My Fiction Collection by Jay Mackie
Oh how I’d love to turn the clock back to the ‘golden age’ of fiction in British women’s weeklies! For me, this would be the late 80s to late 90s.
My name is Jay Mackie, I am 43 and I live in Nottingham where I am a composer and private music teacher. I have collected magazine fiction (and magazines) on and off since 1988, after looking forward to the Mini Mystery story in my mum’s copy of Bella each week. It’d be the first page I’d turn to. Looking back now and rereading my collection of these spanning some ten years since Bella’s 1987 launch date, these stories had it all; whodunnits, voodoo, unsettled ghosts, UFOs, an encounter with Old Nick himself and much more. These tales displayed varying literary styles and mystery content, but were always constructed with such skilful craft and elegance.
I even had a go at writing my own at the tender age of 14 and sending it to the then fiction editor, Linda O’ Byrne. I received a lovely reply from her stating her enjoyment on reading my tale, but she felt that the characters didn’t have enough ‘bite’ for her. Not bad for my first (and last!) ever story! I accepted this constructive criticism and her complimentary copies of a dozen older Mini Mysteries to add to my increasing collection.
My reason for collecting these was that someone’s careful literary toil and expert storytelling seemed too good to resign to the bin once finished. Plus, it was nice to enjoy again and compare to other stories. Over the years I have added other fiction pages to my collection too from weeklies such as Best, Take a Break and Chat mainly. The early days of Chat’s ‘4 Minute Fiction’ page from the early 90s was nice to compare with Bella, as quite a lot of the stories shared supernatural or similarly off the wall subject matter – and a few of the same writers.
Collecting vintage magazines for me is a lovely hobby if you’re nuts on nostalgia like me. Magazines provide a truly authentic and direct link to the past; the then current celeb news, advertising, vintage fashion and of course the abundance of weekly fiction. In Best’s early days some issues treated us to no less than three stories a week. Sadly as we’re all aware the world has moved on and gradually many weeklies have now ditched their fiction in favour of even MORE banal celebrity sensationalism in my view. The old content is something to be praised for its variety and enjoyed with fondness for the era.
As Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo says, only keep something if it ‘sparks joy’. That’s precisely what vintage magazines and their fiction pages do for me. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!
I’d sincerely love to hear from anyone out there who either collects magazine fiction, or magazines in general. You may well have copies of stories which would complete my collection, and vice versa to swap or just chat about. You may have even written mysteries for Bella and the like back in the ‘golden’ days, do leave a comment or drop me an email (email@example.com) – it’d be super to hear from you!