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Crime, Conflict and Consequences by Heather Burnside

Short stories may seem like the easier option when embarking on a writing career, being less intimidating than a full length novel. However they are deceptively hard to do right. With fewer words an author has to introduce characters and establish their status quo to the reader, put them immediately in a situation of conflict, and resolve it all in only a few pages. They must be concise, but with enough detail to make you actually care about the solution. It takes real skill to do properly.

Luckily, this is something author Heather Burnside (@HeatherBwriter) has managed skillfully with her collection of short stories, Crime, Conflict and Consequences. Each one is a mini view into a different world, with characters, feelings and situations that are very real, and that can feel far too familiar. While all the stories fall in to different genres, there’s some crime, some romance and so on, but all have the common theme of ‘consequences’ and all have a twist! It’s amazing how Burnside can fit in an unexpected turn into such a short narrative without it feeling forced or unnatural. A couple of the stories are reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s short adult stories, with their slightly dark comical feel, and I can’t give higher praise than that! The predictable yet still amusing ‘Yes Dear’ and the quirky ‘Dishy Dave’ spring to mind here. Other stories, like ‘Reminiscing’ are absolutely heartbreaking, but all of the ten stories are guaranteed to elicit a response.

While the stories can’t be faulted for not coming to a satisfying conclusion each time, while reading them I couldn’t help craving just a little more fleshing out of some of the narrative. A couple of times, having got to know characters so quickly I was slightly frustrated to be leaving them so soon! I would have loved to have seen some more of the dysfunctional couple in ‘Yes Dear’ beyond their slightly two-dimensional day of pure conflict, to make that ending even more satisfactory!

Burnside has recently released a full novel A Gangster’s Grip, the second in her Riverhill Trilogy. If she can manage to evoke such gripping narrative in a few pages, imagine the tale she’ll be able to weave with multiple books. I think I’m going to have to clear out some time in my diary before being sucked in!

You can get a free e-copy of Crime, Conflict and Consequences here for signing up for Heather Burnside’s newsletters. It’s an exciting time for Burnside at the moment so it’s worth staying in the loop!

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