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4.51  ·  Rating details ·  113 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Dreamers, singers, heroes and killers, they can dazzle with their beauty or their talent or their unmitigated evil, yet inside themselves they are as frail and desperate as the rest of us. But can you see them? Can you unravel the truth? These are people you know, but not as you know them.Peel back the mask and see.
Kindle Edition, First, 116 pages
Published March 25th 2020 by Smoke and Mirrors Press
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Average rating 4.51  · 
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Apr 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I have previously affirmed my love for short stories and my expanding appreciation of flash fiction. When the composition is tight and expressive, it is typically poetic with a spotlight into a moment of glorious imagination. What is even more captivating, is a book of short stories that weave a common thread and enable a fascination with the multiple perspectives of a prevailing theme.

Backstories is a collection of fourteen tales of humankind in a pivotal moment that famous and infamou
"and on the kid's thirteenth birthday he gave him a guitar, and probably saved by his life."

A collection of short "backstories" of the lives of individuals who make it happen. Every story is thought-provoking and brings up some interesting aspects that changed the course of these people.

The journey is covered in an interesting format.
Zoe Radley
Feb 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I have read this wonderful, delightful packed full of brilliant stories that leave you with a feeling of do I know this person? Who is it?. Most times you can work it out before the end but some times you have to look really hard at the clues that have been strewn throughout the short story. This book is an absolute gem, and one that takes us on a journey to discover each and every hero and villain to discover what lies behind a name. If you love short stories and you love puzzles this book is o ...more
Annie Richardson
Feb 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book of short stories, I found it easy and quick to read. I ordered a copy for my mum for her birthday as I thought she’d really enjoy the stories too, she did and had now recommended to her book club!
Lee Peacock
Feb 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I was recommended this book because of my love of 60s/70s nostalgia music, and thought I'd give it a go. Turned out to be SO MUCH MORE than that and I was hooked at every page. Loved it. ...more
Olivia Jump
Feb 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I loved that fact it was a collection of short stories - each story was gripping and interesting. I'd definitely recommend to people, no matter their preference in genre ...more
Jan 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A surprisingly varied, expertly-told series of vignettes giving us unexpected glimpses into the lives of seemlingly-familiar figures.

Simon Van De Velde presents each story as a puzzle-box; introducing a famous figure from history anonymously while dropping subtle clues as to their identity. The stories all focus on under-explored or little-known moments in their subjects' lives, providing us with new perspectives, more rounded views or even moments of unexpected pathos.

A thought-provoking read.
Jan 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant for fans of music and history. I've never read a book so fast – I turned every page in anticipation. A great read. ...more
Bronte Roberts
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I received an advanced review copy for free, and I am leaving this honest review voluntarily.

I don't know if this format has ever been used before but it's definitely new to me. So original and such a clever idea. The stories are short and precise and get their point across without any unnecessary "filler." Some of the subjects were very obvious to me, some I had to think about and a couple I couldn't get at all. I don't follow current affairs or "celebrity" news so that could be the reason, or
Gordon Long
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is a collection of short stories with a twist. As the title indicates, they are stories about famous people before they became famous. So, even when you’re enjoying the characters portrayed, you’re also playing the game of “Who is it?” The ending is often a final clue that makes it all fall into place with a satisfying click.

These stories are a wonderful demonstration of how “the child maketh the man.” Each protagonist is displayed against a finely detailed background of conspiring set
Nicola Wood
Jan 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Just finished reading a review copy of this wonderful book of short stories.

In my opinion short stories are unappreciated generally which is a huge shame (after all Brokeback Mountain and Benjamin Button are both famous short stories).

This particular collection is inspired. The central character in each of the stories is a famous person. Some are heroes, some are victims and there are even some universally accepted villains thrown in there . What the author does is use his imagination and his ob
Jessica Mallinson
Jan 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Shelves: favorites
What’s special about Backstories is that shocking, spine-tingling moment when you realize who’s head you’ve been living in for the past 15 minutes.

They say there’s a famous person hidden in every story, but that doesn’t quite capture it. More like after each fraught journey, there’s that magical moment when you realize whose eyes you’ve been seeing the world through.

The stories are so varied, from the greatest heroes to the nastiest villains. They left me excited and scared to turn the page. It’
I received a free digital version of this book from BookSirens in exchange for a review.

In this collection of pugilistic shorts, Van der Velde crafts stories of a specific incident in the life of a famous or infamous person. The incident or life circumstances is derived from available biographical information of the person’s childhood or “pre-fame” life. The person of fame is never explicitly identified and the reader must infer who it is from clues in the text.

The experience of reading these w
Bookworm Blogger
Feb 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I’d like to thank Simon Van Der Velde for sending me the audio files of Backstories. I wasn’t sure what to expect from reading the synopsis but wow did this book blow me away!

Like most fans of crime/mystery reads I’m always happy to play detective to try and solve the whodunnit as quickly as possible so this book was definitely for me! The audio was fantastic and all the narrators did a great job of portraying the characters. The accents really helped with identifying where the story was taking
Chantelle Hazelden
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Short, smart stimulus for the mind.

Backstories is a unique set of short stories that will have you really thinking. As the reader you become the detective, working out who is actually the protagonists for these tales.

I found myself whole heartedly engaged and I will admit to hitting Google to try and help me come up with the answers.

