Bristol Short Story Prize 2020: Shortlisted

Collage of Bristol Prize anthology front covers

I’m thrilled to be on the shortlist for this year’s Bristol Short Story Prize. My short story, ‘Clipped’, was one of twenty chosen out of 2,705 entries — callooh and callay!

The Bristol is a prize I’ve long followed and admired. Previous winners and shortlisted writers make quite a roll call: Danielle McLaughlin, Benjamin Myers, Deepa Anappara, Dima Alzayat, Cherise Saywell and Chloe Wilson, to name a few.

Each year, The Bristol Prize also publishes an anthology of the winning and shortlisted stories; and each year, these are treats. One of my favourite publications of the year. So, I’m delighted that my story will appear in the pages of the 2020 anthology.

The anthology will launch at on online event on October 10th, when the winner and runners-up will also be announced. So although there’s sadly no award ceremony this year in Bristol, lots more folk can now take part in the online celebrations.

You can read more about the shortlisted writers here, and pre-order the anthology here.

The Society of Authors’ ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award

Banner with photos of shortlisted writers

I am thrilled, honoured and generally cock-a-hoop to have been shortlisted for the Society of Authors’ ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award! The news has been a gorgeous burst of sunshine in these strange days.

The Tom Gallon Award celebrates single short stories and runs alongside other prizes such as the Betty Trask Prize for novels and the Eric Gregory Award for poetry. This year’s judges are the brilliant Michèle Roberts and Stuart Evers.

My story, ‘High Water’, is keeping company with some great talent in this year’s shortlist: Lynda Clark, Ani Kayode Somtochukwu, Diana Powell, Wendy Riley and Catriona Ward. Previous winners and runners-up include two of my most loved short-story writers: Carys Davies and Lucy Wood.

Sadly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no awards ceremony in London this year, but there will be an online bash on the 18th June. Looking forward to it. In the meantime, I’m just hanging out with that sunshine…

All Good Things…

Woman stands my bookcase. The pages of a book flutter into the sky like birds.

I’ve come to the end of my Bridge Awards Short Story Mentorship. It was a joy.

Here’s my little interview on the Bridge Awards website.

All I’d add is how necessary awards like this are, which nurture short-story writers and the glorious, gorgeous short-story form.

Short stories consume you faster. They’re connected to brevity. With the short story, you are up against mortality. I know how tough they are as a form, but they’re also a total joy.’ — Ali Smith

 

The Bridge Awards Short Story Mentoring Award

BridgeAwards logo

The short version:

I am thrilled to announce that I have won The Bridge Awards Short Story Mentoring Award.  I will be working with the short-story writer and novelist Cherise Saywell on a short-story collection.

The more leisurely version:

Short stories are my first love. When I first went to an evening writing class—led by the wonderful Helen Lamb, a master of the short story—I wrote short stories. My first ever thrill of publication was for my story, ‘In the Museum’. When I received the news, I did a lumbering bear dance around the bedroom.

I’ve written many stories since and I’ve also worked on two novels. I relish the world-building of novels, and I especially love living through so many experiences with my novel characters. I know and understand my novel characters better than I know and understand many people.  Often, however, I feel more comfortable, and more excited, when writing short stories. And it’s not about the shorter time required to write: I don’t think short stories necessarily are quicker to write. I’ve taken years whittling away at some of my stories. It’s the intensity of the short story that I love, as both reader and writer. The closing-in on a moment that matters. Recently, I received the most astute and helpful feedback on a short story: ‘keep your character in the room’.  Don’t let her slip out that door, literal and metaphorical, until she’s confronted the truth. This , for me, sums up the delight and challenge of the short story form. As William Trevor said, ‘it should be an explosion of truth’.

I was delighted, then, when I first heard of a new opportunity offered by The Bridge Awards: a Short Story Mentoring Award, working with Cherise Saywell. It would be such a good thing to have a mentoring scheme specifically for short-story writers—who so need, and appreciate, nurture in a publishing culture that still favours novels.

So, to discover I have won this award is thrilling! Cue another lumbering bear dance. I’m already looking forward to working with Cherise on my short stories. Feedback from a writer like her is manna.  With this support, I hope to shape and gather them into a collection. Thank you, Bridge Awards.

Long live the short story!

Dancing polar bear

Shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2018

Table showcasing novels written by previous winning and shortlisted writers

Callooh! Callay! My novel, This Starling Flock, has made the shortlist for the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize 2018.

Now it its eighth year, the competition seeks out unpublished novels by debut women writers. And the prize, sponsored by the Peter Fraser and Dunlop literary agency, has proved a wonderful catalyst. Previous winners and finalists include Gail Honeyman, who went on to publish the glorious Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Catherine Chanter, author of The Well, and Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott whose novel Swan Song will be launched this summer.

More information on the six shortlisted writers is available here. I am delighted to be in such talented company.

Shortlisted for the RA & Pin Drop Short Story Award

Shortlisted writers with judges and Penelope Wilton at the Royal Academy
Shortlisted writers, judges and reader Penelope Wilton

My short story ‘Emergency’ has reached the shortlist for The RA and Pin Drop Short Award 2017. I’m thrilled.

The award is a collaboration between Pin Drop Studio and the Royal Academy of Arts that celebrates the short-story form. This is wonderful enough. Even more wonderfully, they celebrate the short story off the page—as a spoken, heard, live event. Storyteller and listeners gather around the fire (or, in this case, in a palatial room in the RA).

Each year a special guest narrates the winning story at the RA.The live reading is also made into a podcast to join Pin Drop’s fantastic archive. Previous readers include Stephen Fry and Juliet Stevenson. This year’s narrator is the mellifluous Penelope Wilton.

And so, I look forward to the awards ceremony on 23 June at the RA. Please do come on the night, if you’re around. Live short-story readings are a glorious thing.

The Totleigh Barton Magic

Pigsties

Two weeks have already passed since I returned from my Masterclass Residency at Totleigh Barton, but the magic continues… My stay was a exhilarating initiation into my year as a Jerwood/Arvon mentee. I met eight wonderful writers – you can read about them here – and we were spun into various states of creativity during our workshops. We rewrote some D.H. Lawrence; we recast fairy tales into plays, diagnosing Rapunzel with Stockholm syndrome and introducing IVF into the Sleeping Beauty story; and we wrote a load of poems in three hours. We cooked and ate and drank – very, very well. And on the final night, compèred by the incomparable Sarah, we shared readings of our work-in-progress. Time to turn to my novel in earnest. Long may the Totleigh Barton magic continue!