Yorkshire writer Will Kemp explores the many guises of survival in new short story collection
Writer Will explores such forms in his debut collection of short stories, published next week. Surviving Larkin And Other Stories is a collection of fourteen tales exploring the challenges life presents and the many ways we battle through.
"We live in very difficult uncertain times and I hope the theme of survival in this collection is relevant to people’s lives and may help them,” says Will, who lives near Tadcaster. "We all go through hard times and it’s a real test to us as individuals how we come through those.”
One clear example comes to mind in his own life. He struggled to secure a spot at university, having flunked his A-levels, shunning studying for smoking, drinking and chasing girls. “That taught me a very important lesson. From then I had to work very hard – lesson one, nobody gets anywhere without hard work.”
Raised by his lawyer father and teacher mother in North Lincolnshire, Will describes himself as a creative child, with a love for art and writing.
"I remember my father on my 16th birthday saying ‘right what do you want to do in life?’,” Will recalls. “I said I’d really like to be an artist and a writer.
"He blew his top and said ‘look, in this life, you’ve got to be either a doctor, a lawyer or an accountant’. So things were tricky, but nevertheless I’ve always harboured this passion for writing."
His career has seen him work in teaching, planning and surveying, but evenings and weekends, he’d always be found with a pen in hand.
Then, nearing 15 years ago, Will, now 59, won a competition that led to a collection of his poetry being published. Further collections followed, but he was keen to show he was a diverse writer.
Will hopes his short story collection will do just that. He’s also continuing work on his goal to have a novel published, whilst teaching creative writing at York University.
For his latest work, he has been influenced by the short story writers of the early 20th century, as well as taking inspiration from his own life and from others close to him. "There are people in my life who have been very strong resilient characters, my mother, my sister, my wife, and many of my friends,” he says. “They have become strong through the experiences they’ve come through.”
"The collection shows how life can turn in an instant,” he continues, “leaving us to face overwhelming problems beyond our control that call into question our reliance on others, and suggest a need for resilience and adaptability.”
Surviving Larkin is set to be published by Valley Press on November 9.