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A few maybes about fiction

The joy of fiction is not in finding out what the writer knows, it’s the writer finding out what we know. Characters the writer hated turn out to be better than the writer imagined. Characters the writer loved were not all they were cracked-up to be. If non-fiction is for us to find out what the author knows then maybe fiction is an exploration in which the author sets out to discover what we know. Then like other discoveries, it sounds obvious when we hear it. We knew that all along.
 
Reading fiction is following with the logic of music, notes that establish a theme, counterpoint, development, allegro, largo, andante, the theme returns, resolution… The music is out there; it’s David in a block of marble, stories in the burble of a café, the susurration of congregants, the gull cries of a spoon stirring medicine in a glass, the sound of a small hammer on tin, which turns out to be a finch, the train sound from miles away that only carries on moonless nights…
 
(And always a basketball bouncing, though nobody round here plays basketball. Always children babbling and shrieking, though there are no children round here. Sometimes a jet flies low overhead though we’re not on any flight path. Helicopters hovering where the streets are too small to land. The same Jehovah’s witnesses call every couple of months, disbelieving the mezzuzah. Visits by the Seventh Day Adventists are settling into a pattern. The Church of Latter Day Saints is overstretched. A hungry teen with crow’s feet round his eyes sells flannels from a tray while a Merc. waits round the corner. The parcelmen knock and run away.)
 
But what does it matter? Turn the page, our hero is going somewhere, to where people are and there will be tea, JD, opium and lashings of ginger ale.
 
We are the lost tribe, the lost tribe of us, enrapt in a florid delusion of consciousness, where spirits live in history, and offerings are made on stage to gods of theatre, and there are such laughable concepts as careers, status, security and wisdom. Where everyone is a shaman drunk on industry, spinning in train carriages of spear-carrying accountants, trouping in powdery makeup through jungles of wire.
 
Originally published in my blog Museum of Illusions
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Open for submissions

I’m looking forward to reading your stories each day, and seeing which ones come to the fore early on, and if they can hold that lead all the way through.

That’s what I said in this newsletter that just went out to our subscribers. If you’re thinking of subscribing to our mailing list and want to see what past newsletters were like, here is the archive.

See here for all about the competition and how to enter.

Thanks, cheers! Steve

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Our judge for 2017 – Lane Ashfeldt

We’re delighted to announce that the judge for the International Willesden Herald 2017 New Short Stories competition will be none other than the much admired and super cool Lane Ashfeldt, a writer who is no stranger to the short story form herself.

Lane Ashfeldt. Photo: H.McGinty ©2016

Lane is the author of the fiction collection ‘SaltWater’, a book of twelve short stories and a novella. A contributor to ‘Short Circuit: A Guide to the Art of the Short Story’, her stories have won several international prizes and appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals, among them Punk Fiction, Dancing With Mr Darcy, The Guardian, The London Magazine, and the Dublin Review. (Ashfeldt.com)

Lane has kindly agreed to pick the winning entries from a short list, and hopes to see an eclectic, entertaining and truly international range of writing represented on the list. We’re looking forward to reading the best stories you have, and you’ve never let us down yet. The submission window is from May to August.

The Willesden Herald New Short Stories Competition 2017

Opening date: 1 May 2017
Closing date: 31 August 2017
Word limit: 7500
Any theme

The prize fund of £1225 will be divided among the ten finalists as follows:

  • 1st Prize: The one-off Willesden Herald mug inscribed “Willesden Short Story Prize 2017” + £300
  • 2nd: £200
  • 3rd: £100
  • £75 to each of the remaining seven short-listed

Publication

  • All ten shortlisted stories will be published in “Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 10”.
  • Two copies go to each of the ten shortlisted contributors.

Entry fee: £7.50

Submit: WillesdenHerald.Submittable.com/Submit

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The Willesden Prize, Stories and Tunnels

How interesting to read Lane Ashfeldt’s take, on judging for the International Willesden Herald Short Story Prize 2017!

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Now available

I’m pleased to announce that Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 9 is now back in stock, after selling out at the launch.

