Lilies for the Mantel is my short story contribution to the charity anthology You’re Not Alone. The anthology is in aid of Macmillan Cancer Care and all profits will go to the charity.
I always find it strange to think people could be reading my words somewhere in the world. I’m new to this game so it was quite exciting to see my first story in a real book. It’s a little scary too but I’m proudly hiding in between accomplished and experienced authors; I wonder if they remember that feeling of holding their first book. It’s one of those guilty pleasures, I want to run round waving it at people and shouting “look, this is me!” but that’s not really my style. Instead I’m enjoying the moment quietly and grinning madly as I flick through the pages to my little story.
Times have changed and while I cherish my favourite books, I also have an eBook library bigger than the overflowing bookcases in my home. I’ve become accustomed to seeing my blog posts appear on a screen but nothing beats the feel of a real book. Books are a true sensory experience; the smell of the pages, the cover image that becomes like the face of an old friend, the feel of paper and the weight of the book which adds real substance to the emotions contained inside.
For me holding my first published book is all the more special as I share this experience with friends. Some authors supported me along the way and were already dear friends, others I became friends with because of this project. I also share the excitement with my mum Christine Southworth, who did the original sketches for the cover. You’re Not Alone is an appropriate title in so many ways.
I wanted to get involved in this project as a thank you to all the wonderful nurses who cared for my dad in his last few weeks so it seemed rather fitting to write a story about him. The character in Lilies for the Mantel is loosely based on him and he would’ve been thrilled to have appeared in a book. The places are real and the pub with the whistling landlord was a favourite haunt of my dad’s. The unfinished mantel really did exist in the old farmhouse and sadly, its story is also true. I also managed to sneak in a few fairies, flowers and a woodland walk. My dad is no longer here to see this but I know he’d be proud, though I’d probably be in trouble for not describing his character as devilishly handsome!
During this project, author Christoph Fischer interviewed all the contributers to the book. You can read our interviews and those of the other writers on Christoph’s blog.
The best thing about You’re Not Alone is that 100% of the profits will go to Macmillan Cancer Care. You can buy either a paperback or an eBook through Amazon. If you do, please leave us a review and hop over to our You’re Not Alone Facebook page to let us know which your favourite stories were.
We hope you enjoy reading the book as much as we loved writing it.