More info has come our way about the mysterious Writing Retreats in the Welsh Borders which form part of this year’s short story competition prize. LitCamp, who some of you may remember, is putting on a spate of retreats in the New Year. “If you plan to get real with writing a book in the new year, check it out. You can even drop Xmas hints about this to your nearest and dearest as EarlyBird tickets rates run until 24 December – you heard it here first. Or, Plan B, win the short story comp!”
The priceless trophy has arrived from our secret, latter day Fabergé cup maker. The true, the one and only 2014 prize mug.
Virginia Gilbert’s A Long Way from Home starring James Fox, Brenda Fricker and Natalie Dormer opens at cinemas throughout the UK this December. Virginia is a previous winner of the Willesden Herald short story competition. We reported recently on the launch of her novel Travelling Companion.
The View from the Tower by Charles Lambert is now available for pre-order on Amazon UK and US. It has been described as ‘a literary and psychologically charged murder mystery that slowly cuts deep to the bone’ and is a prequel to Charles’s previous novel Any Human Face. (More)
Charles Lambert is the judge for this year’s Willesden short story competition.
Actress Brenda Fricker with Virginia Gilbert at the launch of Virginia’s debut novel Travelling Companion at Dubray books, Grafton Street, Dublin, 12th September 2013. Writer and film director Virginia Gilbert’s story “Winter Lambing” took first prize in last year’s Willesden Herald international short story competition. You can read it in New Short Stories 6. Probably fair to blow a little trumpet or at least a party whistle for ourselves to celebrate the continuing success of our writers.
Thanks to LitCamp, the first prize this year now includes a writing retreat at a bookish guesthouse in Knighton/Tref-y-Clawdd, which is set amid “the lush, rolling countryside of the Welsh Marches”. It’s one week, half board, travel expenses not included. Write like demons.
We are delighted and honoured that the acclaimed writer, Charles Lambert, has agreed to be our judge for the 2013-14 international Willesden Herald short story prize.
“Born in England, Charles Lambert has been living in Italy since 1980. His début novel, Little Monsters, was published by Picador in March 2008 and his story The Scent of Cinnamon was selected as one of the O Henry Prize Stories 2007. … He now lives in Fondi, exactly halfway between Rome and Naples, a stone’s throw from what was once the Appian Way.” (guardian.co.uk)
Charles’ second novel “Any Human Face” was published by Picador in May 2010. Just this year, his agent made the following announcement: “The Blake Friedmann Literary Agency is pleased to announce two new deals with UK publishers for Charles Lambert. Angry Robot’s crime imprint, has acquired World English Language rights to two novels by Charles Lambert. The first to be published will be THE VIEW FROM THE TOWER, a gripping psychological thriller about friendship, love and betrayal, which begins with the killing of a high-level Italian civil servant when his wife is in a Rome hotel room with her lover, not far from the scene of the assassination. She must cut through the complex web of deceit that surrounds her in order to discover who is responsible.” (Charles Lambert – Wordpress).
You can see that only the highest standard of writing will suffice to set before this writers’ writer, also very much a readers’ writer. So you’d better round up those stray stories, throw a bucket of water over them and start schooling them if they are going to get anywhere in the annual Willesden story gala. Opening 1 August 2013.
Photo credit: Patrizia Casamirra
Description The best new short stories of 2013, as submitted to the Willesden Herald international short story competition. This year we are transported to locations in Australia, Britain, Ireland, Italy and Nigeria as vividly as in a waking dream. Relationships within and around families are played out in dramatic scenes of crisis, social alienation, dark humour and ultimately compassion. All in the company of ten writers with effulgent and compelling narrative gifts.
Publisher Pretend Genius Press, 1 May 2013
- “Hangman” by Angela Sherlock
- “Donor” by Nici West
- “The Gift” by Alistair Daniel
- “Last Payment” by Anna Lewis
- “Rip” by Merryn Glover
- “All Its Little Sounds and Silences” by Barnaby Walsh
- “Round Fat Moon and Jingling Stars” by Marie Murphy
- “Dance Class” by SJ Bradley
- “Bolt” by Thomas Morris
- “Holidaying with the Megarrys” by Danielle McLaughlin
We are transported to locations in Australia, Britain, Ireland, Italy and Nigeria as vividly as in a waking dream. Relationships within and around families are played out in dramatic scenes of crisis, social alienation, dark humour and ultimately compassion. All in the company of ten writers with compelling narrative gifts.
SJ Bradley is a writer from Yorkshire. Her work has been published in various magazines and anthologies, and she was one of Untitled Books’ New Voices of 2011. She is one of the organising party behind Leeds-based DIY writers’ night Fictions of Every Kind, a venture which aims to give support and encouragement to anyone engaged in the lonely act of writing. Her work as a letterpress printer involves keeping the old skills of letterpress alive through practise and salvage. She lives with her partner and cat.
Alistair Daniel lives in Liverpool and teaches creative writing for the Open University. He was short-listed for the 2010 Bridport Prize and his short stories have been published in Narrative, Stand, Untitled Books, The Irish Times and The Stinging Fly. He is completing his first novel, supported by the Arts Council and a Charles Pick Fellowship from the University of East Anglia.
Merryn Glover is Australian, grew up in Nepal, India and Pakistan, and now lives in the Highlands of Scotland. She writes both stories and plays, with work broadcast on Radio 4 and published in a range of journals and newspapers including The Edinburgh Review, Wasafiri and The Guardian. She has recently completed her first novel, set in India.
Anna Lewis was born in 1984. In 2010 she won the Orange/Harper’s Bazaar short story competition, and in 2011 was selected by the Hay Festival to take part in the Scritture Giovani short story project. Her debut poetry collection, Other Harbours, was published by Parthian in 2012.
Danielle McLaughlin lives in County Cork, Ireland. Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Long Story Short, The Burning Bush 2, The Stinging Fly, Inktears, Southword, Boyne Berries, Crannóg, Hollybough, on the RTE TEN website, on RTE Radio and in various anthologies. She has won a number of prizes for short fiction including The Writing Spirit Award for Fiction 2010, the From the Well Short Story Competition 2012 and the William Trevor/Elizabeth Bowen International Short Story Competition 2012.
Thomas Morris is from Caerphilly, South Wales. He has previously published short fiction in The Irish Times, The Moth, and ETO. In 2012, he received an Emerging Artist Bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland. Currently enrolled in the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia, Thomas is working on a collection of short stories set in Caerphilly, and a novel, Second Best: The Diaries of a Substitute Goalkeeper.
Marie Murphy began to write full-time three years ago. In 2012, she was a finalist in the Novel Fair run by The Irish Writers’ Centre in Dublin. Also in 2012 she was long-listed for the Power’s Short Story Competition. Marie grew up on a farm in north Cork but has worked in England, France and Ireland (chambermaid, waitress, cook, cleaner, lady’s companion, nurse’s assistant.) On qualifying from University College, Cork, (B.A. H. Dip. Ed.) she taught in England and Ireland. Married with three children, she lives in the country in west Cork where she is currently working on a novel of connected short stories.
Angela Sherlock has worked in engineering and in education but now lives in Devon where she writes full time. She has published reviews and articles but now concentrates on fiction. Her first novel, The Apple Castle, (as yet unpublished) was long-listed for the Virginia Prize and short-listed for the Hookline Novel Writing Competition. She has published some short stories and is currently working on a novel that draws on the history of Plymouth. Hangman, her second story to be short-listed by Willesden Herald is from her collection, Exports, which explores the Irish Diaspora.
Nici West likes to write short stories and is tying her brain in knots trying to write a novel. She was born in Essex and is making her way up North, currently living in Manchester. She recently completed an MA in Creative Writing from The University of Manchester and spends her days writing, looking after two guinea pigs and producing literature projects.
Barnaby Walsh originally studied theoretical physics by mistake, but recently completed his master’s in creative writing at the University of Manchester. He lives up north, in Bolton.
From “Kid in a Well” by Willie Davis
“Oh yeah,” Jesse said. “You wouldn’t want her to think the seventeen year-old who spends his vacation ogling her was unsophisticated.”
“Right,” I said. “So I go in and take out the Gideon’s Bible. My mom left her compact in the sink, so I taped it on the inside pages. That way, I could admire my new moustache without seeming vain in front of her.”
