Backstories by Simon Van Der Velde #BookReview #Anthology #SmokeandMirrorsPress #5*

‘Ingenious idea, brilliantly executed’ – Daily Mirror

‘Humanity shimmers at the heart of every tale…and it is this that resonates, long after each mystery has been solved.’ – Caroline Ward Vine, winner of the Costa Prize.

Can you find the famous person hidden in every story? And once found, can you understand them?

Dreamers, singers, heroes and killers, they can dazzle with their talent or their unmitigated evil, yet inside themselves, they are as frail and desperate as the rest of us. But can you see them? Can you unravel the truth?

These are people you know, but not as you know them. Peel back the mask and see.

This book is dedicated to the victims of violent crime, the struggle against discrimination in all its forms and making the world a better place for our children. That is why 30% of all profits will be shared between Stop Hate UK, The North East Autism Society and Friends of the Earth.


“Whatever happened to, all of the heroes?” The Stranglers 1977

I was twelve years old when I first heard this song and although there was something in the feral tone that grabbed me, I didn’t really understand it. I do now. I get the angst and the loss and the emptiness, which is why, in Backstories, I aim to answer the question.

I’m not interested in simplistic tabloid truths. They clung on too long, drank too much, lost their looks and their charm and generally reminded us that we’re all getting older. That’s not what I want from my heroes.

What I want is to find the spark, to dig down into their pain, their passions and their imperfections, and show you our heroes as they truly are.

So join me on my quest. Let’s bypass the obvious, the tedious, and the dull. Brave the deeper, darker paths where the treasures can be found, and together we’ll uncover the fears and doubts that made our heroes what they were and perhaps catch a glimpse of ourselves along the way.

Whatever happened to all of the heroes?

They turned out to be human beings, in all their diverse glory.

Simon Van der Velde January, 2021

An Original Concept, Cleverly Conceived!

I’m rather fond of a good anthology – and this is a GREAT anthology!

This collection of stories all have something in common; each one is about someone you’re probably aware of (and if not, why not?) and all adds a frisson of excitement!

As usual – you’ll be aware of this if you follow my reviews – I didn’t absorb the blurb before beginning to read so the ending of the first tale took me by surprise. By the second one, I had realised it was a feature and looked forward to discovering each revelation. Simon Van Der Velde is a writer who knows his stuff and spins each tale with class and flair. The very idea of this anthology is an original concept, cleverly conceived and resulting in a fabulously entertaining read. I know that there is a second collection of Backstories on the way and I look forward to reading and reviewing them too. This is a first class collection, written by an author who knows how to hold his readers in his thrall. As such, he is one to watch. I cannot recommend this anthology highly enough; trust me, it is well worth adding to your own collection. A full five sparkling stars – and well worth each and every one.

My thanks to the author for my copy of his novel; this is – as always – my honest, original and unbiased review.

Tags: anthology

Author Details

Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, labourer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as travelling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters and insights for his award-winning stories. Since completing a creative writing M.A. (with distinction) in 2010, Simon’s work has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards including; The Yeovil Literary Prize, (twice), The Wasafiri New Writing Prize, The Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Frome Shortstory Prize, The Harry Bowling Prize, The Henshaw Press Short Story Competition and The National Association of Writers’ Groups Open Competition – establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost short-story writers.

Simon now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, with his wife, Nicola, their labradoodle, Barney and two tyrannical children

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