We first published Jesse in one of our early collections and she’s followed our progress ever since. I was delighted when she approached us to consider her collection of short stories.
I generally take the view that if we’ve published one or more stories by an author we’ve already established that their work is fundamentally good and that we can work with them. I wasn’t disappointed.
Jesse’s collection here is superb. There is a very strong voice in each piece and indeed an equally strong sense of place – and time as well. I was certainly transported to Germany - a place I know well as I used to teach German and I’ve spent quite a bit of time there. But I haven’t been there for some time. It was good to be reminded.
Jesse’s English is very good indeed but nevertheless there were one or two oddities here and there. The upside of this is that sometimes these brought a freshness to the language.
This is something I’ve noted in my work on creative writing in other languages. If you have a reasonable command of another language writing in it can be a liberation You write with more restriction and become more creative. What is a cliché in your own language can be very effective in your second language. You tend to write more simply anyway. Less becomes more.
Not that Jesse was conducting any sort of experiment here. There are many other reasons why someone who is not English might want to write in English.
We did debate whether to use UK English or American English. What should a Euorpean use? In the end we settled for a modified American English. It worked.
A Place to Be is one of our more literary titles.
It has been a pleasure working on this collection.