Also poetry newly in stock:

Last Night’s Dream Corrected – for the first time from here

Southernmost Point Guest House – restocked

Steve

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New Short Stories 9: Awards and Launch

Willesden Green Library Centre, December 8th

Katy Darby announces the overall winner and runners-up in the Willesden Herald international short story competition 2016, and shares her responses to each of the stories. In the audience were all but one of the writers whose stories were short-listed, including some who travelled from as far away as Italy, France and America.

Towards the end of the video, it becomes clear which story has taken first prize, and we proceed to the presentation and a charming acceptance speech.

And the winner is…

First prize and the one-off mug, inscribed “Willesden Short Story Prize 2016”, and Champagne goes to Love and Hair by Olga Zilberbourg.

Katy also announced equal runners-up, receiving consolation prizes:
The Mayes County Christmas Gun Festival by David Lewis
Undercurrents by Gina Challen

In accordance with the rules, the prize fund of £750 was divided equally among the finalists, who also received two copies each of the anthology.

Here is Miranda Harrison, reading from the opening of Love and Hair by Olga Zilberbourg.

To find out who really sent the text, and what happens in the end, you will have to read Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 9. Available from Amazon.co.uk (for UK, Ireland and Europe) and Amazon.com (US and rest of the world) and other online booksellers.

The ten best short stories of 2016, are presented in the random sequence in which they were originally read, as good a system as any!, and together present a pleasing selection of contemporary fiction, or to put it more snappily:

Unspeakable secrets, disappeared husbands, bisexual love triangles, revolutionary conspiracies and African odysseys: from Sixties Paris to San Francisco, Arundel to Latin America, poets, murderers, musicians, schoolkids and festive firearms fanciers stalk these pages, waiting to greet you.

Winning Stories: Undercurrents by Gina Challen; Twisted by Tracy Fells; Looking for Nathalie by Susan Haigh; All That Remains by Rob Hawke; The Volcano by Anna Lewis; The Mayes County Christmas Gun Festival by David Lewis; The Cliffs of Bandiagara by Catherine McNamara; Supersum by Barbara Robinson; Last Call at the Rialto by Daniel Waugh; Love and Hair by Olga Zilberbourg

With an introduction by 2016 judge, Katy Darby

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Results and Book Launch – Willesden December 8th

Why not come to our results and book launch event this Thursday at Willesden Library Centre, from 7:30 pm? We’re putting on a terrific show as well as announcing the overall winner for 2016 and prizegiving. Professional actors will bring short excerpts from some of the finalist stories to life.

This is a FREE EVENT, venue capacity 100 seated. Refreshments will be provided. First come, first served.

For more details, see this Facebook event listing.

OUR ACTORS*

tony-bellTony Bell. Evening Standard Award nominee for A Man for All Seasons, Tony Bell has performed all over the world with award-winning all-male Shakespeare company, Propeller, playing Bottom, Feste, Autolycus and Tranio. TV includes Coronation Street, Holby City, Midsomer Murders, EastEnders & The Bill. He recently played Brian Clough’s sidekick Peter Taylor in the stage adaptation of The Damned United at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. He also appeared in Phelin McDermott’s Improbable production of The Tempest. He now splits his time between directing in drama schools, acting and occasionally reading great stories. He is also a radio and voiceover artist.

miranda-harrisonMiranda Harrison Actor, voiceover artist and storyteller, Miranda Harrison is a regular performer with Liars’ League, including performances at The National Gallery and the Literary Pub Crawl. Other spoken word credits include book reading and performance art events. Miranda is regularly cast in rehearsed readings for new theatre writing, and she also runs new writing event Page to Stage. Stage credits range from the classics (e.g. Romeo & Juliet; Blood Wedding) to contemporary (e.g. The Memory of Water; The Vagina Monologues). Voiceover work includes BBC Children in Need, online tutorials and a best-selling English-language teaching pack for Italian teenagers. www.mirandaharrison.co.uk

peter-kennyPeter Kenny has worked for A&BC, The Royal Shakespeare Co. and The BBC Radio Drama Co. An award-winning recorder of audio-books, he has read over 100 titles, everything from Iain M. Banks, Neil Gaiman, and Andrzej Sapkowski to Jonas Jonasson and Paul O’Grady “…from the sublime to the cor blimey!”  Visit peterkenny.com

