There’s just three days until we close at midnight on Monday, April 20th. Over the past seven years we’ve posted many interviews / Q & A s with inspirational writers on our website and thought you might enjoy a few extracts. Three today, two tomorrow and the last one on Monday.
Tessa Hadley (from an interview by Jude, 2013)
Tessa Hadley, former Professor in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, is one of our most highly-regarded writers of novels and short stories, many of which have won or been long/shortlisted for major national and international prizes. These include the Orange Prize, the BBC National Short Story Award, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and Windham-Campbell prize for fiction.
Do you have any advice for writers on entering short story competitions?
Keep doing it – once you feel your stories are saying something and have some power and traction. It’s a really useful way to push yourself on, give yourself a deadline. And wonderfully rewarding if you win something too.
Do you think a good title is important for a short story, or doesn’t it matter?
Yes, a title clinches something, it crisps the story up and seals it like a top on a bottle.
Sarah Hilary (from an interview by Jane, 2016)
Sarah Hilary’s debut novel ‘Someone Else’s Skin’ won the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award in 2012 (past winners/shortlistees have included Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Lee Child, Mick Herron and Belinda Bauer) which was the first in the compelling and well-reviewed six book D.I. Marnie Rome series. She’s also won prizes for her short stories and flash fiction.
What do you think are the essential ingredients of a good short story?
Crystal clear setting and characters. Forward momentum. An ending that resonates. No wasted words.
Beginnings and endings – your thoughts on these? How do you decide when a short story should end?
I like an ending that echoes back to the beginning. My favourite short stories have this circularity. When the reader knows what will happen next—that’s where the story should end. The reader finishes it, in his or her imagination.
Anthony Doerr (from an interview by Jude, 2014)
Anthony Doerr is one of our most acclaimed writers. ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ became an instant New York Times bestseller and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in April, 2015. He has also won two of the world’s most prestigious short story prizes: in the US, The Story Prize for ‘Memory Wall’ and, in the UK, the 2011 Sunday Times Short Story Award for ‘The Deep.’
What editing advice would you give to writers who are considering entering our competition?
Reward the generosity of your reader! Try to examine every single word in your story and ask yourself: Is it a lazy choice? Does this adjective/article/noun/verb absolutely need to be there? If someone is nice enough to spend a half-hour reading something you’ve written, try to make your prose absolutely worthy of his or her time. Make the dream that unfolds inside your sentences so persuasive, seamless and compelling, that your reader won’t put it down.