Tuesday 6 April 2010

15 Minute Thrillers

Chris Simms is a very successful crime writer of the younger generation and he's permitted me to quote from an article he's written about an interesting new venture with which I've become involved:

'Appearing on a screen near you – crime short stories

This month sees the launch of 15 minute thriller – an exciting new service that allows the user of any internet-enabled phone to download short stories to their handset. The story then sits as an application (or, in the case of more venerable models like mine, a game) to be accessed and enjoyed wherever and whenever the reader wishes.

This, we believe, is the beauty of 15 minute thriller: because you don’t need a signal to access the downloaded story, it can be read on buses, trains, trams or tubes. Got a few spare moments? Bring up your 15 minute thriller and lose yourself in the work of some of Britain’s best crime writers.

Also built into the software is some wizardry that prevents the person who’s downloaded the story from forwarding it on to any other phone.

The service is part of a larger outfit called Swiftmags who, ultimately, aim to branch out into all sorts of downloadable magazine-style content. Talking to one of the guys behind it over a beer or two one night, we realised the software would be perfect for short stories that - if my own were anything to go by - were just gathering dust on a hard drive.

At this stage, 15 minute thriller is best described as embryonic – but we hope it could become a way of getting the much-neglected art of short story telling to a whole new audience. Especially since the cost of downloading each story will be just one pound. We’re getting things rolling with these five –

• Ray Banks’ Real Gone
• Martin Edwards’ Test Drive
• Kate Ellis’ Top Deck
• Allan Guthrie’s Dirty Work
• My own story, Mother’s Milk

For an idea of how 15 minute thriller looks, simply go to www.15minutethriller.co.uk'

'Test Drive' is a story I loved writing, and it was short-listed for the CWA Short Story Dagger four years ago. It's good to see it having a fresh lease of life. Certainly, I'm glad tob e part of this project and look forward to seeing how it all works out.


Dorte H said...

Brilliant idea for these times.

It is a bit like the flash fiction stories, aimed at modern people who have ten minutes on their hands to and from work. I love writing them (well suited to my attention span after a day´s work), but they are not my favourite reading stuff. I have always loved novels, the thicker the better.

Anonymous said...

Martin - Thanks for sharing this with us. I wish you all well with your new venture. Like Dorte, I love novels. However, it takes such talent to tell a good story within a short story that I have a great deal of respect for those who can do that.

Ann Elle Altman said...

What a great idea. I would love to read those stories. I will check the site out.


Martin Edwards said...

Dorte and Margot - I think you are in the large majority when it comes to preferring novels to short stories. And so, I think, do I. But in truth I love them both.

Paul Beech said...

Martin – Must confess that for me nothing compares with the solid dependable feel of a bound book, and funnily enough I think my very switched-on grandchildren feel the same, though admittedly the youngest, Holly, hasn’t quite reached the stage of expressing preferences yet having only been born last Sunday!

Nevertheless the ’15 minute thriller’ idea is interesting. And if it should lead to a revival of interest in short fiction with opportunities for new writers, great! Maybe we’ll see a new form of storytelling emerge, something tailored to and fully exploiting the potential of the medium, a sort of short story / radio play hybrid?

Perfectly crafted short crime stories are indeed thrilling to read but arguably the novel is the better form for mysteries, providing space for character development, various plot strands, red herrings and ultimately a satisfying denouement. With tales of the supernatural, though, depending upon an atmosphere of menace from which rationality might actually detract, the short story is surely the better form. Following the ’15 minute thriller’, maybe we’ll see the ’15 minute chiller’, at least as a companion series – what do you think? And would you be interested in contributing in the same spirit as those featured in that old anthology of Alfred Hitchcock’s, ‘Departures into the Macabre’?

Regards, Paul