Last month I was thrilled to hear that I’d won the Bare Fiction short story prize. For those who don’t know, Bare Fiction is a wonderful literary magazine that’s been going a few years. The pieces in it are very, very well-written and I’ve discovered many fantastic new authors by reading this. It’s also quite high-profile, attracting some very well-known names both as contributors and judges for the competition. This year the short story entries were judged by Courttia Newland, which gives you a sense of how thrilled I was to hear I’d won!
The prize-giving was held in Birmingham, so I promptly hopped on a train for what was to be my first real visit to the city. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I didn’t get loads of time to look around, but am hoping to head back for a mini-break soon.
Waterstones hosted the evening, which was super well-attended. We had people coming from great distances, most notably Ireland! (Ireland seems to produce some fantastic poets, incidentally). Here’s a few sample pictures from the night:
Me and Xanthi Barker, who read from her amazing 2nd prize story.
Robert Harper, who is the brains and the energy behind Bare Fiction. Fantastic to meet at last!
We’re listening to one of the poets here… look at all those spellbound faces.
All the way back in March, I entered the City Writes short courses competition. This is a regular competition open to everyone who’s studied on one of the City Writes short courses. City offers loads of these creative writing courses throughout the year, and I’d always fancied going on one. They’re run in the evenings, so fit nicely in around a day job. In 2013 I got my act together and enrolled on their wonderful short story course. It’s probably what really sparked my interest in short stories!
Anyway, I was very pleased to hear that I’d been selected as one of the competition winners! Along with three other winners and the amazing Emma Claire Sweeney (who tutors City Writes Novel Studio course), I was invited to give a reading at City’s competition event.
It was a brilliant evening, although sadly I forgot to take many photos – here’s one from Jonathan Ruppin (a founder of the English PEN Translated Literature Book Club, and someone who also takes good photographs!)
I was reading an extract from “I See You In Triplicate”, which was published in Structo. The other three competition winners were amazing – fabulous writers, fabulous readers – and Emma Claire Sweeney was wonderful. I bought a copy of her book, “Owl Song At Dawn”, and devoured it in a single sitting! I can thoroughly recommend it, and if you are lucky enough to get a chance to hear her read, do take it!
The next iteration of the competition is now open for entries, closing 16th June. The judge, Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone, was the course director for the Novel Studio and is also (unsurprisingly!) a very good writer herself. Check out her reviewing blog to see what she looks for in a good story, and if you’re an alumni of the City short courses, do think about submitting before June.