Category Archives: forthcoming

The Willesden Prize, Stories and Tunnels

Stephen Moran, head honcho of the Willesden Herald, has invited me to judge this year’s Willesden Prize, aka ‘The Willesden Herald New Short Stories Competition 2017’, and I’m a bit worried I won’t be up to the job, because the only thing I’m good for right now is listening to music (mostly, this past week or so, The Psychedelic Furs). This month I’ve also started, but not finished reading, several lengthy novels. I’m hoping it won’t be like that when it comes to reading the shortlist. The not finishing, I mean. But then, it’s rare for me not to finish a short story, or not hear the end of a song. No doubt commitment comes into it. The end of a novel or TV series can feel so far off you’ll never get there, and sometimes it seems the writers have had trouble getting there, too.

But songs and stories tunnel into their content instead of finding ways around or over it. I love tunnels: old railway tunnels, foot tunnels, even disused mines, especially when they lead somewhere unexpected. Another country, an underground concert, a beach with no visible path leading to it…


(…not a request for stories featuring tunnels as much as for surprises.) If you’re thinking of giving this a go, here’s a bit more info.

The Willesden Herald New Short Stories Competition

The Willesden Prize is open to anyone, anywhere, writing short stories in English. Length and theme are unimportant – just send the best unpublished piece you have, up to a max of 7500 words. Entries are read blind.

Closing date: August 31

Entries must be sent via the online entry page, with an entry fee of £7.50.

Winners anthology

The winners announcement will be made probably in October or November.  Stories by the ten shortlisted writers will be included in the a paperback book to be published, by December 2017, “Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 10”. (If you’re curious,  find the back issues here.) Each contributing writer will receive two comp copies. Entry fees help pay for the anthology and prizes.

£1200 in prizes

This prize is not all about the money, far from it. Everyone who works on it, sifting, doing admin, judging and editing the anthology, does so on a voluntary basis — but… A prize fund of £1,200 will be split between the 10 shortlisted writers. The winner receives a Willesden Herald mug plus £300, the runner-up £200, and 8 short-listed writers each receive £75.

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Irish Writers in London Summer School

(11 June to 17 July 2015, London Metropolitan University)

I’m honoured to be one of the guest writers featured at the 2015 Irish Writers in London Summer School. The school runs two evenings a week for five weeks in June and July, with set texts discussed in class on the Tuesday, and the author reading from / talking about their text on the Thursday. Was kind of hoping sessions would be in the Falling-Down building (as I’ve heard it called on the 43 bus) a.k.a. the Graduate Centre, Holloway Road. But in fact it is in The Tower Building, just behind the Libeskind in the pic below. More details and sign-up info. Looking forward to being part of this.

Libeskind building holloway

20th Anniversary Irish Writers in London Summer School 11 June to 17 July 2015, London Metropolitan University.



Rarebit is launching in Cardiff on Short Story Day (21 December 2013). If you are in Cardiff the tour kicks off at 2pm, outside Waterstones Cardiff (The Hayes) and will criss cross central Cardiff until 4pm. Full info from Parthian Books

I am very pleased to be among the writers whose stories make up the Rarebit anthology. Writer and editor Susie Wild’s selection is bound to prove interesting. As an actual physical book Rarebit should be rather special as Cardiff artist John Abell has made a woodcut for each story. (More about the book here and the artist here). Personally I love the visual simplicity of woodcuts, and even did a class once to learn how to make them. They look simple but are hard work: you get this thing like a screwdriver with a V-shape at the end, and have to gouge out chunks of wood with it, working in negative. I still have not seen a copy as I have been stuck at home with a bad cold, watching light coatings of snow bring a look of seasonal glitter to the town, but the book can be bought at good bookshops or ordered from the publisher.

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New events for 2013: into the green

Country Road near Bantry, West Cork, Ireland

So first off is a reading on Saturday 23 March at literary salon The Word Factory, hosted by the lovely Cathy Galvin at The Society Club, London W1. The Word Factory (or Story Salon as early incarnations were called) is bringing lots of fresh energy to literary events in London. Recent and forthcoming readers include Hanif KureishiNicholas RoyleTania Hershman,  Adam Marek and Kevin Barry. I’ll be reading alongside Joe DunthorneStuart Evers and Hassan Blasim. If you’re in London that weekend do try to make it along…

The Word Factory 8

And a bit further down the line, in July, I’m heading off to Bantry to read at West Cork Literary Festival. I’ve read here before and quite apart from its gorgeous location in the very pleasant seaside market town of Bantry, I just really enjoyed this festival because it has such a warm atmosphere. Best of all if you attend in a spontaneous, last minute, just-passing-through kind of way, several events each day are free and for these events you only need to show up to attend. My reading is on Wednesday 10 July.

And finally, am very pleased to be invited to read at the Favour Exchange Book Club, which apparently has also hosted visits from authors David Mitchell and Fintan O’Toole. Always good to visit Clon, should be fun.

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