Death, motherhood, the nature of reality and the gender expectations of cultural conditioning are woven through these biting little stories in Sandra Arnold’s debut flash fiction collection. Sometimes sad, surreal and sinister, they’re also shot through with love and a deep understanding of humanity.
In gorgeous, spare prose that paints a very vivid picture, Sandra Arnold gives voice to characters that are often unheard. From Daisy in Fireworks Night, willing to do whatever it takes to protect her little sister; to Hathor in The Girl With Green Hair who has her body in the world we live in and her mind in the one not many people see; and Ruby in Don’t Mess With Vikings who finds strength in a diagnosis of illness to stand up to bullies. With the stories in this collection, Sandra Arnold etches marks on your soul that will last.
About the author: Sandra Arnold lives in New Zealand. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from CQ University, Australia and is the author of a book on parental bereavement, Sing no Sad Songs, and two novels, Tomorrow’s Empire and A Distraction of Opposites. Her third novel, Ash (Mākaro Press, NZ) is forthcoming in 2019. Her essays have been published in TEXT, Research into 21stCentury Communities, Post Pressed, Australia, Corpus: The Journal of Medical Humanities,University of Otago, Headland, Atlas Medical Literary Journal, Social Alternatives, Deep South, New Zealand Society of Authors Journal, Booknotes: The Journal of the New Zealand Book Council, The Spinoff, Connotation Press, Landfall and TSS Publishing. Her short stories and flash fiction appear innumerous journals and anthologies including Sleep is a Beautiful Colour (National Flash Fiction Day, UK, 2017) and Bonsai: Best Small Stories from Aotearoa New Zealand(Canterbury University Press, NZ, 2018). She is a Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions nominee. She has been placed, short-listed and long-listed in many awards,most recently as a finalist in the 2018MslexiaFlash Fiction Competition, the 2018TSS: The Short Story competition, the 2017 University of Sunderland Short Story Award, winner of the 2015 New Zealand Heritage Short Story Award and recipient of the 2014 Seresin Landfall University of Otago Writers Residency. She was a founding editor of the New Zealand literary magazine Takahe and is a guest editor of Flash Frontier and Meniscus: the journal of the Australasian Association of Writing Programmes.
More at sandraarnold.co.nz
‘Sandra Arnold’s stories are small windows into another world, a world which is almost this world. She brings the readers in, page by page, enticing with dream-like language and insightful observation. Beguiling, strange, tender and chilling, these potent gems continue percolating in your mind long after the reading is done.’ – Meg Pokrass, author of Alligators At Night
‘A wise and poetic sensibility currents through these stories in Soul Etchings. They are short, yet substantial—intimate and keen. Here are stories of place and of the heart.’ – Robert Scotellaro, author of What We Know So Far
‘In Soul Etchings, Sandra Arnold creates a patchwork of memorable moments, weaving scenes of human striving, folly and joy. These stories create a lingering interconnectedness – between character and place, between past and present, between writer and reader. This collection hums with quiet discord and persistent longing.’ – Michelle Elvy, author of The Everrumble and editor of Bonsai: Best Small Stories of Aotearoa New Zealand
‘Soul Etchings, Sandra Arnold’s collection of short-short fictions travels deep into the human experience. The stories are compelling, sometimes surprising or disturbing and show great insight into how people behave. A pair of young girls steal a baby not really knowing what they are doing; a sudden storm causes a horrific balloon accident while a mother watches; a couple who try and escape memories at Christmas find unexpected solace in the simple words of a stranger. Often, children have to understand and deal with the adult world and what adults do to them. The sense of place is very strong in this collection and the vivid prose emphasises both the beauty and the fragility of life. Soul Etchings is a brilliant and poetic read, one not to be missed.’ – Jude Higgins, author of The Chemist’s House
‘Sandra Arnold’s debut flash collection Soul Etchings is simply beautiful. There’s an element of the mystery of humanity and the world that will fill readers with wonder. Each detail is unique and woven together in a universal tapestry, and Soul Etchings will leave readers craving more from Sandra Arnold.’ – Niles Reddick, author of Reading the Coffee Grounds and Other Stories
‘Mastery of the short form is a delicate, nerve-wracking balancing act. Tilt one way and you fall into bathos, tilt the other and you plunge into artifice and contrivance. There is very little room to manoeuvre. Sandra Arnold, in this rich collection demonstrates just how it should be done. In story after brilliant story, she negotiates the tightrope surely, often with bravura, and all without the aid of a safety net.’ – James Norcliffe, author of Dark Days at the Oxygen Café
‘From the detritus of daily life, Arnold forges a tenderly rendered, nuanced account of her character’s lives- which she avoids over-simplifying. Soul Etchings is vital, and the stakes are high: this author pools the deep to plumb the raw and wounded, and in doing so, spellbinds and provides release.’ – Robert Vaughan, author of Funhouse, EIC Bending Genres