* Courtesy of Liars’ League

New Short Stories 9

  • All That Remains by Rob Hawke
  • The Cliffs of Bandiagara by Catherine McNamara
  • Last Call at the Rialto by Daniel Waugh
  • Looking for Nathalie by Susan Haigh
  • Love and Hair by Olga Zilberbourg
  • The Mayes County Christmas Gun Festival by David Lewis
  • Supersum by Barbara Robinson
  • Twisted by Tracy Fells
  • Undercurrents by Gina Challen
  • The Volcano by Anna Lewis

Meet the Authors

gina-challenGina Challen is originally from London. She moved to West Sussex in 1979. In 2012, she left her job as an insurance broker to complete a masters degree in creative writing. This she fondly refers to as her mid-life crisis. Although originally a city girl, the farmsteads and woods of the downlands hold her heart, they are the inspiration for her writing, the landscape to which she knows she belongs. Previously, her stories have been anthologised in The Bristol Short Story Prize Volume 8 2015, the Cinnamon Press Short Story Award collections 2012 & 2013, and the Willesden Herald New Short Stories 8, 2014 and Rattle Tales 2, 2012. Two of her stories were shortlisted for the prestigious Bridport Prize in 2014. You can also find her stories and critical essays online with Ink Tears and Storgy magazines and Thresholds Short Story Forum. She is currently working on a short story collection. www.ginachallen.co.uk

tracy_fellsTracy Fells lives close to the South Downs in glorious West Sussex. She has won awards for both fiction and drama. Her short stories have appeared in Firewords Quarterly, The Yellow Room and Writer’s Forum, online at Litro New York, Short Story Sunday and in anthologies such as Fugue, Rattle Tales and A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed. Competition success includes short-listings for the Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize, Brighton Prize, Fish Short Story and Flash Fiction Prizes. Tracy completed her MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University in 2016 and is currently seeking representation for a crime mystery novel and her short story collection. She shares a blog with The Literary Pig (tracyfells.blogspot.co.uk) and tweets as @theliterarypig.

susan-haighSusan Haigh returned to northeast Fife in 2013, having spent eight years living in a cave house in the Loire Valley. She had previously worked on a series of short stories, supported by a Scottish Book Trust mentoring scheme, and continued to write stories and a novel in a caravan under a vine by a river (not as glamorous as it sounds!). Her work has won several awards in Britain and the USA and has been published in Mslexia, Cadenza Magazine, Sunpenny Anthology, New Writing Dundee 8, Beginning Anthology, the Scottish Arts Club Short Story Awards website, the Women of Dundee and Books anthology and a number of American journals and anthologies.  In 2016 she appeared on a short list of six for a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award and published poems in Scottish literary journals, Northwords Now, Gutter Magazine and the StAnza Map of Scotland in Poems. She was also a finalist in the 2016 Scottish Arts Club Short Story Competition. She reviews and interviews for a number of journals, including Dundee University Review of the Arts. She teaches German at Dundee University.

rob-hawke-picRob Hawke lives and works in Camberwell, London. His short fiction has featured in Momaya Short Story Review and Shooter Literary Magazine, and he holds an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from University of Sussex. He is currently working on his first full length novel, a political drama set in South West England. To support his writing Rob works part time at a psychology institute.

anna-lewis-photoAnna Lewis’s stories have appeared in journals including New Welsh Review and The Interpreter’s House. Her stories and poems have won several awards, and she was short-listed for the Willesden Herald short story prize in 2013. She is the author of two poetry collections: Other Harbours (Parthian, 2012) and The Blue Cell (Rack Press, 2015). She lives in Cardiff.

david-lewisDavid Lewis grew up in Oklahoma, did an MA at UCL in London and now lives in Paris. His short stories and essays have appeared in J’aime mon quartier, je ramasse, Chelsea Station, Liars’ League, The 2013 Fish Anthology, Indestructible and Talking Points Memo. He irregularly posts essays and translations on Medium, as @dwlewis.

catherine-mcnamaraCatherine McNamara grew up in Sydney, ran away to Paris to write, and ended up in West Africa running a bar. She was an embassy secretary in pre-war Mogadishu, and has worked as an au pair, graphic designer, translator, English teacher and shoe model. Her short story collection Pelt and Other Stories was long-listed for the Frank O’Connor Award and semi-finalist in the Hudson Prize. Her work has been Pushcart-nominated and published in the U.K., Europe, U.S.A. and Australia. Catherine lives in Italy.

barbara-robinsonBarbara Robinson was born in Manchester where she still lives, writes and works. She writes short stories and is currently working on her first novel, Elbow Street.

