Small Wonder Short Story Festival

smallwonder

Don’t miss out on Small Wonder – the jewel in the crown of short fiction calendar!

Running from 28 September to 2 October at Charleston, the Bloomsbury home of art and ideas, nestled in the South Downs in East Sussex (shuttle buses to and from Lewes Station for every event).

Catch Ali Smith receiving the Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction Award and a new generation of prize-winning writers including Kevin Barry, Eimear McBride, Lisa McInerney, Kei Miller and Petina Gappah. Lionel Shriver, Elif Shafek and Salley Vickers pay tribute to Charlotte Brontë, and actress Juliet Stevenson reads Poems the Make Grown Women Cry. Join in The Literary Death Match and the Short Story Slam and hone your own writing skills in creative writing workshops.

Browse the programme and book tickets now!

Ethel Rohan’s Brilliance of Brevity Workshop

Photo by Eva Stoyanov

Photo by Eva Stoyanov

San Francisco-based Irish writer, Ethel Rohan, with teach a “Brilliance of Brevity” writing workshop in both fiction and non-fiction as part of the upcoming Abroad Writers’ Conference. Three afternoons, December 14-16, 2015, at Butler’s Townhouse, Ballsbridge, Dublin. All levels welcome.

Conference participants also include luminaries John Banville, Kevin Barry, John Boyne, Mary Costello, Medbh McGuckian, and many more. Jeff Kleinman, literary agent, Folio Literary Management, Declan Meade, Founder, The Stinging Fly Magazine and Press, and Leah Maines, Director, Finishing Line Press, will also be in attendance.

To register for Ethel Rohan’s workshop please contact Conference Director, Nancy Gerbault: nancygerbault at gmail.com or contact Ethel directly: ethelrohan at gmail.com.

Edge Hill Prize 2014 Open For Submissions

Hard to believe that we’re now into the eighth year of the Edge Hill Prize. The idea came up after a one day conference I organised for short story writers and critics back in 2006. We wanted to help raise the status of the form, encouraging British publishers to accept and promote single author collections. After all this time, the Edge Hill Prize is still unique in the UK. Since we began, several major new short story awards have run alongside the National Short Story Prize  – for instance the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award and the Costa Prize – but they all recognize a stand-alone story. The Frank O’Connor Award is a much bigger prize than ours, and an inspiration, but its shortlist tends to be dominated by American authors. The Edge Hill Prize awards £5000 to an author born or based in the British Isles, including Ireland, for a collection published in the previous year, with an additional £1000 Readers’ Choice prize, currently judged by BA Creative Writing students at Edge Hill. Winners so far have been Colm Tóibín, Claire Keegan, Chris Beckett, Jeremy Dyson, Graham Mort, Sarah Hall and Kevin Barry.

The deadline for entries is the first week in March. At this stage of the yearly cycle, the parcels are gradually arriving from the publishers – first, as always, the small presses, with entries from Welsh and Irish authors already looking strong. Later in March we’ll announce a longlist, narrowing that down to a shortlist of five by early May. Shortlisting is carried out by staff and postgraduates, in consultation with the three main judges. It’s a difficult and painstaking process; there can be no simple tick-box procedure. Broadly speaking, we’re looking for something that compels us to read on, something exciting in the language, and something that fully exploits the short story form. There are many gifted writers who don’t quite make the shortlist.  One or two of their stories may be outstanding, but they haven’t maintained that high standard across the whole collection. Other collections are too limited in style or subject matter, so that you feel that each story is a variation of the one that came before.

Last year the shortlisting process was made even more difficult by a record-breaking longlist. Bloomsbury had named 2012 ‘the year of the short story’, and other publishers, both independent and mainstream, seemed to share that sentiment. Even extending the shortlist to six (Kevin Barry, Emma Donoghue, Jon McGregor, Adam Marek, Jane Rogers, Lucy Wood) meant excluding some authors who in another year might have been finalists. As Graham Mort said, accepting the prize 2011, ‘literary prizes were never intended to provoke competition alone, but to celebrate diversity, quality and commitment’. The seven shortlists so far have been an inventory of the most exciting writing in the British Isles, including work by Jackie Kay, Helen Simpson, Anne Enright, A.L. Kennedy, Robert Shearman and many others.

The 2014 judging panel includes last year’s winner, Kevin Barry, Katie Allen of welovethisbook.com and Carys Bray who was the first winner of a third award category, presented for a story by a current MA Creative Writing student at Edge Hill. Her collection, Sweet Home, was subsequently published by Salt to great acclaim. With Carys on the panel, the prize has come full circle, completing the inextricable links between short story writing and reading, which turn emerging talents into established authors.

The award ceremony this year will be on 3rd July at the Free Word Centre in London. I have no idea who will be on the shortlist this year, let alone who the winner will be.

The judges’ discussions have always been spirited and amicable, fuelled by enthusiasm for the short story form, and the decisions have been difficult but always unanimous. None of us know exactly what we’re looking for, but we always recognize it when we see it.

To see terms and conditions and how to enter the competition, go to Edge Hill Prize