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30 Books in 30 Days - Day 21: An anthology you love

This book is a collection of stories, predominantly based on true life tales. This is one of the sources of inspiration we've been asked to look at as part of my MA in Creative Writing and is something I've been toying with the idea of using for some flash fiction for my blog later in the year, so it was interesting to see how another author had approached it.

Although the stories in this anthology are excellent, there is a much bigger reason why it's so special to me. In November last year, I had a phone conversation with my sister about the fact that we were going to be reading 'The Sealed Letter' in my book group. I also happened to mention that for my next piece of assessed work for my MA, I needed to read some more short stories and I wasn't sure which author to try as I'd already read multiple 'complete works of...' anthologies.

Sadly, shortly before Christmas, my sister died unexpectedly. The day after I received the call from my brother-in-law, the box of presents she had posted for me and my family, was delivered. When we eventually unwrapped them, this was one of my presents. Now anyone who knew my sister will know that she was notorious for giving weird presents. There was normally a logic behind them and they were thoughtful gifts, but would often raise an eyebrow until we worked out her thinking. To give you an example - my husband once got a box of oatcakes from her. It seemed bizarre until she reminded us that we'd eaten them with cheese one night when she'd stayed with us and he'd mentioned that he really liked them. (We hadn't eaten them since and had completely forgotten the conversation, but she'd remembered it and stored it away for future use). Another year, she gave my Mum and me crochet swan soap holders because they made her laugh and reminded her of the toilet dollies we used to have on our toilet roll in the '80s. Opening this made me cry because for once, I knew exactly why she'd bought this for me and it just summed her up - a random conversation we'd had with no thought of anything than just two sisters who both loved books, chatting about what we were planning to read. But she'd remembered that conversation and bought me a book that she thought I'd enjoy AND would be useful for my course. My sister did so much to try to help me with my writing that it is very fitting that her final gift to me was designed to do the same.

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