“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Six words, powerfully evocative, & believed to have been written by Ernest Hemingway to win a bet.
They were the inspiration for this collection of fantastic flash fiction; compiled & edited by author Hache L. Jones. Her challenge went out: write a story of no more than 500 words explaining why a pair of unworn baby shoes were up for sale.
The resulting influx of stories, 191 of them by 85 writers based in 13 countries is astonishing. They’ll make you think, cry, and laugh in equal measure.
KGHH Publishing would like to thank the wonderful Lori Depp for the foreword, the fantastic writers who have produced some amazing works and last, but not least, Hache L. Jones without whom this project would not have been possible.
All royalties from sales of this book are to be donated to Make-A-Wish® UK Charity Registration Nos. (England & Wales) 295672 / (Scotland) SC037479
We would like to thank all the writers for all their fantastic work, Lori Depp, not only for her story but a wondeful foreword.
A big thanks to author Hache L. Jones for her compiling and editing of this wonderful inspiring book. To find out more about the book and how it was conceived and compiled we got Kensington Gore to interview Hache L. Jones.
KG: Hache thank you for fitting me into your busy schedule. What exactly is "For sale: Baby shoes, never worn?" And what inspired you to do it in the first place?
HJ: Thanks for inviting me. "For sale: Baby shoes, never worn" is a collection of flash fiction based on six words largely believed to have been penned by Ernest Hemingway. Each story is no longer than 500 words (though the shortest, believe it or not, is just two) and the stories were collected from writers across the globe.
KG: How many writers exactly and how far afield do they come from?
HJ: All together there are eighty-five writers from thirteen countries. Some might think that’s cheating since I counted England, Scotland and Wales as three, but still ... As for how far spread they are – we have contributions from five continents: Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe and North America.
KG: Not cheating as such, just forward thinking the way things are going after bloody Brexit. They are such varied stories. I was lucky enough to read an advance copy. They made me laugh, cry, think about life & so much more. I have to admit I thought they'd all be about, well, loss. Did they just come in that way or did you brief the writers not to write just about the obvious say?
HJ: Well, I did make a point of saying that, while the first thing that springs to mind when you read those words is tragedy, give some thought as to whether they might invoke some different emotions. I was, of course, more than happy to receive any well written sad story but the challenge was to think beyond sad and see what else that sentence might mean.
KG: Not only is this a great book and a fascinating read all royalties are going to charity, the Make-A-Wish foundation, who do some amazing work. What made you think and want to donate to them?
HJ: To be honest, it was a pragmatic choice. I couldn’t possibly contemplate making any money from it myself since the book was written by others and I felt that the charity should be one connected in some way to children, given the nature of the collection. Make-A-Wish do some fantastic work and, when I approached them, they couldn’t have been more enthusiastic and more helpful. I would have liked to donate to the international arm of the charity since our authors come from far and wide but from a practical point of view it was far easier to choose one location. The majority of writers are from the UK – so Make-A-Wish, UK it is.
KG: A good choice and a worthy charity. Now you've got a lovely foreword and a story even in the collection by Johnny Depp's ex-wife Lori Depp. How did she get involved and want to write a story too?
HJ: I already knew Lori before the project began. She is a professional make-up artist and had, the year before, produced her own range of lip glosses. I bought several of them and she was a tremendous help – offering professional advice on application and so on. We started to correspond on a regular basis and found that, despite our differences in upbringing, we had a lot in common and share a very similar sense of humour as well as political views. When the project began, I told her about it and she jumped at the possibility of writing a story for the book. She’s a really good writer, though too modest to say so, and her story is quirky and such a good read. I loved it. She is intending to write her autobiography and has made a really good start on it. I’ve been very privileged to have read extracts from it and I’m trying to encourage her to press on with it. It’s definitely a best-seller in the making.
KG: It's a lovely, simple, but touching cover, who did that cover? And I've been told to ask you "are they your shoes?"
HJ: Ah – the immensely talented Graeme Parker designed the cover completely free of charge – for which I’m very grateful. I love it – it’s simple, but so dramatic! That little piece of scrap paper with the words “For sale, never worn” written on it by hand is sheer genius. Are they my shoes? Who asked you that? It must be someone who knows me, haha. My feet are a mere UK size 2 so, although tiny, they don’t quite fit into these particular shoes. I do, on the other hand, have a pair of slightly bigger ones that are almost identical – and I have a photo to prove it!
