When I was getting my master’s degree in creative writing (humble brag!), I did quite a bit of reading about writing as a craft. Some of these books tend to be on the dry side and don’t really account for the magic that writers can feel when they put something meaningful down on the page. That’s part of why I was so enthralled with this unique collection of short stories that focuses on how each piece was written. It was wonderful for a book to place an emphasis on the creativity and genius that can come from an as-yet undiscovered writer.
The setup of “Foreshadow” feels very inventive. Each short story (all YA-themed, most with a magical realism theme) is introduced by an already-established writer whose books we know well (like Emily X.R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma). The reader can then get absorbed in the fiction, each story as captivating as the last. After each piece comes an author’s note where the writer describes their inspiration for the story or shares some insight into their process. Then, one of the editors writes a short section about an element of the story that worked really well – such as the use of theme, tone, etc. I absolutely loved getting a peek at where the writer’s brain was when they wrote the story, as well as input into why each story was inherently successful. The book is a great combination of fiction and examination of writing as a craft.
I’m a huge fan of short stories, so I think this collection would have been inspiring to me even without the emphasis on the writing process. My favorites were the quirkier, more outside the box stories – especially the ones with a fairy-tale or monster motif. It’s a tribute to how great the writing is that I didn’t feel bored or turned off by any stories (a rarity in short story collections typically). It’s shocking to me that these writers haven’t written other books or been widely published – they’re so incredibly talented!
Of course, I was experiencing quite a bit of jealousy while reading these stories. As my fiction hasn’t been published anywhere (yet), I’m envious that these writers got their big break with this collection. However, I’m just as grateful to the editors for coming up with this creative concept and for allowing unknown writers to have their voices featured. It was a great reminder that it can sometimes take a lot of rejection and only one big yes to succeed as a writer. Reading these fantastic stories will hopefully just serve as inspiration for me (and for other writers) to keep putting pen to paper.
*Free ARC provided by Netgalley and Algonquin Young Readers in exchange for an honest review*