Poet Paul Deaton has described The Garsdale Retreat perfectly: ‘a northern sanctuary for writers across the UK.’ Their programme offers fiction, memoir, poetry, playwriting and songwriting courses, tutored by writers such as Janice Galloway, Ian Duhig, Willy Russell, Jo Bell and many more… And the food, the bountiful food, is mouthwatering.
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Now it its eighth year, the competition seeks out unpublished novels by debut women writers.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.
I’ll be reading at ‘Story Shop’ this month, a daily short-story slot at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Story Shop is a wonderful showcase for new and emerging writers run by Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, and is now in its ninth year. Do pop into the lovely Spiegeltent on my day, Monday 31st August. And do come along any or every day at 4pm, from 15th to 31st, to enjoy this year’s Story Shop writers.
In the meantime, here are audio previews for each of the seventeen writers.
I’m so pleased to have my short story, ‘The Rooftop Busker’, appear as the title piece in this year’s New Writing Scotland anthology. I’ll be reading from my story at the Edinburgh launch in Blackwell’s bookshop 1st September. The event is free and tickets can be reserved from Blackwell’s.
This latest anthology from ASLS, edited by Gerry Cambridge and Diana Hendry, includes new work from writers such as Anne Donovan, Jim Carruth, Lesley Glaister, Vicki Jarrett and my old MLitt classmate Duncan Muir amongst many others. And it’s been lovely luxuriating in all their wonderful writing.
My short story ‘Walking Water’ is out today in the latest ‘Outsider’ issue of Popshot Magazine.
Popshot is a thing of beauty: fiction and poetry with glorious illustration. The artist Jörn Kaspuhl has illustrated my story: I love how he has caught my character, walking water.
It’s also lovely to appear alongside the talented poet Emma Simon, my fellow Jerwood/Arvon mentee. Her poem, ‘The Fish Man’, is a beautifully observed study of another character out of his natural element.
Finally, you can enjoy a taste of Popshot 13 here.
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!
The scheme, funded by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, selects three fiction writers, three poets and three playwrights to work with a mentor in their field. And so, over the next year, I’ll be working on my novel with the wonderful Ross Raisin who wrote ‘Waterline’ and, one of my all-time favourites, ‘God’s Own Country’.
I’m really looking forward to the year ahead, which starts with a masterclass residency in Arvon’s Totleigh Barton. Nine Go to Devon!