Sunday, October 12, 2014

Coupla things

I'm not so good at the blogging anymore, forgive me, if there are any of you still reading this! What's been happening? Well, I've done a redesign of my website, do let me know what you think: Is it clear, easy to navigate, information, entertaining!

Geeks GirlsI am also very proud to have a new story in the Geek Girls issue of Canada's ROOM magazine, in print - that gorgeous thing to your left - which you can also read online, as a teaser to the issue, here. I am most definitely and unashamedly a geek and it is delightful to be recognised as such, and to celebrate geekness in all its guises!

I have also just begun as a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at Bristol University's science faculties, which means I now spend two days a week - in my own office! - helping science students with any writing for their courses, undergrad and postgrad, in confidential, one-on-one meetings. I've had my first two days and it was fascinating. Mostly I was reassuring those who came to see me that their writing's better than they had feared. A lovely job to have - and I get to pick up a little science, too!

And finally, but not least, I am getting excited about next weekend's Bridport Prize prize-giving, at which I get to bestow garlands on the winners of the flash fiction section, what an honour. I also get to run a workshop and then read with Andrew Miller and Liz Lockhead, the judges of the short story and the poetry sections! Am immensely looking forward to it, and to the company of the wonderful people I know will be there, and those I have yet to meet. See you there! 

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Visual Verse

It's a real honour to have been invited to be one of the lead writers on this month's Visual Verse, for which I wrote a poem, Portrait of Couple with Dog. If you don't know Visual Verse, do check it out:
Visual Verse: An Anthology of Art and Words
One image, one hour, 50-500 words.
The picture is the starting point, the text is up to you.
Then send it in to them, and they will publish it! They end up with a fabulous plethora of work all inspired by the same image, such a range, from the funny to the poignant. Go on, try it!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Moments of joy

You never know when they will come - sometimes it's that miraculous email or tweet from a stranger saying "I just had to tell you how much I enjoyed your ....". Today it's this blog post on the Arvon blog by one of the fantastic and delightful participants on the Starting to Write Short Stories course I co-tutored 2 weeks ago with Rob Shearman. When you run a workshop, you cross your fingers that, well, someone might get something, anything, out of it. You hope - you try things you've done before, you try new things. But you never really and truly know.

Until someone writes something like this, and it pretty much makes you cry:
" ... By Penrith I’m convinced that after such an intense week I’ll never settle to everyday life again. By Carlisle I start to worry how to break this awful news to my husband. I want to leave everything, turn my back on our previous life and write on an island retreat somewhere. By Motherwell I’m seriously nervous. The week has been truly intense and something in me feels forever altered.

Between Motherwell and Glasgow Central I take out my notebook and work on some of the pieces begun during my Arvon week.  I jot down a few thoughts and as I do I realise what the change has been. Two weeks ago I’d never have scribbled away on a train like this. I might daydream out of the window, passing the time, losing all those thoughts to the air. But now they’ve become a source of stories. Stories everywhere that only I can capture, only I can tell.

As we pull into Glasgow Central I am relieved to find that after all my marriage is safe, my lovely husband need never hear how deliciously unsettling my week turned out to be. But I also acknowledge this new need to make time and space in my day to write.

Because that’s who I am. I’m a writer.

Thank you Arvon.

by Colette Watson, a writer on the Starting to Write Short Stories week at Lumb Bank 4-9 August 2014" (Read the full post here)

Oh, thank you, Colette, for being so amazing and so open to everything, so ready. And thank you Arvon - who did this for me, years ago, and then did it again, and again. And now give me the immense pleasure to be able to attempt to pass some of that on. A joyous moment. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Bare Fiction prizes

So, I am one of the short story judges for this fine slew of prizes from the very fine lit mag Bare Fiction. The fabulous Rachel Trezise and I will be reading your short stories, and the wonderful Adam Horovitz is all over the poetry, while the excellent Angela Readman wants your tiny wordthings. Do check out the guidelines here. Really refreshing to see the same amount of money to be won in all categories - nothing privilieged above everything else due to form or word count. Nice.

And lest you think I spend my time only on the judgemental side of the fence, tis not true, because I'm fortunate enough to have had two poems longlisted for a poetry comp, and they will be included in the competition anthology - regardless of what happens next with shortlists and so on, so yippee! I have said it before, will say it again - longlists are not to be sniffed at. As a judge, I know that it's often the greatest leap from large pile to longlist, and the tiniest of steps from that onwards, so I am delighted! Good luck to everything you bravely send out into the world! I would be delighted to read some of it.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

That Dark Remembered Day

I am delighted to welcome Tom Vowler back to the blog today, to talk about his brand new novel - his third book - That Dark Remembered Day. Tom was here last year talking about his first novel, What Lies Within, and two years before that to chat about his short story collection, The Method. He's not been sitting still much! Below, we play Word Association, with Tom answering in the voice of his main character. But first...

 Alison Moore, author of The Lighthouse, called That Dark Remembered Day "a compelling story about damage done, a touching exploration of the possibility of forgiveness and recovery" and Anthony McGowan, author of Mortal Coil, said: "Almost every page has the sort of perfect sentence or paragraph that makes you want to elbow the stranger next to you on the train, point with a stubby finger, and say: ‘Read that. Just read it.'"

Here's a quick synopsis: 

A son returns to where he grew up, where his mother still lives and where a terrible event in his childhood changed the lives of every person living there. As the story unfolds through the eyes of the son, the mother and finally the father, the reader experiences the taut build up to one day's tragic unravelling, and the shock waves that echoed through a once happy family and close-knit community. Will they ever be able to exorcise the damage of that day or do some wounds run too deep?

Tom is giving away a copy to one lucky blog reader - just leave a comment below! Here's a little bit about Tom: " Tom Vowler is a novelist and short story writer living in south west England. His debut collection, The Method, won the Scott Prize in 2010, and his novel What Lies Within received critical acclaim. He is co-editor of the literary journal Short Fiction and an associate lecturer in creative writing at Plymouth University, where he’s completing a PhD looking at the role of the editor in fiction. That Dark Remembered Day is his second novel. More at"

To whet your appetite further, here are me and Tom playing Word Association, with Tom answering as Stephen from That Dark Remembered Day:


Sanctuary by the sea.


Betrayed in childhood. Forgiveness sought.


Work, the sea, escape.


Eccentric, avoided.




Father remained there.


Broken forever. New one found.


Buried. Unwelcome.


Cover. Truth hidden.




Daughter. Wife. Hope.

Intrigued? You should be! To find about more about Tom's amazing novel, visit his website. Don't forget - to be in with a chance of winning a copy, leave a comment below. Thanks for playing, Tom!