1st Prize Winning Story Published in Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts

I was thrilled last August 2017, when I received an email from the American writer, Lorian Hemingway, telling me that I'd won the American Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition 2017.  My story, Welcome to Legoland, had been picked from over 600 international entries and to hear this was such a wonderful boost.  As well as winning the prize, an additional bonus was that Welcome to Legoland would be published in Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts.  Cutthroat is an internationally recognised literary journal published in the USA: its Editor-in-Chief is Pamela Uschuk.  The Spring 2018 issue is now out - and after winging its way across the Atlantic (thank you, Lorian, for taking the time and trouble) - I have received several copies and here it is!

 

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Welcome to Legoland is a story dear to my heart, because it is set in Liverpool in the 1970s, the place and time where I grew up.  I wanted to capture the raw industrial mood of the city, as it was then, contrasted with the mature, mellow environs of Liverpool University, where my father taught.  I hope I've succeeded.  Narrated by a university student about the stranger teenage boy she meets on the avant-garde Southgate Housing Estate in Runcorn New Town, the story explores grief and architecture and a brief encounter between two lost individuals.  It was created as a side-step from the novel I'm completing, which is also set in Liverpool.  As writers, to take a breather, we're often encouraged to meet our characters in a different place, outside the timeline of the novel, and this is what I did one day. Adrian, the stranger, was the result.

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So, a big thank you both to Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts, and to Lorian Hemingway, who is such a generous and encouraging author, for giving my story a chance to meet the world.  And if you get to read Welcome to Legoland - I hope you enjoy it.

Wimbledon Book Fest 2017

On Sunday evening I joined the long queue at Wimbledon Book Fest 2017 to see author Salman Rushdie, in conversation with the BBC journalist Razia Iqbal.  He was discussing his latest book, The Golden House (published by Jonathan Cape).  It was an entertaining and amusing evening, tied neatly into current global events, yet with crucial insights into a writer's personal world.

 Wimbledon Book Fest 2017 runs from 5-15 October 2017

Wimbledon Book Fest 2017 runs from 5-15 October 2017

In recent years I've visited a number of live author talks (Colm Toibin, Rose Tremain, Kate Atkinson to name but a few ...) and every time I've come away not only with a better understanding of the book in question, but also of the individual thought processes and craft that each writer pursues.  It's a brilliant way to achieve a personal insight into the minds of modern-day, working authors. And often the audience questions provide off-the-cuff and entertaining answers, too.

 Salman Rushdie and Razia Iqbar in conversation at Wimbledon Book Fest 2017

Salman Rushdie and Razia Iqbar in conversation at Wimbledon Book Fest 2017

Attending book talks is also a fabulous opportunity for a book signing.  There's something very special about meeting an author face-to-face, and I treasure all the books I've had signed in recent years.  Next one my reading list?  This one:

 The Golden House is published by Jonathan Cape.

The Golden House is published by Jonathan Cape.

Retreat West 'What Was Left' Anthology Launch at Waterstones

Last night's launch party for the Retreat West Books What Was Left Anthology was held at Waterstones Reading - a wonderful location - and was a celebration of the first collection of stories from the inaugural Retreat West Short Story Prize and Flash Fiction Prize 2016.  

 The Retreat West Books Anthology, edited by Amanda Saint and Jane Elmor

The Retreat West Books Anthology, edited by Amanda Saint and Jane Elmor

Amanda invited me to read my story 'On Crosby Beach', which won 1st prize in the RW Short Story Competition 2016.  It was a delight to do so before the assembled audience - even though a little nerve-wracking!  The story was inspired by my childhood visits to Crosby Beach and also by the 'Another Place' installation there, by Antony Gormley, most definitely worth a visit.

 Reading my short story 'On Crosby Beach'.

Reading my short story 'On Crosby Beach'.

Jude Higgins also read her 1st prize winning RW Flash Fiction flash, which was haunting and memorable ...

 Jude Higgins read her flash fiction 'At The Hospital' ...

Jude Higgins read her flash fiction 'At The Hospital' ...

Attending a launch is a brilliant chance to meet fellow writers and to sign books.  Amongst the assembled company were writers Jude Higgins, Mandy Huggins, Joanna Campbell, Angelita Bradney, Heather Walker, Diane Simmons and Stephen Palmer, all of whom have fiction in Anthology.  For me, it was also fantastic to meet Amanda Saint, who runs Retreat West with incredible efficiency and genuine passion.  Thanks Amanda and Retreat West!

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1st Prize - Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition 2017

I was so delighted to hear that I've been awarded 1st Prize in the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition 2017.  This year there were 650 entries from the USA and worldwide, so it was a great thrill to receive a personal email from Lorian letting me know that my story 'Welcome to Legoland' had won.  She wrote:

'I absolutely loved "Welcome to Legoland" ... Your story hit me in that spot in my chest that aches when a story evokes emotion so authentically.  For the 37 years of this competition I have trusted that instinct and it has yet to let me down. Such a beautifully rendered work.'

 A vintage Leica camera features in the story ... which is set in 1970s Runcorn New Town.

A vintage Leica camera features in the story ... which is set in 1970s Runcorn New Town.

Lorian is the Director and Final Judge of the competition - so thank you Lorian! - and to Dr Rob Merritt, also on the longtime judging panel.  Congratulations to the other winners and honourable mentions, too.  'Welcome to Legoland' will be published in Cutthroat: a Journal of the Arts in Winter 2018.