North Staffordshire Press has published Stone based author Steve Dyster’s first collection of short stories.
Set in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the tales focus on an old bargee’s look back on a long-life spent working on the canals that carried the goods of industrialisation in a rapidly changing world, before the hand of Victorian respectability laid hold.
The back cover explains: “When a team of crack French troops are sent by Napoleon to sever the arteries of Britain’s war effort, which hero sprang to his country’s aid? Who rescued the huntsmen of Shropshire from a rampaging bear? From providing a getaway craft for families seeking refuge during the Swing Riots, to saving the reputation of a clerical gentleman and pursuing criminals into the fetid waters of the River Thames, there is only one man who claims to have done them all. Even if he probably did not, he might have done something like it. At least, he almost certainly did not accidentally shoot Lord Nelson.
In an attempt to fight off the forces of oppression, be they his daughter or the changing notions of decency in the nineteenth century, Job Carter looks back over his life in the hope of annoying his daughter, provoking local men of the cloth, and even teaching the younger generations – who have all improved themselves considerably – something about real life in the good old days.
Or maybe he was just making it all up. Who knows?”
Steve says, “I’m really excited to have had these stories published. I’ve always been fascinated by history – I spent twenty-four years teaching it – but historical fiction allows you to tell a few tales too. I was once told that writers should write about what they know; I was also told that one should write to entertain oneself; I did, but I hope they’ll entertain other people, too.”
“The stories are unashamedly from the lower levels of society, though the rich and wealthy pop-up frequently. In the twenty-first century we have heard a lot about the ‘left behind’. Many of the characters were or are being left behind, though some further and more rapidly than others; others have kept up and a few lead the way into the distance. That has always happened.”
The official launch was at the New Victoria Theatre, Etruria Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme on Saturday November 4th. Very well-attended, Steve gave a short talk about The Navigator. Some of the questions posed in this were whether George III would have been consigned to a council depot in Northamptonshire if Napoleon had invaded and whether an Middlesex magistrate was really sarcastic about folk from Staffordshire.
A spokesperson from North Staffordshire Press said, “We are delighted to be publishing Steve Dyster’s work which has great potential to be a huge success. The entire book was a pleasure to work on and we greatly appreciate Steve choosing us to publish his book.”