Author Archives: A. J. Ashworth


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


The first draft of the novel is done. It’s been a hard slog – at times painful, at times enjoyable – but it’s done. There’s still a long way to go – there’s lots of editing and redrafting to do – so I’m not celebrating just yet. Well, not properly. I have lots of work ahead including the three REs – research, restructuring and rewriting. As for research, I did some before but now I know what the story is I know what I need to get more information on; restructuring – lots of moving things about, putting characters into the past who are in the present, and so on; rewriting – adding words, taking words away (the delightful ‘kill your darlings’ time), improving or smoothing over what is already there (sanding away any words that snag). As has been said many times before by other writers – writing is editing. But when you’re dealing with a novel-sized beast rather than a short story-sized one, it’s a bit more daunting, mainly because there can be ramifications to your edits (as with the butterfly effect – the theorised flapping of the butterfly’s wings leading to the possible formation of hurricanes). But before all of that a bit of distance, a bit of down time and then… back in for the second round.


Seeing as I haven’t updated this blog in a while, here’s a little round-up of what’s been going on over the past couple of months. On 27th November I took part in a reading for Red Room at Blackburn Library along with Elizabeth Baines, Sarah Dobbs and Carys Davies. The event was a huge success with a warm and engaged audience of Bronte lovers and it was particularly nice to chat to people afterwards – including a couple of people who decided to challenge themselves and re-read Jane Eyre before coming along.

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Great night at the Portico

I had a lovely evening last night at the Portico Library, Manchester, to help celebrate the publication of Red Room. Elizabeth Baines, Bill Broady, Vanessa Gebbie, Rowena Macdonald and Felicity Skelton were all there, to either read extracts or full stories, and a good crowd of people turned up to listen to them. I gave a quick introduction to the book and then introduced everyone and it was a real treat to hear the writers reading out their work… something which always fascinates me because stories often sound quite different when read aloud. Continue reading

Word Factory

I’m very excited that Red Room is going to get its first public airing tonight at the Word Factory salon in London. Bill Broady is going to be reading from his story ‘Heathcliff versus Sherlock Holmes’ and I’m sure it will go down a treat. It’s a very funny story – one that I actually laughed out loud at the first time I read it – so I hope everyone enjoys it. If you’re going along to the event, then copies of Red Room will be for sale and, as well as Bill, there will be some other contributors in the audience so get them to sign your copy. There are more Red Room events planned next month and a signing in January, but I’ll give an update on those soon.

Hawthornden Fellowship

A Hawthornden Fellowship is something I’ve dreamt about for a while now – the chance to spend a solid month writing in Hawthornden Castle, near Edinburgh, in the company of other writers… well, who wouldn’t fancy that? I’m therefore hugely thrilled to have won a fellowship for next year – lucky me. If you want to know more about Hawthornden, Vanessa Gebbie wrote a wonderful blog post about her time there (there’s another post from Camille DeAngelis here – look at the beautiful wintry photo of the trees in the ravine). So you can see why I’m excited – a month writing, no/few distractions, meals provided (including lunch brought to your room)… can’t wait. It will be a great opportunity for me to work hard on the novel and to get it looking something like a novel… that’s what I hope anyway. I’m also really excited to find out who I’ll be there with too. I’ll write about my fellowship after I’ve been sometime early next year – many thanks to the admissions committee for choosing my application.

Nice news and some funding

I’ve had some very nice news with regard to Red Room but – and I hate doing this – I don’t think I can say anything about it just yet. As soon as I can I’ll let everyone know as I can’t wait to mention it. As for my own writing – I’m currently working on my novel and am delighted to have been awarded some Arts Council funding for mentoring. This means that I’ll be able to get some guidance and feedback from a novelist during the writing of the novel, and as I’m in new territory – novels being completely different beasts to short stories – I’m really happy to be helped in this way. Mentoring has begun and the novel is progressing at a slow pace, but it is progressing. I’m just looking forward to getting the first draft under my belt and then the real work will begin… the editing.

A little update

Things are progressing nicely with Red Room: New Short Stories Inspired by the Brontës – there seems to be a bit of interest in it so fingers crossed it will do well. A percentage of the profits will go to support the work of The Brontë Birthplace Trust in Thornton, Bradford, so the more copies we sell the more it helps them. Elizabeth Baines, whose story ‘That Turbulent Stillness’ features in the collection, has written a little bit about the book over on her blog. If you want to find out about the background to Elizabeth’s story – and see what she thinks about some of the other stories in the collection – click here. We are currently also putting a few events in place so watch this space for more details on those… but make some room in your diary for October and November! (Don’t forget, if you’d like to preorder a copy, you can do that here.)

Red Room available to pre-order

Red Room: New Short Stories Inspired by the Brontës is now available to pre-order from Amazon – click here to do that. The book is out in November but if you order now you’ll be certain of getting your copy as soon as they’re printed. The price is £9.99 but remember that a percentage of the profits will go to a good cause – The Brontë Birthplace Trust – so it’s well worth getting hold of a copy if you can. Not only will you be helping the Trust with their plans to promote Thornton in Bradford as a Brontë destination, but you’ll also get a cracking book to read too, with stories from Alison Moore, David Constantine, Carys Davies, David Rose, Rowena Macdonald, Tania Hershman, Elizabeth Baines, Sarah Dobbs, Zoë King, Vanessa Gebbie, Bill Broady and Felicity Skelton (plus a poem by Simon Armitage). So, please support a good cause and support short fiction at the same time.