14 Dec 2015, we had to respond to a mail that we received from a certain James R. Vance from France. We had no idea then how that moment would change the course of our project forever, catapulting our humble amateurish dream to create a global family of storytellers into a movement…
“Hi Jaya,
I have received an e-mail from Lorinna Denise Hastings regarding an international anthology of short stories. She is requesting a contribution from France.
I represent a writers’ group in the Limousin region (Central/SW France) but require further information:
Do you want a story written in French or English; Do you want a story about France; Do you want a story written by a French author or an author of any nationality who lives in France? What length of story, no. of words? Do you expect any specific topic / genre? What is your target market (adults, adolescents or children)?…
Even before James could check up on us, I needed to do my homework. We were indeed looking for a story from France but we didn’t want our hands full with amateur writers.
So I googled him…and  was left dumbstruck.
Originally from England, James Vance lived in rural south-west France and was a published author of not one, but eight novels. ‘Animal Instinct’, ‘Killer Butterfly’ and ‘The Courier’ were published between 2008 and 2010. They formed a trilogy depicting the careers of two detectives. His fourth novel ‘Eight’, was a crime-fiction novel published in 2011. He has also published a children’s short story, ‘Goose’. With his novel, ‘Les Ruines’, he made his first foray into the genre of historical fiction. ‘Risk’ and ‘Something Old, Something New’, completed that trilogy. Apart from this, he has written, ‘Without Yesterday: Mona’s War’ the story of two young women from vastly different backgrounds whose lives collide during WWII with dramatic consequences. It was published in October 2015.
James was writing to us around that time to ask if he could contribute a story to our anthology, ‘A Pocketful of Dreams.’ I was aghast. We were a group of amateur writers; I didn’t want to let him down later. I mentioned that we were privileged to have him as part of the Magic Diary family. But it was a moment of reckoning for me. I had to come up with an anthology that even James R. Vance would be proud to be associated with someday.
Fast forward to 14 Feb 2017. I finally sent out our Press Release, with butterflies in my stomach. Soon afterwards, I heard from James:
“Thanks Jaya,  You should be proud of what you have achieved…Magic Diary is an amazing project. The Magic Diary has been an inspiration to many & for me, it sits alongside my novels as an achievement that I shall cherish forever. My hope is that it generates lots of income towards the future education of young people. I salute you and all who have contributed to its success.”
If I could, I would have done a backflip, right then…
It is hard to explain what I felt. Perched on a mountain of stress and anxiety, I was looking beyond, to something utterly glorious, at last…the fog had lifted and I had grown a pair of wings…

James’ story will appear in our next volume. Click to know more about James. R. Vance  and his list of books and those on Amazon. Contact him on his Facebook page.

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