Sub-Prime ‘A Dark Tale of Christmas’

This story has a chequered and controversial history. Originally written as ‘A Gift at Christmas’, it was for a competition run by a national newspaper group. Although it won, they would not publish it because they were worried it would distress readers who preferred not to know about life behind the scenes in a turkey farm. They were also concerned about the reaction of advertisers. So I got the money and the free dinner – which was not turkey!

The story does not actually focus on the turkeys – but is about exploitation and human trafficking. At the time of writing, there was little public awareness of this issue in the UK. Since then a few infamous examples have made it to the main media. It is a plainly written real-life story which has brought me sales and critical success.

It is not specifically a Christmas story and I was worried this would limit its shelf life, so I re-named it Sub-Prime since this relates to a central theme. Having said that, in our current economic climate and with folk starting preparations for  Christmas , this story is more relevant than ever. This week is National Short Story Week in the UK so I am pleased that Sub-Prime is featured here on the Loveahappyending blog.

The short story has always been my true milieu dating from my childhood listening to 15 minute radio tales. Now that we have the facilities to provide a free audio track with the text, I am able to go back to the true roots of fiction which is of course the spoken story. Rather like poetry, there are constant proclamations of the rebirth of the short. I believe that with attention spans withered in busy lives, the short story is the ristretto fix for folk on the run.  As with my other short story, The Chosen, the Kindle version of  Sub-Prime comes with a free audio track which is downloaded as an MP3 file. I hope you get something out of story – whether you read, or listen to it.


In the spirit of the original name of the book – A Gift At Christmas – I would like to offer 5 gift copies to Loveahappyending supporters.  The draw will take place on the 21st of December, so   the lucky winners will have their copy delivered in time for Christmas. Click this link and leave your email address to enter the draw.

Book Blurb: SUB-PRIME by Emma Calin

A #1 Kindle Best Seller in Short Stories 

Two powerless beings are swept together in a transient struggle for survival. Could the human spirit transcend the brutality and indifference of their brief experience before they are once again swept helplessly apart? Far more than a love story – this is a story about love.

Sub-Prime: a short story of our times.


Buy it from Amazon UK (£0.76) or Amazon USA (99c) in Kindle format.

Website :


Love a Happy End Author Page  





5 out of 5 stars ‘A slaughter of love,’ R Stephen Woodfin Emma Calin’s Sub-Prime is a haunting short story about the compromises people make for even an uncertain love. Calin takes a grotesque setting and mines beautiful diamonds from it. I would love to see Calin apply her formidable literary gifts to a full length novel that uses this story as its centerpiece. It only takes twenty minutes or so to read the entire piece. I guarantee the reader will find the time spent on this story well-worth the effort.Highly recommended.

5.0 out of 5 stars ‘ Top of the Line’ Christina Carson Good short stories are some of the best reads there are, and Sub-Prime is an excellent example. Calin sets the mood and scene in such desperation and bleakness that you wonder how you’ll get through it, until a momentary charity from a young foreign woman toward an out-of-work husband and father desperate to feed his family sets a new tenor. Being the writer she is, Calin masterfully holds onto both reins that guide the story, the reader never being allowed to forget the brutality of life for these people, while at the same time nurturing the spark of kindness and respect that arises and lifts them momentarily beyond the endless muck of life. A nameless woman and a man called Mike are two characters you won’t soon forget, the mark of a truly fine short story.

5 out of 5 stars ‘A dark tale of Christmas,’ Jack Durish It’s been a long time since I found a short story worthy of mention. That’s sad. I always loved them. O’Henry. L’Amour. Thurber. There were so many greats who used the medium so well. Emma Calin joins those illustrious ranks with Sub-Prime. She also obligates herself to us now to provide a collection of them. Sub-Prime is a Christmas story that that could become a classic of its genre. It tells the sad tale of a man at the end of his rope, out of work and out of money, trying to provide for his family during the holiday season. There is little hope in this story which is somehow appropriate in these dark economic times in which we live.

5.0 out of 5 stars Bert Carson Emma Calin is one of the finest authors plying the ancient trade. I make that statement for three reasons: First, because she has been there. Second, because she is willing to share what she has seen, heard, and learned. Third, because she is an amazing wordsmith.Writing without experience is akin to walking into total darkness without a light. Sub-Prime is not a fun tale, but it’s truth, and truth, even well stated, is stark, in-your-face, and eye opening. If you have the courage to read Sub-Prime you are going to experience truth told with an eloquence that is difficult to find today.

5 out of 5 stars By ‘Reader’ This story hooked me in from the very start. It’s set in the real world, not a prettified one, and the writing is excellent. Though the character is in a harsh setting, he’s not hopeless or beat-down. He can still love, he can still feel everything intensely, and he was absolutely fascinating. If you’ve ever been forced to do a job you don’t want to do because you have to feed your family (or even if you haven’t!), you’ll like this story.The setting was almost surreal in its intensity, and seemed real enough to touch. Loved it. I’ll definitely be looking for more from this author.

Please leave a comment

  1. Nicky Wells Says:

    Wow, Emma! Hats off ~ I love that you are not afraid to address gritty themes in your writing. Happy launch day and huge congrats on winning the award in the first place!! Hope it goes really well today. Rock on!

  2. Janice Says:

    Congratulations Emma – this story of our time should be read by everyone this Christmas.

  3. Chris Longmuir Says:

    Sounds fascinating, Emma

  4. Patricia Sands Says:

    This does sound like a tale that needs to be told!

  5. Harriet Grace Says:

    Sounds a tough read but very topical. Congratulations on winning the prize and on writing about something that has already endured and will go on doing so!

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