Author Archives: A. J. Ashworth

Life Support project: Sarah Dobbs

My writer friend Sarah Dobbs has started a project called Life Support to encourage kindness – in word and deed – over on her blog. And I was so moved by her video, which remembers her brother Steven, that I wanted to contribute. I have therefore written a few words in memory of my grandma who died a few years ago but is still much missed – and I’ve donated to Age UK to help support them in their work with the elderly. Please consider writing a few words about someone you care about and then give a little to charity if you can. Here are my words:

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Writers on rejection: Alison Moore

alison-moore-1‘We can feel rejection as physical pain, as a kind of heartache, but you just have to learn what you can from it and press on.’


In my second interview, I talk to Alison Moore about her experiences of and thoughts about rejection. Alison is the author of three
novels (The Lighthouse (one of my favourite novels of recent times), He Wants and Death and the Seaside) and a short story collection (The Pre-War House and Other Stories). The Lighthouse was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012 and the National Book Awards (New Writer of the Year) and won The McKitterick Prize. Her short stories have also featured in the Best British Short Stories and Best British Horror anthologies as well as broadcast on Radio 4 Extra. She also very kindly donated a story, for free, to Red Room: New Short Stories Inspired by the Brontës (edited by me) to help support The Brontë Birthplace Trust.


AA: What was your first taste of rejection – and how did it feel?

AM: My first rejections as a writer would have been when I was a kid entering writing competitions. I think the rejection was often just silence. Whether it’s that silence or a kindly worded letter, it does hurt of course – it gets you right in the tender spot. I learnt very early on to love shortlists – for a story not to just disappear into a void meant a lot; it wasn’t necessary to win.

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Writers on rejection: A. L. Kennedy


A. L. Kennedy (photo by Campbell Mitchell).

‘Rejection is a fact of life – we can console ourselves that we’re not as completely rejected as actors… With them, they really are being rejected as people’

Today, in my first interview for the series, I talk to Scottish writer A. L. Kennedy about her thoughts on rejection as well as her own experiences of it. A. L. Kennedy is a novelist, short story writer and dramatist whose work has won or been listed in numerous prizes, most recent of which was a longlisting for the 2016 Man Booker Prize for her novel Serious Sweet. She has also previously won the Costa Book of the Year for her novel Day and was selected twice as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She writes a regular column for The Guardian.

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Introducing Writers on Rejection: A new series


A rejection for one of the stories that was eventually published in my collection.

Rejection. The dreaded ‘R’ word. For writers, it is the one thing we fear as well as the one thing we try our hardest to avoid. But all writers – no matter whether we’re just starting out or we’re further down the line – experience it. From standard rejection slips and emails from journal editors to funding application failures and responses from agents and publishers, it can come in a variety of forms. Continue reading

The End – Norwich launch

I had a lovely time in Norwich on Thursday night when I was invited to read as part of the launch of The End: Fifteen Endings to Fifteen Paintings (Unthank Books). As mentioned in previous posts, the book features stories inspired by the paintings of artist Nicolas Ruston – all of which mimic the stills from old, black and white movie end title sequences. The paintings were exhibited at the event, which was held at the University of East Anglia, and some of the writers who feature in the collection also gave readings from their stories.


Endists: Me, Aiden O’Reilly, Ashley Stokes, Gordon Collins, Tim Sykes and Dan Powell.

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The End: First review

The End: Fifteen Endings to Fifteen Paintings, which is due to be published by Unthank Books in autumn this year, has received its first review in Lakeview: International Journal of Literature and Arts. To have a read click here. The book features new stories inspired by the artworks of Nicolas Ruston, including my own story ‘Harbour Lights’, and is due to be launched alongside an exhibition of the paintings around September (details to follow). To find out more about the project and the writers involved go to the dedicated The End website.

The End is nigh

the-end-bookI am delighted to say I have written a new short story, which is set to be published in an anthology called The End: Fifteen Endings to Fifteen Paintings early next year. The book features new stories inspired by the artwork of Nicolas Ruston and you can find out more about the project by clicking here. Continue reading

I’m not very good

… at blogging. Possibly because nothing much is happening at the moment apart from editing the novel and doing the day job. I’m working on draft eight of The Dark Sky, Falling and hoping to finish it over the next couple of months – depending on how much time I can spend on it. I never really plan when I write (well, not much) but now, fairly late in the process, I’m having to write an outline to make sure everything is working and linking up in the way it should do. Continue reading


I have signed up to The WoMentoring Project – a free mentoring project, which is the brainchild of author Kerry Hudson, and that aims to support emerging female writers. The scheme has been created to help those who would usually find the costs of mentoring prohibitive. As the website says: ‘The mission of The WoMentoring Project is simple: to introduce successful literary women to other women writers at the beginning of their careers who would benefit from some insight, knowledge and support’. Continue reading

Hawthornden happiness

Hawthornden Castle viewed from one of the castle walks

I am back from my month-long writing fellowship at Hawthornden Castle, Edinburgh. Well, I’ve been back a fortnight but I’ve been busy with work (after a month away from the day job I suppose I have to do *some*). I had a great time – a really great time. I wrote like a demon, ate lots of lovely food and met five nice new writer friends… all in all, a wonderful, memorable experience. Continue reading