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Now it its eighth year, the competition seeks out unpublished novels by debut women writers.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.
This short-story anthology explores love in all its various shapes and hues—from the familial to the erotic, from the illusory to the enduring— and includes writers such as Carys Bray, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Donal Ryan and Nikesh Shukla.
My short story, ‘Holdfast’, came runner-up in the Sceptre Loves Short Story Prize, launched to mark the publication of this beautiful anthology. And so, I’ll be reading from this story on Thursday 10th August, in Waterstones Gower Street, alongside the shortlisted writers and the winner Phoebe Roy. Roy’s story is now published in this new paperback edition. Please do come along, one and all, if you’re nearby. Come listen to stories that ask just how much the heart can hold…
(As for that rather lovely title? Zelda Fitzgerald: ‘Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.’)
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.
Fifteen short stories and poems, all set in off-the-beaten-track Edinburgh, have been magicked into geolocated podcasts. Listeners, using the Podwalk app, can stray, escape, gambol away from the familiar tourist trail and experience Edinburgh as imagined by fifteen writers. Or, for folks who prefer to enjoy their literature on the sofa, in bed, at a café table, in the garden shed, you can listen to or read the stories and poems direct from the Echoes website on SoundCloud .
My story, ‘Pufferfish’, is set in Edinburgh’s Regent pub.
And so, I look forward to the launch next Tuesday, 16 May, and taking my first Echoes tour.
My short story, ‘Holdfast’, has been selected as a runner-up in the Sceptre Loves Short Story Competition. So pleased. I’ve grown very fond of this story, which has shapeshifted a mighty lot since I first sketched it out several years ago, and was also the starting point for my current novel-in-progress.
Sceptre ran this competition to celebrate the publication of How Much the Heart Can Hold: an anthology of short stories exploring all shapes and temperatures of love, from the platonic to the passionate to the lasting.
The winning story by Phoebe Roy will appear in the paperback anthology, to be launched in August. Commissioned writers include the wonderful Donal Ryan, Bernadine Evaristo and Carys Bray.
Tomorrow is Robert Louis Stevenson Day in Edinburgh – the annual celebration of all things RLS. This year’s theme is Stevenson on Screen and Stage and so the Scottish Storytelling Centre will be hosting a day-long banquet of readings and film clips. I’ll be reading from the wonderfully ghoulish short story ‘The Bodysnatcher’ around 11am. Other readers include Louise Welsh and my fellow Story Shoppers Kirsty Venters-Marks, Helen McClory and Pab Roberts. Do drop by…
The latest issue of The Lampeter Review is out today and, to my delight, includes my short story ‘White Nudes’.
The Lampeter Review is the child of the Lampeter Creative Writing Centre and publishes new and emerging writers while also commissioning established authors. Issue 12 includes a short story by Cynan Jones, whose novel The Dig I just love.
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.