-Reviewed by Helen Weldon-
Pop Fiction is an adventurous experiment made up of contributions from some of the new writers on www.YouWriteOn.com. The concept is simple, each writer has to produce two short stories inspired by songs, one must be based on the pre-assigned ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie, the other can be from any pop song that takes their fancy. The outcome is an assortment of narratives exploring all the possibilities and restrictions such a brief creates.
Throughout Pop Fiction the amateur level of the writing is often apparent but there are definitely a few examples of writers to watch. Some of the standout moments of the collection come from Daniel Lewis, Carole Pitt and Lee Williams, three who seem the most comfortable with their writing voices and creating appealing plot lines and characters. Lewis’ macabre recollection of a blood soaked tragedy at Disney Land inspired by The Fall’s ‘Disney’s Dream Debased’, shows a truly fresh idea mixed with perverse humour. Pitt brings us effortless yet engaging accounts of two women under very different kinds of pressure and Williams keeps things short and sweet but still manages to draw the reader in while making sure you think twice before heading back to the gym.
Here and there a few writing clichés get exorcised, as found in Marc Nash’s tale of over dramatic teen angst and pointless star crossed lovers’ suicide. Many of the voices are a little self conscious as they find their feet or over reach with characters and situations that are sadly a bit too alien to them. In other places natural talent for characterisation shines through with the likes of Karen Snape-Williams’ ‘Cut And Run’ articulating the dying prayer of an unrepentant man inspired by Bob Marley and the Wailers’ ‘I Shot The Sheriff’.
Though an interesting experiment in some places the brief seems to be more of a hindrance, constricting the writers’ ideas, characters and developments. The choice to make ‘Heroes’ a repeated song offers an easy method of technical comparison however they do start to feel a bit repetitive and it might have been nice to see a greater variety in song choices as the Bowie free stories tend to be the more creative and feel less confined.
Overall this is a great opportunity for new writers to get their work published for the first time and though there is room for improvement from both the contributors and the briefing this is the kind of publication that we should be seeing more of, a valuable stepping stone to help raise the confidence of creative minds just starting out.
Initial proceeds from Pop Fiction will be donated to the Blue Lamp Foundation.