Northland, New Zealand

New short story collection: now over to the editors

Whew! I’ve just completed the latest draft of True? which will be my fifth short story collection, after the success of LowLife which was released in 2018. 

True? will almost certainly be self-published because virtually no NZ publishing houses have an interest in publishing short stories. We know this because they explicitly state it on their websites. Take RandomPenguin, for example:no short stories

Getting a short story collection perfect involves proofreading, editing, reading aloud, reading silently, asking for reviews and feedback, eating shit sandwiches and a lot of late nights and cellphone notes and emails to myself. Back in the day when I completed a Masters in Creative Writing, we were told stories might need ten drafts before they were presentable. 

Ten drafts when writing a short story, you say – that’s a hell of a lot of work. Isn’t there an easier way?

Nah. There is no easy way. You have to do ten drafts across ten months. Layers of drafting will improve the following ten aspects, not necessarily in this order:

  • Voice consistency
  • Narrative flow
  • Dialogue flow
  • Characterisation
  • Spelling and typos
  • Fact-checking and plausibility
  • Jargon
  • Geography, and matching the story to the geography of the audience
  • Overall length
  • Length of sections
  • …And don’t forget the title. A good title needs to come from within the story – it shouldn’t just be a sticker slapped on top of the story.

So yeah, nah: True? by Michael Botur is 16 short stories, due out later this year. I’ll have a launch, I’ll tour it, and I’ll pimp no more than 100 copies ’cause I can’t afford to print any more than that. Luckily I have a supportive audience to help balance the budget. 

True? stories: sneak peek

1. Don’t Tell Mum

A dad and son are on a road trip across Australia which should help to detox dad – except, Dad’s struggling to get off drugs, the trip has reached a dead end, and things are happening Mum definitely does not need to know.

2. Summer School

A trio of students are stranded together when the city empties out over summer.

3. Better Than Jail

A violent jailbird struggles to go straight in a cold corporate country.

4. The People’s Choice

The story of how our literary society reacted when one us was thrust into the spotlight, leaving the rest of us in the dark.

5. Because I Love Him

Love, obsession and dependence on people and pipes in the grimy drug underworld.

6. Schrödinger’s Scoop

A hotshot reporter is confronted with the biggest story of his career – but he’s damned if he publishes it and damned if he doesn’t.

7. Cuffed As Fuck

A young hoodlum tries to finish his community service while his partner is at home pregnant. When he gets a chance to leave his family and escape into a dream relationship, should he run from responsibility or keep the cuffs on?

8. The Sword of Damocles

An abusive boss, wife and burglars all take advantage of me – that is until I discover certain power I can hold over them. Now the tables are turned – and I’m going to make the most of it.

9. Truth Or Dare

Their children having moved out, Bill and Frances download a risqué app on their phones which could rejuvenate their sex life – or wreck their reputation.

10. Kiss You While You Sleep

Medical student Mya and her man love getting high on any drugs they can access – especially anaesthetics. The problem is anaesthesia may make their hearts stop – but Mya never will.

11. Dumped After Decades

When 60 year old Sallyanne suddenly finds herself dumped after decades of marriage, she looks at how much life she has left and makes a hard decision about whether to move onwards or inwards. 

12. Mengistu

I’m a good boy in trouble for some bad mistakes. I’m forced to tutor refugees. I’m expected to make my pupils forget war-torn Africa. Instead, violence reaches across the world and I start dabbling in darkness.

13. Staycation

Poor and depressed, the only place we could afford to holiday was among the memories in our heads. But the deeper inside our brains we went, the less we wanted to come back.

14. Underground

Go underground and you get exclusive access to the hippest parties and the coolest celebs– so what’s the point of ever surfacing?

15. Cloud Nine

Before Carl and Lydia experienced heart failure and collapsed under palm leaves in a black tropical cloud made of searing, slapping cold raindrops 1400 metres up a muddy volcano, they met, forgot about each other, then years later fell into each other’s orbit.

16. That Tingling Sensation

One’s a failed businessman. One’s a gigolo. One’s geriatric. One has the body of a bull – and the brain. Meet the world’s most unlikely children’s entertainment troupe. Oh – and they’re former strippers, too. 

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