fairytales” to get the ball rolling. It was a steep learning curve for both of us, but having self-published my first book as an ebook gave me the confidence to make the move into print. I formatted several books for Sharon, getting far more “hands-on” than I would have been able to with a larger or more established publisher.
The publishing sounds like an adventure in itself. Quite a daunting prospect! I am glad to see it hasn’t put you off. Tell us about other work you have written.
My first book is a self-published Young Adult novella called “The Strangeling’s Tale”. Each chapter is a self-contained story which weaves into a larger tale, reaching a gripping conclusion. Transformation, love, loss, bravery and sacrifice abound in this gem of a book.
My Second book, “Drabble Folk and Fairy Tales”, contains all the fairytales you’ll remember from childhood, a few you won’t have heard of and a few I made up myself. A Drabble is a story containing exactly 100 words, and this book has 100 of them.
Another 100 times 100! I spot a recurring theme here. What is your next project? What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on a prequel to “The Strangeling’s Tale”, but I keep getting distracted by storytelling bookings at schools, libraries and events. It’s tough being in such demand, but I can’t let my public down! My next big project is an event at local libraries to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth. I’m in charge of co-ordinating all the storytelling, craft activities, quizzes and costumes, and chasing ever elusive funding streams. Still, if it’s anything like as popular as my previous library events, the libraries will be buzzing with activity.
I must say that sounds like a lot of fun and I wish you every success with it. Thankyou for sharing your story with us.
Carol’s work is available here
And you can find out more about her life as the Short Story Lady here