Flowers hold many memories for me and have always been at the centre of my life because generations of my family were florists and flower-growers. During lockdown last winter, I planted spring and summer bulbs. Amongst them were a dozen tiger lilies (Lilium tigrinum splendens), a beloved flower of my childhood. Last month, they flowered beautifully.
In my childhood garden, the tiger lilies grew in a shady spot at the top of the azalea bed which ran like a river of flame down the slope. Behind them was a dark-leaved rhododendron, perhaps R. fragrantissima. Here I crawled through a hole in the escallonia hedge to my den at the base of a wild cherry tree, surrounded by agapanthus and the bronze spears of flax my father planted to stop the crumbling bank from collapsing into the road. It is a joy to have these flowers in my life again.
In another return from the past, The Yellow Room magazine is accepting submissions for the first time since 2013. The Yellow Room publishes quality fiction by female writers. My short story, ‘Albatross’, appeared in Issue 6 exactly ten years ago. More details are available here.
Three years after my novella, Travelling in the Dark, was published by Fairlight Books as one of their Fairlight Moderns series, I’m delighted to be chairing an online event to launch four new Moderns titles.
The launch will take place on Thursday 5th August at 7pm. Tickets are free, but do sign up soon before they run out! Book here.
Fairlight Moderns are a collection of new fictions from around the world. The 2021 novellas are Blue Postcards by Douglas Bruton, Taking Flight by JT Torres, Only About Love by Debbi Voisey and Missing Words by Loree Westron. You can read about the whole series here.
One particularly lovely thing about having books published is that they take on a life of their own. Like us, they have their own special dates and anniversaries associated with them.
The Lost of Syros, my first short story collection, was published in July 2015 by Cultured Llama Publishing. At the time, I was so overwhelmed that I hid the box of books under my bed for some weeks while I came to terms with seeing my stories collected between its covers.
Three years later, on 12 July 2018, my novella Travelling in the Dark was published by Fairlight Books and launched at the beautiful Hatchard’s in Piccadilly. This short book had taken me so many years to write that it seemed almost miraculous to see it in print.
Both The Lost of Syros and Travelling in the Dark are unusual books, and I feel very lucky to have found homes for them with these interesting publishers.
I hope to have news to share soon about my forthcoming short story collection, Three Roads. Once again, it’s been a long time in the making. It has grown from the five stories in my pamphlet, Over the Dam, to a collection of fourteen short stories written over the last eight years. Many of the stories have been published individually, but there is nothing like seeing the stories together, unique but in harmony like plants in a garden.
Fairlight Books are featuring my story, Flowers, as their short story of the week. You can read it here.
My novella, Travelling in the Dark, is now available in North America, along with some other fine Fairlight titles. In the US, it can be ordered via the online book store Bookshop .
Exploring the World of Short Stories, the course I’m tutoring for Literature Works Quay Words project, starts on Saturday 8 May. If you have signed up for the course, I look forward to seeing you there!
I’m very pleased to say that the course I’m teaching for the Literature Works Quay Words programme, Exploring the World of Short Stories, is almost fully booked. Many thanks to everyone who has signed up so far and to the kind people who helped to spread the word. The course runs from 8 May -5 June, and I’m looking forward to sharing my knowledge and experience of this intriguing form.
If you’d like to snap up a place, please book here.
I have a lifelong love of the short story form. My first short story was published in 2010, and in 2011 I was lucky enough to win two short story awards within weeks of each other, the Society of Authors’ Tom-Gallon Trust Award and the SWWJ Theodora Roscoe/ Vera Brittain Award. Since then, my stories have been collected in a pamphlet, Over the Dam, and a full collection, The Lost of Syros, which was longlisted for the Edge Hill Prize 2016.
You can read some reviews of the collections here.
Over the Dam, my first publication, was published by Red Squirrel Press as a result of the title story winning their Sara Park Memorial Short Story Competition in 2013. From this core of five stories, I’ve developed a full collection of fifteen stories called Three Roads. The book was due to be published by Red Squirrel this year, but will now appear next year because of delays caused by the pandemic.
Short stories have brought me so many good things over the years. I’ve seen my words in print and online and have travelled to many places and been involved in all kinds of events because of them.
From 8 May to 5 June 2021, I’ll be teaching an online course,Exploring the World of Short Stories, for Literature Works as part of their wonderful Quay Words programme. The course will run over five Saturday mornings from 11am to 1pm.
Intriguing, engaging and a little bit mysterious, short stories are windows into other lives and worlds – but what goes into making a great short story? During these informative and inspiring sessions, we’ll look at the essential elements all short stories share and explore creative writing techniques.
This is Porthtowan, on the north coast of Cornwall, a few days ago. Such beautiful light on the water. Moments like this, of warm, winter sunlight and stillness at the edge of the sea, feel very precious – perhaps more than ever this year.
I hope to have some news to share about 2021 soon; in the meantime, I’d like to mention Bookshop , an online bookshop which financially supports local, independent bookshops.
When placing an order, you can nominate a specific local bookshop who will receive the full profit from your order. Otherwise, your order will contribute to an earnings pool that will be evenly distributed among independent bookshops. You can read all about the organisation here.
It is ten years this month since my short story, Katherine and the Lighthouse, was published in the lovely journal The Parabola Project. Since then, thirteen more of my stories have appeared in a wide variety of print publications. Others have appeared in literary journals online.
It’s been a great joy to see my stories in print over the last decade, and I wanted to celebrate by assembling copies of the journals and anthologies my work has appeared in. As you can see, there is a fascinating variety! From the tiny to the more substantial, they are all unique and lovely.
Thank you to all these publications and the great people behind them: The Parabola Project, The Yellow Room, The Frogmore Papers, Dream Catcher, The Interpreter’s House, Takahē, Solstice Shorts: Sixteen Stories about Time, The Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology, Elbow Room, Palm Sized Press, and Bonsai: The Big Book of Small Stories.