My guest on the blog today is the multi-talented writer Mona Dash. Let Us Look Elsewhere (published by Dahlia Books) is her terrific new short story collection and she’s come along to talk about the stories and her writing.
My own review of Let Us Look Elsewhere is at the end of the post…
Mona Dash is the author of A Roll of the Dice : a story of loss, love and genetics (Linen Press, 2019) winner of the Eyelands International Book Awards for memoir, and very recently, Let Us Look Elsewhere (Dahlia Books, June ’21).Her other published books are A Certain Way, Untamed Heart, and Dawn-drops. Her work has been listed in leading competitions such as Novel London 20, SI Leeds Literary award, Fish, Bath, Bristol, Leicester Writes and Asian Writer, and widely published in international journals and more than twenty anthologies. A graduate in Telecoms Engineering, she holds an MBA, and also a Masters in Creative Writing (with distinction). She works in a global tech company and lives in London.
About Let Us Look Elsewhere:
A young boy refuses to ferry his boat. A woman orders a British
Praise for Let Us Look Elsewhere
A wonderful, richly rendered and triumphant collection. Highly recommended
~ Irenosen Okojie, Author, MBE
Mona Dash has produced an unflinching collection of short stories, demonstrating that she is a fearless writer, unafraid to reveal her characters flaws and extremes as they search for a sense of identity and belonging.
~ Joe Melia, Bristol Short Story Prize Co-ordinator
These atmospheric stories travel across continents and time, offering surprising and intriguing incursions into the disparate moments of solitary lives.
~ Amanthi Harris, Author
Mona tells us:
This is a collection of stories written over the past five or six years. Several of these were listed in competitions or published in a journal. It was only when an older and different version of this collection was shortlisted in the SI Leeds Literary Award in 2018. It was the only short story collection to make the final shortlist of six books, so that is when I realised I had a potential book!
I wrote each story as it ‘arrived’ in my head, so the influences and inspirations are varied. There are two threads through the heart of the collection, firstly human frailty and disconnect, since the characters are not complete or content. They are each on a quest, whether it is to find love or self-fulfilment. The second is a sense of place, and how our surroundings often influence and make a difference to our own ideologies and personality constructs.
Then there are two themes stitching the stories. Multiple, diverse identity is very important to me as a person, and as a writer. The travesty of belonging and feeling like an outsider, can happen to anyone. Many of the stories explore situational belonging and identity, such as Natural Accents, Golems of Prague, Temple Cleaner, The Sense of Skin, Boatboy. Though Boatboy is a bit different as it is the only one based on a real incident in history.
Desire, passion, sensuality, especially of women, is the second theme throughout the collection. The women in my stories are trying to find themselves, often through love, intimacy, they are often rebelling against the spaces they have been forced into. This exploration into the complexity of a woman’s mind and her often ambiguous secret world, is explored through the stories like Lovers in a Room, Secrets, Watching the Aurora, Inside the City, Formations, Fitted Lids, That which is unreal, Why does the cricket sing?
I have thoroughly enjoyed writing these stories!
... and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them! Thank you, Mona.
Let Us Look Elsewhere is available from Dahlia Books with free postage in the UK
My review of Let Us Look Elsewhere:
Let Us Look Elsewhere by Mona Dash is a collection of short stories that will make you look elsewhere with eager eyes. Every time I opened this collection I looked forward to reading a new story. I never knew where the author would take me next, to different times and places all across the world where I could learn about so many different lives and settings.
Short story collections can often be a chore, the pages filled with admirable prose yet dull plot-lines, whereas Let Us Look Elsewhere is refreshingly packed with compelling and thrilling stories. Realist and speculative fiction happily sit together, which makes for exciting reading. Each story intrigued and fascinated me, I was totally immersed in the characters’ lives and eager to learn their fates. In this collection you will discover multiple worlds, novels played out in miniature leaving you hungry for more yet very satisfied with the story’s closure. Dash’s talent is for creating believable characters who you care about. I particularly loved the more complex and morally dubious characters in this collection. You may question their motives and methods but their voices fascinate and intrigue, and you can’t stop reading.
Imaginative, risk-taking and always surprising, this collection of short stories is a joy to read.