Category Archives: Short fFction

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 Length and theme are unimportant – just send the best unpublished piece you have, up to a max of 7500 words.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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an Alt.Valentine Story of the Month on Seren Books

Read this story on the Seren website

Giveaway: The Dublin Review

The Dublin Review by Post

Secret. Best thing about having a story in The Dublin Review? (Revolution postage stamps aside.) Earning a contributor listing below Antonin Artaud, whose ‘An absented-minded person of the student type’ from Issue 1 of the Review is essential reading. Artaud’s penniless travels in Ireland are traced here in official letters, but despite being told at one remove the story is one we can all identify with. The compelling ‘Rough Sleeper’ by Arnold Thomas Fanning in the current issue explores similar experiences from a lucid insider perspective. Haven’t read the whole issue yet, am saving the rest for a longish journey coming up,  but it all looks good… The Dublin Review can be bought here. Or to win a copy, just add a comment below. Optional tie-breaker: name an Irish band you will be listening to this winter, and why. Entries close Friday 16 December 2016, so the prize can reach the winner by that day. Oh, and here’s a pic of the prize to motivate you.


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Bumper edition of The Lonely Crowd

Happy to have couple of pieces on the way in the new Lonely Crowd anthology, which features suitably chill cover art by writer Jo Mazelis. The Lonely Crowd is a series of anthologies of fiction, poetry and photography. Publications like this are so important, because they provide a space to experiment and to play with words (and images). Don’t get me wrong, I love the internet but… It’s so nice that The Lonely Crowd exists as a print publication as well as having a healthy online presence. So am really looking forward to receiving my print copy, and leaving it lying around so that friends, family and visitors visit can pick it up, dip in and out, and talk about it, without a smartphone or a laptop in sight!

The Lonely Crowd is edited by writer John Lavin (read one of his stories online here) and costs £9 a pop, P&P free from TLC direct


The Winter edition, out in early January 2017, is Number 6 in the series, and features new writing by: Robert Minhinnick, Nuala O’Connor, Niall Griffiths, Tom Vowler, Constantinos Andronis, Ingrid Casey, Ellen Davies, Diana Powell, Rhian Elizabeth, Sue Moules, Tony Bianchi, Lander Hawes, Anne Griffin, Emily Devane, Susmita Bhattachary, Paul Davenport-Randell, Iain Robinson, Richard Smyth, Mark Blayney, Mari Ellis Dunning, Nora Shychuk, Derwen Morfayel, John Saul, Neil Campbell, Bethany W. Pope, Kelly Creighton, Alys Conran, Jackie Gorman, Kate North and Jeanette Sheppard.

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This little story was written in 2015 and accepted early this year. For editorial reasons there was a gap between acceptance and publication, during which time several people read @2016EvieSo big thanks are due to Flo, Siófra, Brendan, and Fachtna for their encouragement. Thanks also to the publisher, Number Eleven magazine — great to see @2016EVIE up there because it’s a lovely magazine to read. Ive been enjoying the current issue which features new stories by Eoin Devereux, Carolyn Batcheler, Gerard McKeown, and others. Two memorable (and somewhat thematically linked) stories from previous issues are Marie Kennedy’s Two Sheets to The Wind and Claire Hennessy’s This is Not the Story, and it’s nice to know that @2016EVIE is now keeping them company.


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