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Welcome to The Literary Pig's blog - a safe haven for all those afflicted with
the unbearable urge to write.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Let's hear it for Wendy Clarke: 100 Sales!

LitPig has raided the chocolate tin to help someone celebrate a writing milestone. Okay, I confess it's not me. I've recently written short story number 118 and hit 47 stories published, but that's nothing compared to what my writing chum, Wendy Clarke has achieved. She hit 100 stories sold some time ago, that's old news, but last week she achieved a new milestone: 100 sales to The People's Friend. 100 sales to one magazine! That's pretty amazing we think. Pop over to Wendy's blog and read about her journey to this magic target.

I'll share a little secret with you. LitPig has a bit of a crush on our Wendy (see photo right) and fondly remembers when he interviewed her about launching her debut collection Room in Your Heart (read the interview post here).
Shyly, he plucked up the courage today to ask how she was planning to celebrate 100 sales. This is what she told him:
I've been asked a lot about how I've celebrated this milestone and my answer has got to be "I haven't". There have been many lovely milestones along my People's Friend journey - first sale, first article, first serial and of course the publication of Room in Your Heart that I couldn't celebrate them all. What I actually did after that 100th sale was walk the dog... then write another story!

There's a lesson for all wannabe writers. Celebrate by writing something new.

(I don't believe a word of it. I've seen her polish off giant slabs of cake without any excuse for a celebration!)

Check out Wendy's two collections of short stories:
They can be bought from Amazon as ebooks or paperbacks. Both are cracking good reads.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Reading off-piste: Discovering new voices (part 2)

In September I shared some of the new voices (new to me) I'd discovered from my dissertation reading (read the post here). Don't tell my tutor but I've also been reading off the list, off-piste so to speak, and I want to share some of my new finds. Here are a small selection of short collections that have caught my imagination ... so far ...
The Rental Heart and other fairytales by Kirsty Logan
An impressive debut collection of short stories. I enjoyed all of these. Some are saucy, others surreal and I love how many really did end happily.
Kirsty Logan recently won the 2015 Polari First Book Award for this collection.
(I was lucky enough to get my copy signed by Kirsty at the London Short Story Festival back in June. She is absolutely lovely and genuinely believes in happy endings.)

The Redemption of Galen Pike by Carys Davies
An absorbing and imaginative second collection of short stories from VS Pritchett winner, Carys Davies. I didn't take to all of these, a couple had late twists to the stories which I felt came too quickly to close the story but many were excellent. The title story is one of the best.

Carys Davies has just won the 2015 Frank O' Connor International Short Story Award for this collection.

Clown's Shoes by Rebecca F John
Clown’s Shoes is Rebecca F John’s debut collection of short stories and what a blazing collection of images it is. Several stories come with an excellent pedigree such as The Sunday Times EFG shortlisted The Glove Maker’s Numbers and Salting Home, listed for the Manchester Prize. I enjoyed the setting of each story as John seems to easily flit across time periods from the Victorian madhouse of The Glove Maker’s Numbers to a concentration camp in WWII. Others have a more contemporary feel or are suitably timeless in setting. I loved how her stories touched on a multitude of themes and concepts sweeping from live naked theatre shows of the 20s (Clown’s Shoes) to a death defying magic stunt (Bullet Catch). Clearly, this is a short story writer who pursues her fascinations and obsessions rather than concentrating on one theme – I relished this aspect of the collection as each story came as a complete package. Starting a new story was like unwrapping a gift, you had a hint of the contents from the title, but once inside it was a unique surprise – a genuine treat. A couple of the stories towards the end of the collection didn’t quite hit the mark for me, such as Running for Bernie (I’m not a fan of reproducing dialect/speech too accurately and this quickly began to irritate within the story, for me) and Hunting Shishe, which didn’t reel me in. One of my absolute favourites was Salting Home, a story about a long missing child returned home and the issues that linger after the happy reunion. I wanted to know so much more about the characters.

Rebecca F John has just been announced as the 2015 PEN International/New Voices Award for her short story Moon Dog (which is included in Clown's Shoes).

Have you read any of the above writers? Do share if you have any favourite contemporary short story writers...

Sunday, 11 October 2015

And the winner is ...

To follow-up on my previous post talking through the shortlisted stories for the 2015 BBC National Short Story Award the winner and runner-up were announced a few days ago. I was pleased to learn one of my favourites 'Briar Road' by Jonathan Buckley took the top prize, with Mark Haddon and his story 'Bunny' coming runner-up. You can listen here to Jonathan Buckley talking about his story on Front Row.