The Starlings & Other Stories Murder Squad and Accomplices Crime Fiction Graffeg edited Ann Cleeves

For an author of novels, a short story is a challenge, a chance to try on something new, explore new angles and discover new characters.

Many months ago, Nicola, a Graffeg staff member was reading an Ann Cleeves novel. As she read, the photographs of David Wilson kept returning to her mind, their dark eeriness echoed in Ann’s narrative. Around that time, at a Christmas party, Nicola and Ann happened to meet. David’s photographs were mentioned and a book idea formed. Would Ann and her fellow Murder Squadders like to write a collection of short stories inspired by David’s photographs?

Never a group to shy from a challenge, Murder Squad accepted.

Each of the six members of Murder Squad invited along an accomplice to contribute a story, resulting in a collection of twelve tales of crime and mystery. Each author selected an image from David’s haunting black and white collection and was asked to write a short story between 3,000 – 8,000 words inspired by the photograph.

The resulting collection is The Starlings & Other Stories.

Several of the authors have written about their experience of writing for this book – thankfully they all seemed to rather enjoy! To read more:

What Are Short Stories For? by Margaret Murphy

Twelve Photographs in Search of an Author by Christine Poulson

Martin Edwards

A Picture Paints Two Thousand, Four Hundred and Sixty-Eight Words by Cath Staincliffe 

The Long and the Short of Stories by Valerie Laws

Christine Poulson

REVIEW “The range of stories is impressive, from twisty-turny thrillers  to little mysteries to haunting tales of more simple crimes to one out-and-out ghost story. And every one of them was a delight.”

REVIEW “Some of the stories will be more to your taste than others, as is only to be expected in such a varied anthology, but none are weak and if you enjoy crime short stories then this book could be a real treat.”

REVIEW “There is not a single story here that can be second-guessed, predicted or marginalised as each gives a true representation not only of the corresponding photographs with which the author was provided, but also a deep underlying understanding of what each location might contain and then throws the obligatory crime into the mix to add extra menace.” 

REVIEW “This is a wonderful idea to test the mettle of any writer: an anthology of stories based on landscape photography. Personally, I would find this task incredibly daunting, but the Murder Squad are not shy when it comes to a challenge. They are a group of battle-hardened, award-winning thriller writers who, together, make for a dangerous collection of frightening talented people.”

REVIEW: “Having varying styles of authors using different images as inspiration  is a win win in my opinion, so many different styles to get stuck into and new styles to enjoy with the added visual treat. The talent running through this is immeasurable, each style unique to the next. This is a truly stunning book and should be on all Crime readers shelves.”

REVIEW: “Though the stories are all impressively compact crime narratives, they have an unexpected result, at least for me: What I wanted to do after reading the book was keep returning to those photos, the way they captured desolation and betrayal and death. What a collection!”

Review: “A set of neatly-plotted and atmospherically-written traditional crime stories in a gift-quality edition. Highly recommended.”