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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.

Brontë cover

Here is the cover for Red Room – I hope you like it. Designed by Rachael Carver, of Green Door Designs, the font on the front is based on Charlotte Brontë’s handwriting, and the text mirrors how Victorians used to make use of paper (a valuable commodity) – by writing one way then turning the paper ninety degrees and continuing to write. As Rachael says, it gives a lovely quilted effect. It’s a great idea and I’m thrilled with how it’s turned out. As you can see on the back the book contains new stories by some great writers: Alison Moore, David Constantine, Carys Davies, David Rose, Rowena Macdonald, Tania Hershman, Sarah Dobbs, Vanessa Gebbie, Elizabeth Baines, Zoë King, Bill Broady and Felicity Skelton – plus a poem by Simon Armitage. It should be a great read and will be available for pre-orders soon. The book is out in November and we’re already starting to get some events in place to promote it. Watch this space for more information.

Writing residency

I’m delighted to have won the 2013 Baltic Writing Residency in Brora, Scotland. This means I get to spend a week writing in a cottage in the Scottish Highlands between August this year and next… and I can’t wait. It looks like the perfect kind of place to knuckle down and get some work done. Thanks very much to Adam and Aleks at the BWR and also the judges. Congratulations also to the runners-up, who were Canadian poet Jeramy Dodds and New York short fiction writer Kanishk Tharoor.

Northern light: An interview with Adnan Mahmutović

Adnan Mahmutović is a Bosnian-Swedish author and lecturer in English literature. He became a refugee of war in 1993 and has since written on the myths of home. I first got to know Adnan when we were in the same online writing group together – we were then both shortlisted for the 2011 Willesden Herald Short Story Competition. His stories have appeared in a range of journals including Stand, The Battered Suitcase and many more. His short story ‘Gusul’ was made into a short film by Artwerk in 2010 (you can watch it here). His novel Thinner than a Hair was the winning entry in the First-Novel competition run by Cinnamon Press. His short story collection How to Fare Well and Stay Fair – which I have just read and mightily enjoyed – was published by Salt last year. Here I interview him about the collection.
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Story in The Warwick Review

I mentioned previously that I had a new story forthcoming in The Warwick Review. I wasn’t sure then which issue it would be in but I’m happy to say it’s in the June issue. The story is called ‘One Small Thing’ and will be published alongside new work by the likes of fellow Edge Hill Prize shortlistee Rowena Macdonald, John Kinsella, Kirsty Gunn and more. If you’re interested in a subscription to The Warwick Review, details are available here (you can also order individual copies should you want to). It’s a great read so it’s well worth subscribing if you can. My story began with a first line dropping into my head – ‘She was carving dolls for the dead.’ This has happened quite a lot to me in the past and, usually, as soon as I get the line I get the story. That’s not to say that the stories then come easily of course – they never do. Anyway, if you read it I hope you like it.
* Elizabeth Baines has given a very nice mention to the anthology of Brontë stories I’m currently editing and which she features in (Red Room: New Short Stories Inspired by the Brontës) so pop over to her blog to have a read.

Brontë stories

I’ve not mentioned this on here before but I’m currently editing an anthology of stories to help raise funds for The Brontë Birthplace Trust. The idea for the book came about after I was added into the Trust’s group on Facebook – they were looking for ways to raise money towards their goal of one day buying the Brontë birthplace in Thornton, Bradford and I suggested a short story collection. There will be more on this in the introduction to the book.
Happily, Unthank Books are going to publish Red Room: New Short Stories Inspired by the Brontës in October/November this year – and it’s going to be a cracking read. It features 12 stories by some of the UK’s best short story writers (all will be revealed in time!) as well as a poem by Simon Armitage. I’ve more or less finished editing now so – fingers crossed – the manuscript will be off to the typesetters soon. I’ll update you more over the next few months.
Watch this space!


Just a quick note to say huge congratulations to Debz Hobbs-Wyatt who has been shortlisted in the prestigious Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Debz has been shortlisted for her short story ‘Chutney’ alongside other talented writers from around the Commonwealth. I read with Debz at Sarah Dobbs’ book launch in December (see story below) and appear alongside her in the pages of Unthology 3 from Unthank Books – so I’ve got everything crossed for her. The prize is a great one to win – last year’s winner Emma Martin, from New Zealand, is an online writing friend of mine so I was thrilled when she won. Since then, Emma has completed a short story collection, titled ‘Two Girls in a Boat’, and this is set to be published by Victoria University Press in May.

A new interview

I’ve just been interviewed by the writer Michael Stewart over on his blog here so feel free to go along and have a read of that. It was lovely to chat to him about astronomy, editing and short stories as endings – an idea which sent me to bed with a headache when I tried to get my head around it, but which I (finally) realised I agreed with. You may know Michael as the 2011 winner of The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize with his debut novel King Crow. He’s also just published a collection of poetry (Couples) with Valley Press and I hear there’s more work forthcoming from him soon, including an afternoon drama on Radio 4 on May 3rd – keep in touch with his blog to stay up-to-date with all things Michael Stewart.