Marooned on a desert island

To celebrate the 300th anniversary of the publication of Daniel Defoe’s much-loved classic Robinson Crusoe published on the 25 April 1719, and to complement our Crusoe300 Flash Fiction Walkshop, we ran a Crusoe300 flash fiction competition.

ISBN 978-1-912960-22-4

We are delighted to announce the publication of Shipwrecked, a limited edition chapbook, published by Sampson Low Publishers.

Shipwrecked includes the winning stories from the competition judged by N G Bristow (screen writer, director and visual artist running the MA in Directing Fiction at Goldsmiths University of London), Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone (author, editor and tutor on the Novel Studio at City, University of London) and Andrew Stuck (Founding Director of the Museum of Walking).

Defoe himself published hundreds of chapbooks, and these stories are all inspired by his most famous work, Robinson Crusoe in different ways; challenging colonial perceptions, questioning the veracity of narrative, playing with the idea of abandonment and escape.

Want to buy a copy of “Shipwrecked” ?then just follow this link

We asked the winning authors to tell us what it was in Robinson Crusoe that inspired them to write their stories:

Moira Tighe – author of “Friday” 

“The moment in Robinson Crusoe that inspired me was Robinson’s discovery of the footprint, marking the end of his isolation. I was thinking about loneliness and how we choose to navigate it, the way that we shape our lives to avoid, encircle or try to live and breath inside it. I considered how we can live in close proximity to others, know all their ways and habits, yet never truly know them and how we are seemingly always drawn to connect even if we cannot clearly discern whether the other is friend or foe. I wrote a story in which one lonely person, living in unusual isolation, chooses to communicate with another, who is equally, though more conventionally, isolated.”

Fiona Ritchie Walker – author of “New World”

Robinson Crusoe’s challenge of surviving far from home inspired me to think about what a modern day setting might be, and I chose to set my flash fiction in a foodbank as I volunteer at a local distribution centre.”

Laurence Sullivan – author of “Establishing Connection”

“There are obviously a multitude of themes to choose from in Robinson Crusoe, but the one that interested me most here was the idea of man overcoming the initial threat the natural world can present. In the 21st century this doesn’t seem like the same issue that it was in the 18th – for a start, there are so few places on Earth which are still genuinely uninhabited now. Our greater issue seems not to be achieving mastery over the natural world, but actually re-connecting with it and achieving a new equilibrium. By the end of Robinson Crusoe, the island has become a home for the eponymous protagonist – almost a luxurious one, and now people will pay small fortunes to seek out similar small islands in the hope of disconnecting from the modern world and finding temporary refuge in the natural one. I think that’s why the story still fascinates us so much now, for many a modern reader the idea of being shipwrecked on a desert island is an escapist fantasy, rather than something to be feared. This is what my story is really about: that no matter the apparent draws of the hectic, modern world, there will always be a part of us that pines for a simpler, more natural way of living.”

Sarah McPherson – author of “True Stories”

“I am fascinated by how stories can define us and become part of who we are and our family histories, and also the power of place (in this case the island) to make something you have only known as a story suddenly feel more real, as when you visit a site of historical significance. For this flash piece, I imagined how someone going through an experience like Robinson Crusoe’s – being shipwrecked – might become a story told to younger generations of their family, to be exaggerated, believed or not believed, and the impact that visiting the island and being confronted with that reality might then have.”

Mavis Pilbeam – author of “Survival”

“I read Robinson Crusoe from cover to cover in preparation for the Walkshop and was totally engrossed by Defoe’s extraordinary imagination and quirkiness. This, combined with the Walkshop, suggested ways of writing which I might not have considered before, so I produced something which was not at all typical of me.”

Jonathan Fox – author of “Court Report”

“What a brief! A book I’ve loved since I was a child. If there’s any fictional character I can identify with it’s Mr. Crusoe. A person who feels all alone on an Island? It’s something we’ve all felt at one time or another. Well, I have at least. Long live R.C.!”

Nora Nadjarian – author of “The Return”

“I imagine the story of Robinson Crusoe to be a kind of metaphor for human loneliness. Desperate for companionship, he conjured up a romance which everyone believed, of a faraway island that he made his home. His true salvation was Friday, the one he loved and the one his thoughts turn to, even now. It is up to the reader to decide whether Friday really existed or not.”

Elizabeth Forsyth – author of “Reaping”

“I was inspired by the contrast of capability and power. Often those who are in power aren’t capable of what people without power have the ability to do, and resentment can grow between them.”

Want to be part of our next #flashfiction chapbook anthology?

You better be quick as thee is less than 48 hours until the deadline to write 50 words or under inspired by the first #MoonWalk – more details here.

All about walking blog posting is unpredictable – if it’s raining biblical downpours then a blog post is more likely to appear, in most other weather conditions we are out walking and not blogging on a keyboard…..