 

dan-waugh-4Daniel Waugh was born in London and has lived in France and Yorkshire. He lives in Wimbledon with his wife, three-year-old daughter and black cat. ‘Last Call at the Rialto’ is his first short story.

 

olga-zilberbourgOlga Zilberbourg grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia and moved to the United States at the age of seventeen. Her English-language fiction is forthcoming from World Literature Today, Feminist Studies, and California Prose Directory; stories have appeared in J Journal, Epiphany, Narrative Magazine, Printers Row, Hobart, Santa Monica Review, among others. She serves as a co-facilitator of the weekly San Francisco Writers Workshop.

 

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This just in

It’s looking great. The book is a bit stiff because it’s brand new. Here I try to flick through the pages while it does its best to resist. (Steve)

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2016 – New Short Stories 9

Contents

  • “The Volcano” by Anna Lewisnss9front
  • “The Cliffs of Bandiagara” by Catherine McNamara
  • “Supersum” by Barbara Robinson
  • “Twisted” by Tracy Fells
  • “The Mayes County Christmas Gun Festival” by David Lewis
  • “Undercurrents” by Gina Challen
  • “Love and Hair” by Olga Zilberbourg
  • “Last Call at the Rialto” by Daniel Waugh
  • “Looking for Nathalie” by Susan Haigh
  • “All that Remains” by Rob Hawke

Unspeakable secrets, disappeared husbands, bisexual love triangles, revolutionary conspiracies and African odysseys: from Sixties Paris to San Francisco, Arundel to Latin America, poets, murderers, musicians, schoolkids and festive firearms fanciers stalk these pages, waiting to greet you.

With an introduction by 2016 judge, Katy Darby

nss9backAvailable from:

isbn: 978-0-9852133-7-4

Contributors

gina-challenGina Challen is originally from London. She moved to West Sussex in 1979. In 2012, she left her job as an insurance broker to complete a masters degree in creative writing. This she fondly refers to as her mid-life crisis. Although originally a city girl, the farmsteads and woods of the downlands hold her heart, they are the inspiration for her writing, the landscape to which she knows she belongs. Previously, her stories have been anthologised in The Bristol Short Story Prize Volume 8 2015, the Cinnamon Press Short Story Award collections 2012 & 2013, and the Willesden Herald New Short Stories 8, 2014 and Rattle Tales 2, 2012. Two of her stories were shortlisted for the prestigious Bridport Prize in 2014. You can also find her stories and critical essays online with Ink Tears and Storgy magazines and Thresholds Short Story Forum. She is currently working on a short story collection. www.ginachallen.co.uk

tracy_fellsTracy Fells lives close to the South Downs in glorious West Sussex. She has won awards for both fiction and drama. Her short stories have appeared in Firewords Quarterly, The Yellow Room and Writer’s Forum, online at Litro New York, Short Story Sunday and in anthologies such as Fugue, Rattle Tales and A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed. Competition success includes short-listings for the Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize, Brighton Prize, Fish Short Story and Flash Fiction Prizes. Tracy completed her MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University in 2016 and is currently seeking representation for a crime mystery novel and her short story collection. She shares a blog with The Literary Pig (tracyfells.blogspot.co.uk) and tweets as @theliterarypig.

