Reaching the end of the year is always a time for reflection, so here goes.
2014 was the year my first book, Looking Out of Broken Windows, was published, and as such was a year of firsts. I had my first experience of the proofing process, saw my book on the shelves of an honest-to-goodness bookshop for the first time, had my first reviews, and their was even coverage in my local newspapers. The collection was even long listed for the Frank O’Connor International Prize. Admittedly, the longest features every short fiction collection submitted for entry that year, it was great to see my book listed alongside so many great collections by writers I admire. There was also the mandatory virtual book tour which saw me being interviewed and guest-posting all over the book-net, click here for the full list of links to posts.
As well as being a momentous occasion itself, the publication of the collection was also the spark that lead to a whole host of other firsts this year. In February and June I attended my first literary festivals, Oxted and London Short Story Festival, as an author invited to talk about short stories and the writing of the collection, meeting some of my writing heroes along the way. You can watch videos of myself, Adam Marek and Robert Shearman at the London Short Story Festival here and read Rachel Spellman’s wonderful review of the event over on Synesthaesia here. I also appeared at a couple of local venue’s, giving a reading from the collection at The Book Stop Cafe in Lincoln as part of Lincoln Inspired and leading a writing workshop in Louth during the excellent Wold’s Words festival.
Having the collection under my belt helped me be selected by Writing East Midlands for their mentoring programme and just a month or so ago I met for the first time with my mentor Niki Valentine (aka Nicola Monaghan) who will be helping me along the road to my writing goals for 2015. More on that to come on the blog. The publication of the collection and my mentoring interviews with Writing East Midlands also led to my being invited to become a Writing in Residence with First Story. I am currently at the half-way point of the process, and over the last twelve weeks or so the boys from Banovallum have produced a whole body of first drafts and a few polished pieces ready for the next series of workshops which will see us working to produce an anthology of their writing by Easter. First Story are a fantastic charity, one well worth donating to, and I feel very lucky to be involved in such an exciting project.
In other news, 2014 was also the year:
- I completed my MA studies. I am currently awaiting the results, which should appear some time in the next 6 weeks or so. Fingers crossed.
- I was shortlisted for the final Willesden Herald Short Story Prize.
- I came runner-up, for the second year running, in the Thresholds Essay writing Competition. My essay was all about Yoshihiro Satsuma’s excellent collection of graphic short stories (by which I mean short stories in the comic strip form rather than the alternative, though the stories do feature adult themes and imagery) The Push Man and other stories. Read the essay here.
- I nearly had a story accepted by BBC Radio 4, getting as far as the final shortlist of twenty stories from which three were picked for production.
- I took part in the judging of this year’s Carve Esoteric Award.
- I appeared on the MMU Novella blog, talking about Véronique Olmi’s tragic tale, Beside the Sea.
- I blogged a little less, but the blog features a whole host of posts about stuff that got me thinking this year. Click here to see what else I was up to in 2014.
So, all in all a busy and brilliant year for me. I am very grateful for all of you who have taken time to read this blog, my stories or the collection. 2014 has been a bigger year for me than I had hoped for and I hope it has been a great year for you too. Here’s to a brilliant 2015 for all of us. Happy New Year!