Mastodon The Writing Desk: Special Guest Post: Kindred Spirits: Ephemera, by Jennifer C Wilson

10 May 2020

Special Guest Post: Kindred Spirits: Ephemera, by Jennifer C Wilson

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

In this collection of stories, we follow kings and queens as they make important (and history-defying) visits, watch a football game featuring the foulest of fouls, and meet a host of new spirits-in-residence across the British Isles and beyond.

Kindred Spirits: Ephemera – Can a short story collection be greater than the sum of its parts?
I’m really excited to be talking about Kindred Spirits: Ephemera, my first collection of short stories, set in the world of Kindred Spirits, where the ghosts of historical characters haunt contemporary settings. The concept has been bubbling away in my mind for a couple of years, since just after I had written Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, whilst on holiday in Paris with my parents. I’d recently seen a play about the famous lovers and letter-writers, Abelard and Héloïse, who are buried in Paris’ Père Lachaise cemetery, so we went to find their tomb. I couldn’t help but start to think what their ghosts might have to say about their surroundings, and neighbours… A year later, sat in the Eurostar departure lounge to head back to Paris, I sat and wrote the first draft of their short story, but as I knew it would never be enough to expand into a full novel, I filed it away and left it in the proverbial drawer.

And this kept happening… Visiting St Paul’s, I couldn’t help but read the graves and think “I wonder how they would get on.” All this time, I was working happily on the other novels, and didn’t put too much further thought into the short stories, until I got involved in three projects which called for short stories: two charity anthologies, and one online collection for a Christmas project. I realised that a couple of the short stories which had been buzzing around my brain would fit the briefs perfectly, and so Leicester, Hampton Court Palace and a return to the Tower got plotted out and written up. Having put so much effort into three of them, I decided I might as well keep going!

The thing I’ve enjoyed most about writing the shorts has been the opportunity to explore people, places or situations which I was intrigued by, but which I also knew, as with Abelard and Héloïse, wouldn’t justify a novel to themselves. Rather than ignoring the ideas which popped up then, I actively began looking for them, and the first result has been Kindred Spirits: Ephemera. It’s been an absolute delight going ‘back’ to some places, such as the Tower, and York, hanging out with some old friends, and of course, meeting new ones too. I’m also aware that whenever I’ve talked about potential new locations for a Kindred Spirits story, Windsor Castle has been mentioned by readers more frequently than most, and having managed to visit the castle almost a decade ago, it was great to finally bring that into some of my fiction too.
I’m really hoping that readers will be glad to see some of the more popular spirits from the novels coming back and featuring more prominently. Certainly, it was good fun exploring some challenging relationships between a certain group of six wives, on a visit to Hampton Court Palace, and travelling on more journeys with Richard III (of course!). That variety of people and places does, I hope, help keep the pace of the collection up, keeping readers turning the pages, looking forward to who might be coming along in the next story. There’s at least one surprise in there that I’m hoping readers will welcome, in terms of a future book idea too.
There was some difficulty in choosing the stories which fitted well together, and sorting out which order they should go in, to keep that pace flowing. When I was writing them, I didn’t give much thought to their structure, in terms of coming together as a collection, but realised as I was collating them that there were a couple of internal references which made no sense if the stories went in the wrong order, and equally, with having written some of the stories before the novels, there was an issue with some events in the Kindred Spirits ‘world’ being referred to out of sync. This therefore required a bit of tweaking, as well as thinking about what made logical sense. For example, having the journey on Eurostar taking place before events in the Parisian cemetery seemed a sensible way of setting them out, as pointed out by my editor. I was also aware of trying to spread out the stories which featured the same characters (back to Richard there…), as well as those stories of differing tones, keeping the flow of lighter and darker stories working, and hopefully not boring the readers with too many stories featuring the same group, too close together.
Happily, I think it’s come together quite nicely, and if I’m honest, I think I’m even more keen to hear what people think about these stories than some of the novels, given that it’s something entirely different for me. I already have an idea for another collection, heading north of the border and into Scotland this time, but a lot will depend on whether people think the collection concept works. Now I feel I understand more about the process, I will be able to plan the selection of characters, locations and ‘feel’ to the stories from the beginning, rather than writing into the wind, and fixing the problems at the end.
I thoroughly enjoyed writing the collection, so here’s hoping people thoroughly enjoy reading it!
Jennifer C Wilson 
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Jennifer C. Wilson stalks dead people (usually monarchs, mostly Mary Queen of Scots and Richard III). Inspired by childhood visits to as many castles and historical sites her parents could find, and losing herself in their stories (not to mention quote often the castles themselves!), at least now her daydreams make it onto the page. After returning to the north-east of England for work, she joined a creative writing class, and has been filling notebooks ever since. Jennifer won North Tyneside Libraries’ Story Tyne short story competition in 2014, and in 2015, her debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London was published by Crooked Cat Books. The full series was re-released by Darkstroke in January 2020.  Jennifer is a founder and host of the award-winning North Tyneside Writers’ Circle, and has been running writing workshops in North Tyneside since 2015. She also publishes historical fiction novels with Ocelot Press. She lives in Whitley Bay, and is very proud of her two-inch view of the North Sea. Find our more at Jennifer's blog: and follow her on Facebook and  Twitter @inkjunkie1984

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