Vic didn’t slow down when he reached the pet shop. Please don’t stutter, he thought as he thudded into the counter. Please don’t stutter, please don’t stutter.

Book cover - Snot ChocolateYou wouldn’t guess from the title, but I think Snot Chocolate contains some of my most serious short stories.

Under the surface, that is. I write short stories to have fun and to give myself a break from the stiff neck and stiff brain you sometimes get writing book-length stories. So whatever my short stories are about, whatever big and difficult problems the characters are grappling with, I make sure everyone goes about it in an entertaining way.

Which helps the characters too. Big problems can sometimes only be solved by doing things that nobody else would dream of doing. For example, in ‘Snot Chocolate’, the story that gives this collection its name, the central character has a big problem with her mother, whose health and reputation and career are in serious danger from a tragic addiction to, as the title suggests … chocolate.

What does Jemma do to save her mum? The title hints at that too. Titles are so useful, I don’t know what I’d do without them.

In another story in the collection, ‘Chips That Pass In The Night’, the main character wants to do something very special for a sad and lonely family member who is dying. Doesn’t sound like a bucket of laughs, right? But as the title indicates, Jackson goes about his task in a way that makes us smile. Well it does me and I hope you too.

Sometimes, to get what we need, we have to start off by not getting what we want. That’s what happens to Vic in ‘The Tortoise And The Hair’. Two obstacles cause him deep frustration, and they’re both in the title. It’s perhaps the most serious and important day in Vic’s life, but the title lets us know it’s not all gloom and misery. In fact it turns into the happiest day of his life, and Monty the tortoise ends up pretty cheerful too.

I like stories to be full of feelings of all types. As a writer it’s not just titles I can’t do without – I’d also hate to forget that in stories a laugh can have a teardrop as a very close neighbour.

Book cover - Snot ChocolateSnot Chocolate is available in bookshops and libraries in Australia, New Zealand, and online: