Saturday, 23 February 2013

'Carys Bray and Carol Shields: Whimsy and Artifice'

My PhotoI had a lovely surprise this morning when I woke up to a Tweet from @BristolPrize about a blog post by Professor Charles May: 'Carys Bray and Carol Shields: Whimsy and Artifice'.

Professor May writes a blog called Reading the Short Story. He is one of the leading literary scholars of the short story and has published numerous books on the subject including Edgar Allan Poe: A Study of the Short Fiction (1993), New Short Story Theories (1994), The Short Story: The Reality of Artifice (1995), and Critical Survey of Short Fiction (2001).

I mailed a copy of Sweet Home to Professor May earlier this year. I didn't expect a response because I know how busy academics are (even, or perhaps especially, retired academics). So I was delighted to read Professor May's piece about Sweet Home and the short stories of Carol Shields.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Sarah Hall Reading

Sarah HallEdge Hill's Creative Writing programme will host an evening with novelist and short story writer, Sarah Hall on Wednesday 27th February at 7:30pm. 

Hall is the author of four prizewinning novels, including The Carhullan Army and The Electric Michelangelo, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2004. Her first short story collection, The Beautiful Indifference, won the Edge Hill Prize 2012, along with the Edge Hill Readers' Prize. I'm really looking forward to this event. Sarah Hall uses beautiful, original descriptions in her fiction and I can't wait to hear her read. Her story 'Butcher's Perfume' is available to read here

I've been asked to read a story from Sweet Home at the start of the evening - I'm all wrapped up in novel thoughts, so it will be nice to do something short story-ish.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Playing Catch Up

I promised myself I wouldn't write another blog post until I had finished the first draft of my novel. As usual, this took much longer than expected (and the final scene still needs a lot more work) but I have finally written something that pretty much resembles a novel - hooray!

Now for some catching up:

Hitting Trees With SticksSpellbound: Stories of women's magic over men

I recently reviewed Jane Rogers' wonderful collection Hitting Trees With Sticks for The Short Review. Here's an excerpt from the review:
My favourite story was the funny and sad Sports Leader, the tale of a dull, slow, boy who cleans windows. The boy enjoys collecting money in the evenings because he likes standing in the warm light of other people’s doorways. I felt like the boy as I read this collection; I liked the glimpses of other lives, the music of people’s words, the smells and sounds of places I’ve never visited, but most of all, I enjoyed basking in the warm light of these beautiful stories.
And I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of Joel Willans' collection Spellbound: Stories of Women's Magic Over Men. Here's an excerpt from the review:
Many of these stories are sad, but they aren't sentimental or maudlin. `Buy Ma Biscuits Or Kiss Ma Fish' is a narrative spiked by doubt and self-loathing, but the ending is ultimately optimistic, and in the whimsical `The Grounding of Tiffany Hope,' a woman's ability to float tugs at her `like a kite on a string.' Vanessa Gebbie describes Willans' stories as `sharp, original and observant, with a generous helping of humour.' I have to agree. I really enjoyed this collection. 

The Friday Gospels by Jenn AshworthI went to the launch of Jenn Ashworth's new novel The Friday Gospels on a snowy night in January. I think The Friday Gospels is the first ever novel about British Mormons (I certainly don't know of any others) and it's technically brilliant, dark and funny - everything you'd expect from Ashworth. 

I was interviewed by writer Paul McVeigh and I also had a story published in Litro, 'My Brother is Missing'. The piece started life as an essay, but it felt flat, so I worked it into a story instead.

I think that's everything. Right, off to mark 45 pieces of coursework, write a review, put together a guest blog post and work on the 2nd draft of the novel.