Hi, my name is Jeffrey Archer. When I was a young man, short stories were almost as popular as novels. And authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Moupassant, O. Henry, H. H. Monro and Somerset Maugham were regularly to be seen in the bookshops, packing people in.
But that’s changed and it’s almost become a forgotten art. I find when I’ve done three or four novels, I like a clean break. And so in my lifetime as a writer, nearly 50 years, I’ve written, as you can see, several books of short stories.
And indeed, to celebrate my 80th birthday, I wrote The Short., The Long and The Tall, which is the ones the public chose as their favourites. I’ve written 92 short stories and they selected their favourite 20.
So for me, short stories have always been a particularly fond and pleasant part of my writing career. They’re very different to novels because you have to have the whole story encapsulated in perhaps 20 pages.
And you always know it’s a short story because you know it wouldn’t stretch to a novel and you must never stretch a short story. It has to be encapsulated in that tiny space and capture your attention.
Don’t dismiss the short story. I’d love to see it come back because I believe it’s a truly great form of entertainment.