This is a book, that although short you can read multiple times and gain more answers with each read.
Joana Veríssimo
Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
This collection of short stories is so good, they're all really interesting and written masterfully for you to have clues about who it is and to kind of build that mystery, and then the moment the person who is starring this story reveals itself to you, it just adds even more to it!!! And I'll say the revelations are easy to spot, and I always ended up doing some quick reading online after, because I wanted to know what's real or not - so also very engaging in that way!!! From all the stories, I ...more
Zelda FeatzReviews
Mar 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I will be honest; I have never been a fan of short stories. When the author reached out asking if I would like to review his book I agreed with a heavy heart. I had no idea what to expect and actually left the book on the backburner for a week or so. But as the saying goes….. don’t judge a book by its cover….. having read this book, twice – I am comfortable saying that it is brilliantly creative and well worth checking out!
Be ready to have your hair blown back! This collection of short stories i
Sandra Vdplaats
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this collection of short snippets, because I was atracted by the beautiful cover and the rather Dutch-sounding surname.

These snippets takes us back to where and how it all began, and are actually more like literary riddles that are about people, some famous, some wicked, some notorious....
Sometimes it was immediately clear who the story was about, but I can well imagine that not all of them are known to the general public - which is a good thing ! - but the little breadcrumbs the au
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Takes me right back

As a child of the 70s with a love of music I’ve got to say, Backstories really took me back. Such a thrill to meet my heroes when they were so much like I was, lost souls with no idea of the dazzling future in store for them. Made me want to reach through the pages, touch them on shoulder and tell them it’d turn out alright. Better than alright. Or in a few cases, much, much worse.

But of course there was no one to tell them, and that’s what makes these stories so special.
Thomas Mulgrew
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic read with each individual character as well developed as the last. I would highly recommend to anyone!
Jacqueline  sharp
Mar 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Are you looking for a different type of read? something that might make you think. A short story that’s not in a way a short story it’s more of an excerpt from someone famous or infamous’s life. But what the reader is challenged to do is try and guess who the story or backstory is actually about before you reach the end of the chapter.

I really enjoyed this, I picked the book up at midnight thinking I would just read one chapter or one character I guess. But as I read and knew who it was about I
Kathleen Riggs
Feb 12, 2021 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book of short stories, I found it easy and quick to read. The book is about specific incident in the life of a famous or infamous person’. The author does not reveal the person and the reader must infer who it is from clues in the text. Extremely easy to read and fun working out who that famous person was.
I received an advanced review copy free from BookSirens and I am leaving this review voluntary.
Sarah Sansom
Mar 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
I was intrigued when Simon first contacted me about his book of short stories. I’m not usually a fan of short story books, but Backstories is very different from your usual fare … each of the stories is a mystery for the reader to solve. And that’s what hooked me.

How would I describe Backstories? That’s difficult as it refuses to comply with any genre boundaries I know of. So I’ll sum it up like this. If you’ve ever sat with someone - a friend, a parent, a grandparent - looking at old photos and
Anna Reid 🍃
Mar 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book was such a compelling read. The first word that comes to mind is entertaining. The entire thing was like a fun game; a new level starting with each short story.

I was immediately drawn in by the entirely unique concept and instantly loved and craved the heart-wrenching moment of realisation that came with the reveal at the end of each story. I loved that the reveal was never obvious; just enough clues splattered throughout the stories and a simple name-drop or lyric to click it all int
Whispering Stories
Mar 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Book Reviewed on

Backstories is an engaging, compelling, and completely unusual book. It contains fourteen short stories about famous/infamous people. The people can be anyone from musicians to serial killers. Each story gives you a fictional insight into the life of the person based on true events before they became famous. The unusual part comes in that we are not told who the story is about, you have to work that out for yourself given the information provided.

Most of
Linda Hill
Mar 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A collection of fourteen short stories.

Backstories is a little cracker of a book. It is a quirky and fascinating concept which, as the title obviously implies, provides the possible back stories of well known people. One of the joys of Simon Van der Velde’s writing for the reader is building the picture from the layered information and clues to try to work out exactly who he’s writing about before any reveal.

I can’t say too much about the characters as I don’t want to spoil the intrinsic enjoyme
I ❤️ Books
Mar 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
My thanks to Simon for providing a copy of Backstories in return for an honest review.

Well, Backstories is a really intriguing concept that I was delighted to take a look at. The premise of the book is to present fourteen short stories relating to well-known people from very different backgrounds. It's a diverse group of individuals from movie and pop stars to notorious murderers. The big difference with these stories is that we are not told who they are and are left to work them out for ourselv
Apr 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
 An awesome creative concept and writing skill by Simon Van Der Velde. 

Intrigued just by the premise of the book and when the author got in touch with me to review the book, I was excited to read it. 

There is a lot going for this book, and I mean it in a good way. The book to look at itself has a very eye catching cover. It's a collection of short stories of famous and notoriously infamous people, 14 of them in all and easy to finish in one day, in one sitting. The writing is simple and smart.

Amy Laidler
Mar 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Firstly a huge thank you to Simon for getting in touch and asking me to read his book, also for gifting my daughter a book of her own (which she's obsessed with!) It's been a wicked ride reading this short stories book and I have thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Can you find the famous person hidden in every story?
These are people you know, but, not as you know them. Peel back the mask and see.
From dreamers, singers, to heroes and killers, they can dazzle with their beauty or their talent, or even the
Michelle Ryles
Mar 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: galleys-read
I was immediately intrigued by the premise of Backstories but the magic was really revealed when I read an excerpt from the book. In this ingenious concept, Simon Van der Velde peels back the outer layers of famous people and enables the reader to get under their skin and inside their minds to the real person beneath. It's the mark of a talented writer when each short story has their own unique voice shining through; it's almost as if the personality of each particular character has been superna ...more
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Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, laborer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as traveling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters for his award-winning stories.

Since completing a creative writing M.A. (with distinction) in 2010, Simon’s work has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards including; The Yeovil Literary Prize, (twice), The Wasafiri New Wri

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“I’m wheelin my bike along the sidewalk, watchin all the white faces, watchin me.” 0 likes
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