susan-haighSusan Haigh returned to northeast Fife in 2013, having spent eight years living in a cave house in the Loire Valley. She had previously worked on a series of short stories, supported by a Scottish Book Trust mentoring scheme, and continued to write stories and a novel in a caravan under a vine by a river (not as glamorous as it sounds!). Her work has won several awards in Britain and the USA and has been published in Mslexia, Cadenza Magazine, Sunpenny Anthology, New Writing Dundee 8, Beginning Anthology, the Scottish Arts Club Short Story Awards website, the Women of Dundee and Books anthology and a number of American journals and anthologies.  In 2016 she appeared on a short list of six for a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award and published poems in Scottish literary journals, Northwords Now, Gutter Magazine and the StAnza Map of Scotland in Poems. She was also a finalist in the 2016 Scottish Arts Club Short Story Competition. She reviews and interviews for a number of journals, including Dundee University Review of the Arts. She teaches German at Dundee University.

rob-hawke-picRob Hawke lives and works in Camberwell, London. His short fiction has featured in Momaya Short Story Review and Shooter Literary Magazine, and he holds an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from University of Sussex. He is currently working on his first full length novel, a political drama set in South West England. To support his writing Rob works part time at a psychology institute.

anna-lewis-photoAnna Lewis’s stories have appeared in journals including New Welsh Review and The Interpreter’s House. Her stories and poems have won several awards, and she was short-listed for the Willesden Herald short story prize in 2013. She is the author of two poetry collections: Other Harbours (Parthian, 2012) and The Blue Cell (Rack Press, 2015). She lives in Cardiff.

david-lewisDavid Lewis grew up in Oklahoma, did an MA at UCL in London and now lives in Paris. His short stories and essays have appeared in J’aime mon quartier, je ramasse, Chelsea Station, Liars’ League, The 2013 Fish Anthology, Indestructible and Talking Points Memo. He irregularly posts essays and translations on Medium, as @dwlewis.

catherine-mcnamaraCatherine McNamara grew up in Sydney, ran away to Paris to write, and ended up in West Africa running a bar. She was an embassy secretary in pre-war Mogadishu, and has worked as an au pair, graphic designer, translator, English teacher and shoe model. Her short story collection Pelt and Other Stories was long-listed for the Frank O’Connor Award and semi-finalist in the Hudson Prize. Her work has been Pushcart-nominated and published in the U.K., Europe, U.S.A. and Australia. Catherine lives in Italy.

barbara-robinsonBarbara Robinson was born in Manchester where she still lives, writes and works. She writes short stories and is currently working on her first novel, Elbow Street.

 

dan-waugh-4Daniel Waugh was born in London and has lived in France and Yorkshire. He lives in Wimbledon with his wife, three-year-old daughter and black cat. ‘Last Call at the Rialto’ is his first short story.

 

olga-zilberbourgOlga Zilberbourg grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia and moved to the United States at the age of seventeen. Her English-language fiction is forthcoming from World Literature Today, Feminist Studies, and California Prose Directory; stories have appeared in J Journal, Epiphany, Narrative Magazine, Printers Row, Hobart, Santa Monica Review, among others. She serves as a co-facilitator of the weekly San Francisco Writers Workshop.

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Update: Book Launch and Results Event in Willesden

This is a copy of the newsletter that went out this evening to all our subscribers.

The shortlist is in.
The book is with the printers.
And we’re going to have a wingding.

Dear reader, thanks to those of you who entered or took an interest this year. It was a privilege and an adventure reading the submissions, of which there were 344. And it wasn’t easy narrowing them down to just ten, there was fierce contention for the places on the shortlist. Below you will see the ten stories that made it all the way. On December 8th in Willesden, Katy Darby will reveal which one has taken the Willesden Herald short story prize 2016. Cheers, Steve Moran (Editor)

RESULTS & BOOK LAUNCH

With excerpts from the short-lsited stories read by actors from Liars’ League

The Performance Space
Willesden Green Library Centre
7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Thursday 8 December

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1298863413481275/

nss9front
Cover art by Stratos Fountoulis

SHORTLIST

  • All That Remains by Rob Hawke
  • The Cliffs of Bandiagara by Catherine McNamara
  • Last Call at the Rialto by Daniel Waugh
  • Looking for Nathalie by Susan Haigh
  • Love and Hair by Olga Zilberbourg
  • The Mayes County Christmas Gun Festival by David Lewis
  • Supersum by Barbara Robinson
  • Twisted by Tracy Fells
  • Undercurrents by Gina Challen
  • The Volcano by Anna Lewis

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