Monday, July 07, 2014

Short Fiction Prize, Edge Hill Prize, and another Unthology 5 review

My short-story-filled summer continues apace. I am staggered to hear that my story, 'Looking for the Castle' is the runner up in this year's International Short Fiction Journal Prize. I'm particularly thrilled that this story has done so well, as it was one of the most difficult and complex I've written, a story about the complexities and uncertainties of memory, and the resultant fragmentation of self - themes I've been concerned with recently in my longer work, but which proved more tricky in the short form. It took a long time to get right; I kept having to mull it and realise it wasn't quite working and go back and make tweaks that might not have seemed much but were, in the end, all-important. My huge congratulations to the winner, Graham Mort, and to the shortlistees Catherine McNamara and Geoffrey Miller, and the longlistees who included my writing colleagues Tania Hershman and Sara Mae Tuson, and my great thanks to the judge, Gerard Donovan. Thanks are also due to my good friend, writer and editor Charles Lambert, who gave me faith in the story when I was beginning to doubt it.

Graham Mort was the winner of the Edge Hill Prize two or three years back, and this year's awards night was held in London's Free word Centre on Thursday, John Burnside winning for his collection Something Like Happy and Rachel Tresize winning the Readers' Choice prize for her collection Cosmic Latte. It's a night I always look forward to, and it didn't disappoint, though one sorry note was the absence due to illness of Ailsa Cox who founded and administrates the prize. I always look forward to a catch-up with my co-editor on the former short-story mag, metropolitan, so that was disappointing. My photo isn't very good, I'm afraid, but on the right at the back are the Salt contingent, representing David Rose whose collection Posthumous Stories was shortlisted, publisher Jen Hamilton Emery far right and editor Nick Royle second from right. On the far left are, second from left, Jackie McCarrick, shortlisted for her collection The Scattering, and fourth from left her editor at Seren Books, Penny Thomas (whom I was thrilled to meet, as she is editing the forthcoming Honno ghost anthology The Wish Dog which includes my story 'A Matter of Light'). In the centre at the back (second from right of the small gap) is Rachel Tresize. Here's John accepting his prize:

As for Unthology 5, it keeps buzzing. There's yet another very positive reviewthis time by Cath Barton on Sabotage Reviews. 'Excellent writing, and not a little in the stories to surprise and sometimes unsettle the reader.' She praises the diversity, but notes too that several of the stories are about disturbing secrets, including my own, 'Clarrie and You', in which she says 'the secrets carry great sadness.' 

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