We like to hear about previous prize winners’ successes. Hilary Taylor won third prize in BSSA 2018 with her story ‘Sea Defences’ and her story is published in our BSSA 2018 anthology. In this interview she tells us how she extended this prize winning short fiction into a novel with the same title, which will be published by Lightning Press on January 15th 2023. Congratulations Hilary! We also learn how she discovered her short story ‘Sea Defences’ online, analysed for an exam syllabus. A multi-genre writer, Hilary was recently a winner in the Flash 500 flash fiction contest and there’s a link to the story for you to read. She’s also given great advice for editing final short story drafts if you are thinking of entering this year’s Award.
Hilary Taylor grew up in Suffolk and Hampshire, and is a graduate of Edinburgh University. She lives in Suffolk, where she taught for almost twenty years, and now writes, reads, has serial arty-crafty obsessions (paper-making, marbling, wool-felting), and goes for long walks before breakfast. She has five grown-up children, and, at the last count, eight grandchildren. Her short fiction has won or been listed in competitions, including the Bridport Prize, Bare Fiction, the Bath Short Story Award and Flash500, and has been published in magazines and anthologies. Sea Defences is her first novel (although of course there are previous ones ‘in a drawer’, where they should probably stay.) You can find her on twitter @hilarytaylor00 Continue reading →
5 weeks to go until this year’s Bath Short Story Award closes on Monday, April 11th.
Perhaps you’ve already written your story ─ or just a first draft? Or perhaps the current world events are so overwhelming you feel as if you’re in quicksand, weighted down and unable to think clearly, let alone creatively.
If a drain is blocked or your car won’t start, you can attempt to fix the problem by working through a series of stages, employing set mechanical solutions. Try the same with your writing, using one or more of the 5 senses as a starting point: Continue reading →
I have struggled to write a post this morning and it’s probably true of many of us who are overwhelmed by events and question the point, at times, of writing our stories. I read this on Saturday, written by the inimitable George Saunders in his Story Club email, and I want to share part of it with you. If you’ve already seen it, I apologise, but I think it bears reading again (and again). Continue reading →
In case you hadn’t noticed it’s Tuesday 22/2/22 today. A palindrome. Some cultures believe that palindrome dates are a sign of good luck. Some couples marry on palindrome days for luck. So why not take advantage of such vibes, and write a story (or two).
Here’s a few suggestions to get you going: Continue reading →
Tree ‘heart’ ring, Cambodia
February 14th is marked by effusions of gauzy froth in shop windows, rose-tinted Prosecco, truffles with just a blush of strawberry, raspberry, in fact, anything pinkish that can be blobbed onto chocolate, with the possible exception of salmon. And then there are the cards: slushy, cutesy, jokey and the predictable ‘pornucopia’ range. We buy for lovers, mates and children so that a big red envelope plops onto the doormats of those we care about or want to tease. For years I sent all my friends’ children jolly Valentine cards (a habit picked up in the US where cards for this most Hallmark of holidays came in in boxed sets of 24 with one for teacher too). Continue reading →
You’re a writer, so you read. A lot. Right? We all know how important it is, it’s one of the mantras. You want to write short stories, you need to read them. Find out how they work, what you like, what sparks you? Read outside your comfort zone, read what you love, read what others recommend. Read everything! But how
are you reading? Are you paying attention? Are you noticing what the writer is doing? When I teach short story courses, alongside the writing exercises, we read a story a week, looking at how it works. We take the story apart, if you like, examine the craft (it used to be called practical criticism when I was at school) and then we try it out in our own writing. Continue reading →
Kristen Loesch won the third prize in our 2021 Award with her brilliant short story, ‘Important Letters’, which you can read in our 2021 Anthology, available from Ad Hoc Fiction and Amazon. This month (February 2022), her debut novel The Porcelain Doll, shortlisted in the Caledonian Novel Award and The Bath Novel Award is published in the UK and sounds fascinating: Continue reading →
Sleekit (also spelt ‘sleeket’) is my word for January 25th, Burns Night. When we asked some of our favourite Scottish writers for tips for Burns Night stories, Ian Rankin came straight back to us with this:
And what a word it is, redolent with meaning; not just ‘having a glossy skin’ but, in its true Scottish sense, ‘artfully flattering, ingratiating, crafty or deceitful.’ Perhaps that might inspire a politically-themed story? After all, Burns himself was not just an 18th Century romantic poet but a covert radical, an advocate of the freedom of the press and a supporter of the French Revolution.
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Congratulations again on your wonderful story, ‘In Bed With My Sister’, which was awarded a very well deserved first place in our 2021 competition. Could you tell us a little about the story’s journey; how it started out, whether it changed much along the way?
K L Jefford
Thank-you. This story is very important to me and I’m overwhelmed that it won first prize in this wonderful competition, and proud to be in such talented company in the anthology.
In Bed With My Sister is a fictional narrative that was seeded in scrawled notes I made at a time when someone close to me was in crisis. I’ve always been curious about the roles we take up in families and other relationships – who looks after who – and the tensions between personal and professional, especially what happens when those in the so-called ‘caring professions’ become patients.
Returning to these notes months later, I began to imagine and sketch out ‘scenes’ which formed the basis of the narrative. I always take drafts of stories to my writing workshops – I’m part of two with writers I met on the MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck – and use their feedback to inform the editing process. The story struck a chord in the workshops immediately, described as both ‘painful’ and ‘compelling’. Editing involved much re-shaping and tweaking, improving specificity of detail, pruning back prose to facilitate emotional impact, and paying attention to the balance of humour and darkness. Time management and chronology have always been big challenges for me and much of my editing involves chopping up and moving scenes around.
I worked on the story – alongside other stories-in-progress – for around a year before considering it ready to submit to competitions.
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Our Award ends on April 11th. In 13 weeks time. Want to write a short story with an unusual angle that stands out from the crowd? Join one of these very affordable short courses at The Crow Collective organised by dynamic writer and story teller, Sage Tyrtle. Continue reading →