-Can you please tell us about you? Where do you live and how is your daily life?
I work in local government in Yorkshire
- How did you come up with the idea for your LISP selected story? Is there a story
behind your story? And how long have you been working on it?
One of my favourite artists is a Dutch painter called Jan Steen. He was famous for depicting daily life in wonderful, vibrant canvases full of the bustle of human activity.
They were effectively stories in paint, showing people at their (often disreputable)
daily business. I wanted to recreate that Jan Steen mood in a story, relating a day’s
activity at a small town fair. As a result, the story doesn’t have the usual linear
approach of beginning – middle – end or inciting event – response – outcome.
Rather, it relates a loosely connected series of events culminating in a huge and
boisterous fight. I hope I captured the humour of Jan Steen’s paintings.
The story is adapted from my novel, Cloudland, and there are three or four of these
set-piece events in the novel. They tend to come immediately before significant plot
developments. Cloudland is about community and kinship, the need to belong and
the pain of disconnection. You can read extracts on my blog at:
I am currently looking for representation or a publisher for Cloudland. Stories taken
from it or featuring characters from it have won or been placed in twenty separate
competitions in the past couple of years.
- When did you start writing? How often do you write? We
want to learn all about your writing life!
I have also completed a second novel, called Cuddies Strip, based on a true crime in
1930s Perth. That was a fascinating historical period with strong resonances with our
current world climate. Years of economic depression had created a febrile
atmosphere and nationalism was rising across Europe. People started looking
inward, becoming mistrustful of strangers. We know how badly it ended in 1939 and
the parallels with today are frightening.
- How did you feel when you learned that you are a Finalist on The London
Independent Story Prize?
Fantastic! I’ve had quite a barren spell with regards to winning competitions or
having anything published and that affects the confidence. Being a finalist at LISP
made my day. I’ve been shortlisted before, in the Flash competition, so maybe next
time I’ll go one further and win it!
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Short Story?
For me, it’s plot. As a writer, I’m very character driven. I really want to delve into the
minds of my characters and understand them. As a result, plot is sometimes
secondary for me. It’s something I need to work on.
-Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on 1500-Word Short Story and
Yes, I definitely recommend LISP. There are lots of competitions out there, and the
quality is variable. Deadlines changing, poor communication, weak administration,
they all happen, but LISP has always seemed very professional and well run.