The things we find ourselves doing in relationships just to keep our heads above water. Our many failures at communication, wrong turns and convoluted pathways to sidestep the choices we know we ought to make, or to backtrack on the choices we made and now regret.
Quirky, sad, ironic, comical, tragic and triumphant – the human psyche laid bare, with no apologies. Once again, Lesley Hayes puts her finger on the pulse of what makes us tick, even if we cringe to recognise our romantic blunders. This new collection of twelve captivating short stories has echoes of previous anthologies, and reveals the lengths we will go to in simply trying our best to stay alive.
Staying Alive is available at
NOT LIKE OTHER PEOPLE
People who are not quite as they seem, relationships that turn out unexpectedly, individuals apparently unaware of their foibles and the fallout they create, unique characters who reveal the poignant mystery of human nature... Ten short stories that are windows into private worlds – evocative, funny, sometimes unexpectedly touching, and above all engaging the imagination and the heart...
Someone suggested that reading a short story was the perfect way to while away a fifteen minute window in a busy life, an opportunity to gaze out of said window into a blue sky of alternative experience, a daydream where someone else had created the scenario and the actors to strut across the stage of the dreamer’s imagination.
Well, that may be true.
As the writer of short fiction from a very early age, I believe it’s also more than that. Short stories seem to me rather like poems – they are snapshots of an event, a personality, an individual emotional landscape laid momentarily bare.
The best stories waft into the reader’s imagination somewhat like a dream, and depart the same way, leaving an imprint in their wake, a lingering aftertaste, a recollection that sometimes returns with a remembered phrase or a visual impression the words have evoked. They have a rhythm, a shape, a satisfying resolution, sometimes a sudden ‘aha’ moment, when the plot does a final arabesque-like twist that you realise you always knew was coming, even though it still surprises you.
As a writer I have always been deeply fascinated by the stories we tell one another, the vagaries of life and how we choose to define ourselves by our engagement with them. Long before I studied philosophy and psychology I was a natural philosopher and psychologist.
I grew up in a family where mere gossip was underpinned by a desire to understand, to analyse, to make sense of the behaviours and motivations of others. Life itself was a mystery, and I was always seeking to peep behind the curtain and discover what was hidden there.
The most intriguing curtain of all is the one that hides us from ourselves, that erects a smokescreen to disguise our deeper longings and beliefs...
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WITHOUT A SAFETY NET
This second compilation of short stories is edgier than the last. For those of you who enjoyed the dark humour in ‘Not Like Other People’ there is definitely an element of that, but there is also often a narrative arrow pointing you towards a truth about our human nature. Not all truths are comfortable, and some are decidedly not. I have used the overall title ‘Without a Safety Net’ with good reason. The people in these tales range widely in age and experience. What they have in common is standing at a turning point – one that may lead them into a new awareness, or plunge them into dangerous uncharted waters. Some take the reader on a journey into the remembered past, to a time that has resonance for the central character, while others demonstrate the complicated lives and relationships we weave in the here and now.
These are stories of dashed expectations, unexpected horizons, and sometimes doors closing without the comfort of knowing when or if another one will open. Not all outlooks are quite so bleak. The human spirit is indomitable, even in desperate situations. Our capacity for investing hope in the face of the impossible does us credit. I know how important stories are. They help us make sense of what we feel and think. They remind us that our ambivalence and complexity of emotions are familiar to everyone. They reassure us that however lonely we may feel, we are not alone.
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THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY
Here are ‘Not Like Other People’ and ‘Without a Safety Net’, published together in paperback for those readers who like their anthologies in traditional book form. You will find dark humour within these pages, but also a narrative arrow pointing towards truths about human nature. Some characters stand at a turning point leading to new awareness, or dangerous uncharted waters. Some demonstrate the intricacy of intimate relationships, revealing dashed expectations and surprising new horizons. The human spirit is indomitable, as is our capacity for investing hope. Stories help us make sense of what we feel and think, reminding us that our ambivalence and complexity of emotions are familiar to all. They reassure us that however lonely we may feel, we are not alone.
In the byzantine twists and turns of their fortunes, the people you meet here will be poignantly recognisable – not angels or monsters, but just like you.
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THE OSCAR DOSSIER
Who exactly is Oscar? He seems to be one thing for one person and something quite different for another. Is he a brilliant artistic genius or a mad, lovesick fool? And the women into whose lives he sweeps with his wild Genghis Khan looks and his courtly passion each have their own tales to tell. Be beguiled along with them as you enter the slightly surreal world they inhabit. And watch out for the Polish ranting parrot – he spits.
This delightful collection of four interlinked stories will amuse and intrigue you, and leave you wanting more. Luckily, Lesley Hayes has provided them. Two other collections are here on kindle, and more are yet to come.
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There is Dinah and her second husband Piers, facing the hidden truths of their marriage after 15 years. Then there is Dinah’s wayward son Kit, passionately involved with Poppy, whose husband Titus falls in love with her rather late in the day. And finally there is Lucy, who has given up on romantic love until Ben comes back into her life unexpectedly, determined to remind her. Their lives, and the lives of those they meet, interweave and overlap as intricately as ribbons in a traditional Oxfordshire Maypole dance.
As you might expect, if you have read my fiction previously, these stories don’t hold back from portraying honestly the subtleties and depth of human emotion and behaviour, seasoned lightly throughout with insight, empathy and humour.
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ALSO BY LESLEY HAYES
Copyright © 2015 Lesley Hayes. All rights reserved.