‘PURPOSE built the estate agent called it. Living cheek by jowl he thought. What if he could hear the neighbours through the wall? That would have been unheard of in his old home. The nearest house was over a mile away.’

A man wrestles with his concerns as he downsizes, encouraged to do so by his daughter.

Looking out on to the small car park, pub and patch of green, he thought back to his old house, ‘remembering the hours he had sat looking out at the horse chestnuts, stately guardians of his privacy with their creamy caldelabra and fox brown fruit.’

This sad scenario, in which many people find themselves as their life takes a different path, is brought to the pages of a new book of short stories by Saltaire-based author Chris Grogan.,

This Time Next Year - 12 tales of payback, pastry and the possibility of change - is a departure for Chris, being her first work of fiction.

She is best known for a series of walk guide books - in particular long-distance walks – she publishes with her husband Tony.

The stories have been written over the past three years. “In August 2016 I joined Shipley Library Writing Group, which is one of the ways that the Bradford Library Service encourages local writers,” she says.

Two of the stories have won competitions, one run by Ilkley Literature Festival and the other by Saltaire Craft House. One has been performed as a monologue at Leeds Pub Theatre.

Poignant and humorous, they all hint at the possibility of change in the characters’ lives.

There’s an unsettling tale about a woman, Kate, who is obsessed with ‘clean eating’, and and colour codes her food. “You’ll fade away,” her mother tells her, as the diet becomes more extreme. Kate eventually turns into little more than fresh air, becoming as one with the ‘clear foods’ - ice cubes, ginger tea and cabbage water - that she chose to live on.

And another that’s sees a woman, Gillian, take revenge of sorts on the husband who left her for another woman, moving her into the home they once shared.

‘To get to her old home Gillian would have to risk bumping into the neighbours, or, worse, being spotted by Michael. Stalking is a very ugly word and she had no idea why he’d used it. All she’d been doing was checking to see if the bay tree was surviving the winter.’

One story tells of Jenny, who has never had a friend and another of Chloe, who is dreading her wedding. ‘It doesn’t feel like my day,” she tells her mum, before hatching a plan.

These well-rounded tales grab the reader’s attention from the beginning to the often unexpected conclusion.

Dionne Hood, of Bradford Council’s library service, set up writing groups in Bradford, Shipley and Keighley libraries.

“My group meets once a fortnight,” says Chris. “We encourage each other to write, and my stories are a product of that.

“I find the support of the group invaluable. We meet and share what we have been writing.”

She adds; “I love all the events that the library service put on. I have just been to a poetry writing class in Keighley Library.”

Many of her ideas come from real life. “There is often a nugget from life that provides inspiration but also sometimes I don’t know where a story is going to go.”

Chris has a possible novel up her sleeve. “I am thinking about it, but I really like to work on stories that I can start, write and finish - I find that very satisfying.”

As well as being available to buy from Amazon, This Time Next Year is available to borrow from libraries across the Bradford district..

Helen Mead