Yesterday I spent a fantastic day at the first ever London Short Story Festival. I was invited to attend a panel along with three writers whose stories have all inspired me to write better over the last five or so years that I have been studying, writing and publishing short stories. The panel was an absolute pleasure with Tania Hershman, Adam Marek and Robert Shearman proving to be as warm and weird and full of heart as the fiction they write.

I wanted to share the highlights of the day with all of you, so here they are:

  • Up at 5am. Drove for an hour to the nearest direct station to London. Read some choice cuts from Kjell Askildsen’s Selected Stories on the train. Perfect LSSF reading:

LSSF Train Reading

  • Kings Cross to Piccadilly Circus. Left a copy of Looking Out of Broken Windows on the platform at Piccadilly Circus as part of Books on the Underground:

LSSF Books Underground

  • Quick breakfast of egg and bacon muffin and orange juice then into Waterstones where I saw my name up in lights on the event chalkboard alongside so many fabulous short story writers:

LSSF Chalkboard

  • And found my book in amongst some of my favourite collections:

LSSF Book table

  • Met Tania, Robert and Adam, talked some weird and wonderful stuff then headed upstairs to the event space to talk more in front of an audience and found that the room was pretty much packed out:

LSSF Weird and Wonderful audience

  • As we read from our weird fiction (and what a pleasure to hear Adam and Robert read from some of my favourite short stories) it was clear that while our stories are all weird, they are weird in very different ways:

LSSF Weird and Wonderful 1

  • Spoke to some lovely readers and signed some books. Met a whole host of lovely readers and writers in person who I had only perviously met on social media. Then got interviewed by the film crew about my favourite short story.
  • Headed down to the green room for five, where the lovely Robert Shearman let me get a photo to prove to my Doctor Who loving boys  that he was indeed a real person I had met (Robert’s episode ‘Dalek’ is among their absolute favourites):

LSSF Dan And Robert Shearman

  • Robert then very kindly drew them a Dalek, which the boys are going to frame and hang on their bedroom wall:

LSSF Robert Shearman's Dalek

  • Attended the Gatekeepers panel, chaired by the brilliant Vanessa Gebbie and was stunned and chuffed to discover, amongst loads of other great nuggets of publishing info, that the Openings Lines shortlist I am on was whittled down from 2,000 to the final twenty shortlistees.
  • A quick stop in the green room for a banana or two, a packet of crisps and a Kit Kat and then I was off across London to catch the Comics Unmasked exhibition at the British Library before jumping on the train home and into a few more Kjell Askildsen stories.

My all too brief visit to this year’s London Short Story Festival was a real pleasure and I would like to publicly thank Paul McVeigh, his team and all at Spread the Word for making the event possible. I sincerely hope it becomes the regular fixture on the literary scene that it deserves to be as I am already looking forward to next year’s events.

If you are in London today, stop by Waterstones Piccadilly, check out the last day of events and go find a short story to fall in love with.