From “Mrs. Nakamoto Takes a Vacation” by Steve Finbow
Later that evening in an izakaya in Ginza over beer and yakitori, Mrs. Matsuda, slightly drunk, admitted to Mrs. Nakamoto that her husband beat her. He would come home from work, eat his food in silence, read the newspaper’s sports section and, after neatly folding it, would nod his head. Mrs. Matsuda would strip naked, bend over a chair and Mr. Matsuda, taking a three-foot bamboo cane from the kitchen cupboard, would issue a dozen lashes to Mrs. Matsuda’s buttocks. … Looking up, she smiled and in a voice Mrs. Nakamoto could barely hear Mrs. Matsuda said that she was embarrassed to admit it but, yes, she quite enjoyed it.
From “Jolt” by James Lawless
Three or four goats appear and start following them. They frighten him as they get closer with their horns, bells tinkling. She laughs at him. He’s embarrassed. Kathleen knows goats. They had them on the farm in Galway.
She sheds her shyness in the open countryside. She wants to make love al fresco. There is no one about except for the goats. She breathes in deeply the fragrance of the pines. Lying down on the scorched earth, she loosens her blouse, drawing him into her. ‘Is it possible, Michael? Say it’s possible.’
From “Paradise” by Nicholas Hogg
My father was born at the height of clouds. He entered the world wailing, lungs pumping the mountain air and desperate for oxygen. He lived because he had the breath of a Kalenjin, as had his father and his grandfather before, a long line of proud and noble descendants from the ancient tribe of highlanders from the hills of the Great Rift Valley.
He grew up at an altitude where visiting relatives from the lowlands fainted and had to sit and take a rest from the sky. A village where the rhythm of life was set by the stars and the moon, the sun and the rain, a village where horseless cowboys herded the cattle, and my father and his brothers ran down the strays barefoot.
Like all Kalenjin boys he ran everywhere. He ran to school. He ran home from school. He ran to gather firewood. He ran to the river to fetch water and spilt none running back. He ran but did not race. Running was not a sport. It was a way of life.
From “The Dead Don’t Do That Kind of Thing” by Wes Lee
“She was my twin!” Claire shouted.
The word felt terrible in her mouth, something fell away as she said it; halved and fell like a fleshy fruit – an overripe babaco. She tasted the sweet, slightly putrid hit at its core. My twin, she hadn’t wanted to say it, she hadn’t wanted to let it out, she hadn’t wanted it to escape from her body and lose it forever. But Alison had made her say it. As if someone living, breathing in the world could be blind to the simple fact that Deborah had been her twin.
From “Dodie’s Gift” by Vanessa Gebbie
There is a little blood on the sand, in a hollow in the dunes. There is semen too, although it is hidden in the shadows where sand and grass have been churned. The blood is clear, scarlet, bright; both its colour and its brightness out of place in the soft grey-green and pale straw colours here. It will fade soon, darken until it’s almost black, and it will be lost when a herring gull chooses this place to bring the head of a newly dead catfish. He will drop it, stand over it, stabbing at it with his yellow hooked beak, parting skin from muscle, lip from cheek, eye from socket, until all that is left is a mess of reddened bone and one thin sliver of catfish skin with a feeler still attached.
From “Charles Magezi-Akiiki/Daphne Darling” by Olesya Mishechkina
Across the street from my building, men replace the swamp cooler of an expensive restaurant with air conditioning. They drill. It scares the birds away. The windows framed by the thin walls of my apartment shake. I have to listen to it when I come home from work.
From “Atlantic Drift” by Arthur Allan
I want to tell you something that happened out here today. I hope you don’t mind.
One moment it was bright as ever; the next, a massive slate cloud in front of the sun. Migrating birds, flying low. Thousands of them.
The wings pumped in synch, the uniforms of grey plumage passed in their great repeating pattern. The noise terrified me. A clamour of bullying squawks: keep going, don’t pause, this is the way, this is what we do, this is the only direction.
When they had passed, one bird was left behind. It had taken refuge on the deck, exhausted. It wore a stunned, lopsided look as the din of the others faded.
For a while it shuffled gimpishly about. Then it stopped. Only its eyes twitched, aware that it was being watched. And people did glance at it as they passed, with disgust and embarrassment, hoping it would go away so they wouldn’t have to deal with it.
It was gone when I went back above after supper. I suppose someone kicked it overboard.
My love (if I may),