Thursday, June 30, 2011

ShortStoryVille - Bristol's first Short Story festival!

Now, if you are in Bristol, anywhere near, or prepared to travel for the love of the short story on July 16th - then do it! ShortStoryVille is the brainchild of Joe Melia, the organiser of the Bristol Short Story Prize, and will culminate in the awards ceremony for this year's prize, all held at Bristol's Arnolfini arts centre. The entire afternoon leading up to that event is filled with short story goodness, including some of my favourite writers: Janice Galloway, Alison McLeod, Sarah Salway, Sarah Hilary, Stuart Evers...! I am very honoured to be part of it, and can't wait to be in the audience for the events I am not participating in. Just check this out:
12.00 – 1.00 Women and Short Stories - panel discussion chaired by writer, broadcaster and critic Bidisha. Often ignored in ‘greatest’ and ‘best of’ lists in other areas of literature, it is widely acknowledged and chronicled that women have led the way in the development of the short story. Is there something specific to the form, missing in other genres, that enables women writers to be taken as seriously as their male counterparts? Are short stories the most emancipated form of literature? Bidisha explores the bond between women and short fiction with 3 of the UK's most celebrated short story writers: Janice Galloway, Alison MacLeod and Sarah Salway. Tickets £3

1.30 – 2.30 Reading Short Stories - panel discussion chaired by acclaimed short story writer Tania Hershman. Is there an art to reading a short story? Is it very different from other forms of fiction? Does it depend on where a story is read: a collection, single story in a magazine, on an ereader? Tania is joined by three passionate short story readers- book reviewer and blogger David Hebblethwaite, Clare Hey, former editor at HarperCollins and founder of trailblazing, digital-only short story publisher Shortfire Press and Scott Pack, publisher at The Friday Project, influential blogger, commentator, reader, and creator of the popular meandmyshortstories blog. Tickets £3

3.30 – 4.30 Helen Oyeyemi and Stuart Evers - Editor of Venue magazine, Joe Spurgeon, interviews two of the UK’s most exciting writers. Helen Oyeyemi’s Mr Fox (Picador) and Stuart Evers’ Ten Stories about Smoking (Picador) are two of this year’s most anticipated books of short stories, both taking a different approach to the linked stories tradition. Helen and Stuart will be signing copies of their latest books in the Arnolfini bookshop after the interview. Tickets £3. Sponsored by Venue magazine.
5.00 – 6.00 Choice Cuts - The Bristol area pulsates with an abundance of brilliant short story writers. Sample some of the finest exponents’ stories, including Patricia Ferguson, Tania Hershman, Sarah Hilary, Amy Mason, Emma Newman and Gareth Powell. Compered by poet, publisher and performer Bertel Martin. This is a free, ticketed event and likely to be very popular so please book early.
Light Studio – Following on from their brilliant exhibition last year, Henbury School art students present original mixed media prints inspired by Nastasya Parker’s short story ‘The Meek Inherit’ published in last year’s Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology.  Free, no ticket required.

Dark Studio – Showing throughout the day, Fairfield School’s Year 11 animation students adaptation of Craig Hawes’ short story ‘Pictures in the Dust’ published in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 2.  Free, no ticket required.

Reading Room – Display of magazines and journals that publish short stories - one aspect of the vibrant and di­verse world of short story publishing. Lots of real gems on show.
The 2011 Bristol Short Story Prize Awards Ceremony will be the closing event of the festival.

Tickets available from Arnolfini box office : phone 0117 9172300 or visit 

We are extremely grateful for the funding and sponsorship help of Arts Council England, Bristol City Council, Venue magazine, Arnolfini and The Bristol Hotel in making this exciting event happen.

I really hope to see you there! I am so excited about this happening in my home city - short stories and more short stories...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Writing Science Into Fiction


I'm still contemplating my month's retreat, not quite ready to write about everything yet, still settling down, but here's some interesting info in the meantime, an event after my own heart:
Imagination and interpretation: Writing science into fiction

Starts: 6pm on 20 July 2011
Finishes: 7.30pm on 20 July 2011
Venue: The Royal Society, London

Speakers: Pat Barker CBE, Philip Sington
Chair: Prof. Sally Shuttleworth

Join Pat Barker CBE and Philip Sington in a discussion about representing scientists and science in contemporary fiction. Both authors have imaginatively used the archives of early 20th century scientists as the basis for major works of fiction. They will reveal what attracted them to these historical sources in particular, and discuss the pleasures and pitfalls of interpreting modern science in fictional worlds.

The event is free and all are welcome to attend. No ticket or advance booking is required - doors will open at 5.30pm and seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Quick, I have WiFi!

I've been working very very hard and enjoying myself immensely here at Internet-free Hawthornden Castle:

I won't jinx anything by talking about it too much yet, since I have another 10 days to go. I have escaped for the day into the Big City for a little Internet surfing (and, yes, an afternoon film, very decadent). Just wanted to plug a few lovely things I have been involved in over the last few weeks:

The wonderful Jen Campbell interviewed me about... short stories (there's a surprise) over at her blog. She asked some tough questions. A little snippet:
I get a kick from a great short story that is unlike any other reading experience, and I read everything, novels, poetry, non-fiction. But the short story discombobulates me, shakes me, moves me, in only a few pages or less, and it is these short stories I find I carry around with me, like whispering voices, for months, even years. I don't forget a short story I have loved. 
And a few weeks ago I was interviewed over at the excellent Shortfire press about, umm, yes, short stories:
I prefer a 'messy' story that may not be perfect but takes risks to a carefully written and 'safe' story that never strays into dangerous territory – and 'danger' can mean something incredibly small, but something risky nonetheless. I'd rather be slightly confused for lack of information than given far too much information and know exactly what's going on, what's happened and what's going to happen.
I was so honoured to be included in this amazing project, Photo Stories "an experiment in writing, photography, and design" - all the writers involved picked a photo, wrote a 500-word story inspired by that photo, and then a designer combined the photo and the story into a third, brand-new entity, a "typographic print" - and all the typographic prints are being exhibited at the Saatchi gallery in London RIGHT NOW (and no, I haven't seen it, sadly I missed the launch). If you are in London, head down there. But even if you can't, the typographs are for sale, check out the website. You can see the typograph of my story here.

Another few bits of story news - I have several flash stories in a new ebook anthology coming very soon, Peculiar Love Stories, being published by Rosa Mira Books in New Zealand. I have to say, I realised I tend to write a lot of very peculiar love stories! Check out the publisher's blog here.

And the antipodean theme continues - a brand new and very very odd flash story, Disease relics, has just been published in volume 1 of Australian online mag Inky Squib, (scroll to page 4).

OK, time to head back to the castle. I will write more about the experience when I get home at the end of the month. I will leave you with this thought: porridge and creativity, is there a link?