A boy helps his sister disguise her birthmark on her first day of school.
A seventeen-year-old awakens to find himself trapped in an elderly body.
A teenage girl discovers her boyfriend has a life-threatening virus the day after they share their first kiss.
A high school student tries to communicate to his hospitalised brother who is in a vegetative state.
Brian Falkner serves up bite-sized tales of fear – fear of rejection, fear of dying, fear of disease, fear of the unknown, fear of exclusion, fear of being caught and fear of embarrassment – showing how that stubborn seed of hope hungers our darkest moments.
Better Reading: Congratulations on your new book, That Stubborn Seed of Hope! This collection of short stories about fear, dying, and hope is really a sucker-punch of a read. Tell us about your inspiration for the book.
Brian Falkner: Thanks! The inspiration is varied, as you would expect with a book of short stories that have been written over a long period of time. Different stories were inspired by different things. One was inspired by an old joke, another by a trip to Fremantle. Another story, one of my personal favourites, was inspired by nothing more than noticing a girl with a strawberry birthmark in a school I was visiting.
BR: What in particular do you really hope readers take from these stories?
BF: That life is hard, but there is always hope. That in the darkest of days there remains a glimmer of light. That if you’re going through hell, keep going!
BR: Why did you choose to write in the short story format, especially when you have so many novels under your belt?
BF: The stories were written over many years in and around writing novels. I wrote two especially for the collection to replace two that we removed because they were unsuitable.
BR: You state in the introduction that you started to write this collection about fear, and it ended up being about hope. How did this transition come about?
BF: It wasn’t so much that I started to write about fear, it was that when I read through the (already-written) stories, I noticed that there was a theme of fear. But then, as I delved deeper, I realised that a much stronger theme was that of hope.
BR: Why do you write for young adults?
BF: I don’t know. It just works for me. I also write junior fiction but have no interest in writing for adults.
BR: Why was it important to write such a ‘dark’ thematic book – about death and dying?
BF: I think this is important for young people. It lets them experience dark and dangerous things in a safe environment. It is a kind of inoculation, preparing them for the real world.
BR: Did you have a favourite short story in the book?
BF: A couple, but I won’t prejudice the reader by telling you which they are.
BR: What was the writing process of this book like?
BF: Long. Many years long.
BR: What brought you to writing?
BF: Instinct. It was always something I wanted to do.
BR: What’s next for you?
BF: I am not really sure. I have a few ideas I am slowly developing. I will have to see which one takes root.
Brian Falkner loves telling stories, either in his books, or standing in front of an audience. He is the award-winning, bestselling author of seventeen books for children and young adults, including Northwoodand The Real Thing. His 2015 novel Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloowon the New Zealand Children’s Book Award for Young Adults and was shortlisted in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. His action-adventure sci-fi novels The Tomorrow Code and Brainjack were both shortlisted for the New Zealand Post Book Awards with Brainjack winning the Children’s Choice Award (Young Adult). Brainjack also won the 2010 Sir Julius Vogel Award, Best Young Adult Novel. His books have been published in over twelve countries in seven different languages.