Short stories are a great read when you’re passing through somewhere and don’t have a lot of time to devote to a long novel or just want something light and easy to read.
On my bedside table in a hotel last weekend was a terrific little collection of stories by some of Australia’s top writers – and it came courtesy of the hotel, in every way. Last year, the Accor hotel group’s MGallery Collection of very distinctive hotels in Australia partnered with Melbourne’s The Wheeler Centre (home of the Victoria Writers Centre) to create and publish a collection of short stories inspired by some its hotels.
What a terrific idea! The invited writers were “in residence” at one of the hotels each, for three nights. As part of their writing while there, they turned out stories based on their stay.
I was staying at the New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites in Brisbane, to review it for one of my regular freelance gigs. And as chance would have it, the story based on the Inchcolm was by award-winning Melbourne author Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect. I’ve met Graeme a couple of times – when we were both speakers at the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival in 2014, and last year when he gave a talk while staying at the Inchcolm for this particular project – so I was keen to see what he’d written.
The book is a slim volume, each story taking up only two or three pages (plus there’s a lot of information and about the hotels, too, of course, and plenty of lovely images). It’s a clever marketing exercise.
Other writers in the book are Favel Parrett, Chris Flynn, Robyn Annear, Toni Jordan, Debra Oswald, Alison Croggon, and Hannie Rayson.
Of course the first story I turned to was Slideshow, the story by Graeme Simsion about the Inchcolm. Tucked up in my room at this beautiful 1920s style boutique hotel, I was ready to be inspired.
The street doors slide open to frame a cafe on one side and a bar on the other. Reception straight ahead.
It’s all ringing pretty true, so far. Then unfolds the story of a photographer (he’s a Nikon man) staying in a room on the fourth floor (like me) and hoping to run into a long lost love. The story takes up only a page and a half, but it’s got a twist at the end. I like that in a short story. And the hotel’s features spring out of it, right down to the 1920s heritage-listed elevator, with its wood panelling and grill door.
Not all the stories are so literary; some trace the history of the places, others capture the feeling of the season, and of very personal stories. Good reads, all of them.
This little book has introduced me to some writers I didn’t know before, but now want to read more of. Well done Accor, I’m hoping that this is an exercise that will be repeated sometime.
A Glass Half Full stayed at the New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites as a guest of the hotel.