Review of ‘Backstories’ by Simon Van der Velde

This is an original and fascinating debut collection of short stories, all based on some of the most famous people in the world, with a particular focus on musicians and murderers. I really liked the concept. You’re invited to work out who the subject is. I think I got all of them, with the exception of two or three. The last lines are clever and worth waiting for! There are a variety of narrative styles, so each story feels fresh and authentic. They have obviously been well-researched, judging by the inclusion of contemporary details, but the facts are integrated so that the stories feel fictional, rather than a collection of biographical episodes. Many of them are events from the subjects’ childhood or teenage years and were pivotal moments in their careers. A very good read which gets you thinking.

Backstories will be published on 25th March by Smoke and Mirrors Press in print, audio and ebook formats. Thank you to the author for the review copy.

30% of the profits will be shared between Stop Hate UK, The North-East Autism Society and Friends of the Earth.

Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, labourer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as travelling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters and insights for his award-winning stories. Since completing a creative writing M.A. (with distinction) in 2010, Simon’s work has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards.

14 thoughts on “Review of ‘Backstories’ by Simon Van der Velde”

  1. Great review and I’m glad that you enjoyed the book! 🙂 Did you ever have answers in the back of your copy of who the people were who you didn’t guess? It’s still bothering me that I couldn’t get who is in the Banjo story, lol.

    1. Thanks! No, I don’t think there were answers in it! I can’t remember now which of them I didn’t guess. You could always ask the author I suppose if you are so bothered by it 😀

    1. Yes they are fictionalised imaginings of turning points in iconic characters’ lives – I suppose you could say historical fiction.

  2. This sounds like a great concept. I assume they reveal who it is about? Or do you have to live in ignorance if you can’t guess? Would love to read this one.

    1. It is a very good concept which I haven’t encountered before. No, the answers aren’t there (but I think the majority of readers will guess nearly all of them correctly).

    1. Oh yes, research is key – and it takes a talented writer to integrate that research while writing good fiction. Thanks!

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