KG: It's a beautiful book, do you have any personal favourites? Apart from the great ones you've written of course?
HJ: Oh dear. A favourite – now there’s a difficult question. I probably have favourites in each category of story rather than one outright winner. In the ‘sad’ category I do have one favourite – I won’t tell you which one to save the author any embarrassment – but I happen to know that it’s based on true events and that writing it enabled the author and his or her family to come to terms with their loss. That makes me cry every time. Other than that, I love the ones with ingenuity and the really funny ones – some of them are a scream.
KG: Think goes to show there is humour even in the darkest stories. Did the book take a lot of time compiling & editing? What was the hardest part of that process?
HJ: Oh yes! A year. It was an ever evolving process and the book went through several iterations before I finally landed on the best way to present it and lay it out. I think the most difficult part of it – and anyone out there thinking of doing something similar, take note – was making sure that I put into place extremely robust and reliable methods of storing and organising all the data. With 191 stories from 85 authors, keeping track of them all needed a lot of organising. I had all the data stored in a database which enabled me to organise it in any number of ways and it meant that I could keep a track of which story belonged to whom, when and where it came from, how many versions of it there were and so on ad infinitum. Having spent some time in data analysis when I was working was a definite plus.
KG: It's out now, what are you hoping the book will achieve, or have you achieved your goal by just getting it done?
HJ: On the personal front – I think I’ve done what I set out to do and that’s very satisfying. Having said that, if it raises a respectable amount of money for the charity that would be a wonderful bonus. But even more importantly, for me, some of the writers were making their very first attempt at writing fiction and if seeing their work in print encourages them to write more, nothing would make me happier. And, sometimes, just having your friends and family be happy and proud of you is priceless. I hope every single author gets their fair share of that particular joy.
KG: Writing is a joy and I’m sure you’ve encouraged some good writers to write more. Now, as you know I am a perfect gentleman, I never ask a lady her age but I hope you don't mind me saying you are a little bit older than 21. I think it's a fantastic achievement regardless of age but do you think there is a thinking in society that you reach a certain age and one is almost put out to pasture?
HJ: Well I’m not going to tell you how old I am. Suffice it to say that a certain Paul McCartney wrote the words “Will you still need me, will you still feed me?” words which I shall be asking later this year. As for society’s attitude to age – yes, I do feel there’s an element of tending to write people off prematurely – in some fields more than others. There’s also a general attitude even among the public (who, it has to be said, haven’t yet realised that their time will come) that older people somehow never knew anything, never experienced anything, and now have no conception that they are all washed up. A year or so ago, my GP asked if I used moisturiser on my skin. When I told him I used baby cream – he nearly laughed me out of the surgery. That’s not nice. Oddly enough – I haven’t experienced any of those prejudices when it comes to writing. Long may that continue.
KG: Well you sure proved people wrong. Age is not a barrier. You got some help, family & friends, and I hear your publisher, though he can be a bit of a "tyrant" at times, gave you great help but a free rein?
HJ: A tyrant – that’s funny. I can’t think of anyone less tyrannical. He did give me a lot of help, yes – and a lot of his time which, for a working publisher, is incredibly generous. Did he give me a free rein? You know, you could say he did. I wanted to do some things which he advised were not the norm – using international spellings and so on, but to his eternal credit he was open to argument and let me do it my way in the end.
KG: Women always get their way in the end, everybody knows that! The big question is will you do another similar project and if so what will it be about and can I write for it?
HJ: I would love to do another one although probably not this year. And many of the authors who took part in this one have urged me to do just that. It’s great to know that they got such enjoyment from it and will miss it now that it’s done. I do have a few germs of ideas incubating – but nothing’s quite hatched yet. And could you write for it? – I’d expect nothing less.
But – could I ask my publisher to be that generous again? It would be a big ask.
KG: Anything for you dear lady. Thank you so much for your valuable time and we at KGHH Publishing would like to not only thank you for all your hard work, and also thank Lori Depp for her foreword and story, and a huge thanks to all the writers of the stories. Such a mixed, funny, emotional thought provoking read.
If you'd like to read the collection, it's available on Amazon via not only e-book but lovely paperback. With all royalties going to the wonderful Make-A-Wish Foundation, so why not get copies in all formats, get lots of copies and give them to your friends.
Maybe if enough of you write to Amazon they'll wave their percentage and donate that to the charity too.
For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn, complied and edited by writer Hache L. Jones and published free for her by KGHH Publishing.