'Scar Tissue' by Dr Clare Morgan

Dr Clare Morgan, founder and Director of our Master’s in Creative Writing, has released a new collection of short stories, Scar Tissue, published by Seren.

The book uses a sense of place to consider human lives, and is arranged into five sections: ‘Space’, ‘Home’, ‘Away’, ‘Nowhere’, and ‘Somewhere’.  Like scar tissue in the flesh, the collected stories look at where things divide and where – and if – they grow back together; at what is and what might have been.

‘Place is fundamental to who and what I am,’ says Clare. ‘Place to me is about belonging – or the absence of belonging – and is interlinked with history and time, and family in complex ways. This sense of place is an important underpinning of Scar Tissue.’

The settings in Scar Tissue include Wales and the Marches (that mysterious borderland between England and Wales) to places as far away as India, Paris, New England, Scandinavia, Spain and beyond. As stated on the publisher’s website, ‘each story offers a fresh perspective on the nature of individual existence in all its transient vulnerability, and explores the darker and more challenging aspects of emotional, sexual and familial relationships, while simultaneously celebrating the joys of being alive in an unfathomable world.'

For Clare, who has visited or worked in all the locations she writes about, the different settings enable different perspectives, and reveal previously unrealised aspects of people and things. The short story is the ideal form for intimate exploration.

‘My characters enact these endless oppositions and counter-tows, as they are buffeted by the equally complex and conflicting tides of life and circumstance,’ says Clare. ‘I think short stories have always explored these aspects of being human, from de Maupassant onwards through Raymond Carver and to George Saunders today.’

Scar Tissue follows Clare’s earlier collection of stories, An Affair of the Heart, which Seren have simultaneously republished.

Says Clare, ‘I love short fiction and how you can turn a story over a bit like a diamond, so it catches the light in different ways. It reflects so many truths at once, endlessly revealing to us something about ourselves and humanity. You can see the light shine off it from a variety of angles, giving different perspectives. But it’s important not to spell out too much, and to ensure that you leave room for the reader to undertake their own exploration. You need to give readers room to bring their own experiences, and not tell them what to think.  That’s what I’ve set out to do in Scar Tissue and why I was delighted by the reviewer who wrote:  “The magic [of Scar Tissue] is in the silences, in the gaps between what is said and what is not said. A collection that’s been a long time coming, but … is worth the wait.”

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Published 21 November 2022