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Book Launch: Backward Glance

Sunday, 3 October 2021

Paul Degnan hosted a Book Launch at Wadsworth Community Centre on Wednesday evening to promote his new publication Backward Glance – a collection of short stories

Well attended by 30 people including friends and family, the audience enjoyed Paul reading snippets from six of the stories in his collection including the title story ‘Backward Glance’, ‘The Masquerade’ and ‘Secret Garden.’


A varied collection of short stories, many have been inspired by walking in the local landscape, covering themes of love, loss, lockdown and reconciliation, seasoned with a sense of playfulness and humour about the human condition.

Paul Degnan moved to Hebden Bridge in 1973, part of the hippy wave that settled in the area. A single parent for many years, he set up Aurora Foods Wholefood shop in Market Street in 1974 and then in 1976 lived off grid in a caravan in the west country for three years. Returning to the valley in 1980, he remarried and embarked on a career in social care. For ten years from the mid 1990s he helped to run the Shaggy Dog Storytellers Club based in the Stubbing Wharf pub.

On retiring in 2013, Paul joined a creative writing group from where this collection of short stories evolved. Now living in Old Town, many of these stories have been inspired by the local landscape.

“Storyteller Paul Degnan draws from a lifelong love of traditional tales, songs and folklore to produce a debut of varied and engaging tales, empowered by the past, but frequently imagined into the perilous world of the present. Small parts of that world (especially the valleys and hills of Upper Calder), are conjured into existence, but his characters’ dilemmas often nudge us to reflect on more universal themes.” George Murphy, Author

“This collection of short stories is a breath of fresh air: gentle rambles through the uplands of Britain and the daily lives of a score of interesting characters, each with their own voice and preoccupations.  The tone varies from lyrical to humorous.  With a light touch, Paul Degnan links us to the deep past and what it means to be a human alone and within a community.” Isobel Holland, Artist

“A varied collection of stories, by turn, nostalgic, poignant, mysterious and humorous, but all imbued with a keen sense of place, especially the landscape of Northern England. Paul regards everything with a sharp, but sympathetic eye, be it one of his human characters, or an animal, tree or stone.” Ingrid Burney, Storyteller.

Backward Glance is now available to purchase from The Book Case on Market Street for £6-95p and as an E-book on Amazon - Apple - Kobo