By Paul McVeigh
THE SHORT STORY IS HOT. Last year Lydia Davies won the International Man Booker and Alice Monroe won the Nobel Prize. This year Fiction Uncovered included short story collections in their yearly search for books to promote and the new Folio Prize included them when recognising the best fiction of the year and guess what? The only short story collection on the shortlist, ‘Tenth of December’ by George Saunders, won. So, as I was saying… hot!
I love short stories. I’ve really immersed myself in that world the last couple of years. I’ve written some that have been published in journals and anthologies and been commissioned by BBC Radio 4. In July I’m going to Vienna to the bi-annual International Short Story Conference, and to Cork Short Story Festival in September. I have an upcoming piece in The Stinging Fly, a contemporary literary journal from Ireland that I love and am working on a themed collection, a sort of novel-in-short-stories.
I started a short story blog about a year and a half ago, posting on submission opportunities (competitions and lit journals) and interviewing writers – Booker shortlisted Alison Moore, Edge Hill and IMPAC Award winning Kevin Barry and most recently spent the afternoon with George Saunders, before he won the Folio Prize that evening. My blog has gone from 200 hits month to getting 40,000. People want to write them and read them.
I got involved with Word Factory, the UK’s leading short story event, by turning up to the first event with my camera and asking if I could help. A year and half later I’m Deputy Editor. I’ve seen Lionel Shiver, Kevin Barry, Hanif Kureishi and AS Byatt and listened to them talk about writing. Word Factory is more than an evening of listening to the best short story writers in the world – it’s an education. Get on the mailing list and come along to one of the events running in Waterstones Piccadilly, the largest bookshop in Europe, the last Saturday of every month. We now do masterclasses before each salon and a free short story club where you can come and talk short stories with other writers – we’ll even send you the short story free! Word Factory was founded by Cathy Galvin, who also founded the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award, the richest short story award in the world. I went to the ceremony recently to see Adam Johnson win £30,000 – yes, you heard me – for his short story.
It’s going to be something pretty special.
At the minute I’m curating the London Short Story Festival for London’s writer development agency, Spread the Word. Taking place June 20-22nd at Waterstones Piccadilly, the festival will have readings, panel events, workshops and masterclasses. We have some of the hottest names around, new sensation Colin Barrett and the only British girl on the Sunday Times Award shortlist, Anna Metcalfe. International names are coming too like Claire Keegan, whose work appears in the New Yorker, Jackie Kay MBE, BBC National Short Story Award winner Clare Wigfall, Adam Marek, AL Kennedy, Helen Simpson, Dr Who writer Robert Sherman… the list goes on. Short stories to suit every taste. We will launch the Best of British Short Stories Anthology 2014 and the London Short Story Prize. We’re also planning a writers’ space where you can spend the day writing and some visiting writers will come in and out leading exercises for you. We want this feel like a Festival, a celebration. It’s going to be something pretty special.
You can visit Paul’s blog at www.paulmcveigh.blogspot.co.uk