Story of the Month, July 2020

For the next in our 2020 lockdown series, we revisit the joint-winner of our inaugural short story competition. Some of you may be running around without face or leg coverings for the allowed daily exercise but it's not compulsory, you know. Happily, we can still stay home and read short stories. (Ed)

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

July 2020: Dodie’s Gift by Vanessa Gebbie

Later, in The Tinners, they sit together in Dodie’s corner on sagging burgundy plush cushions. He has bought her a cider, he drinks beer from the bottle. They talk. Dodie is half listening, looking at the scratches through the varnish on the table…”

Vanessa Gebbie

Novelist, short story writer, poet, Vanessa Gebbie has won awards for both poetry and prose, including the Troubadour International Poetry Prize, a Bridport short story prize and a much-coveted Willesden Herald short story prize. Author of ten various books, her novel The Coward’s Tale (Bloomsbury) was a Financial Times novel of the year, and her debut poetry pamphlet was selected by the TLS as one of the best of its year. She is commissioning and contributing editor of Short Circuit, Guide to the Art of the Short Story, editions 1 and 2 (Salt). She teaches widely. www.vanessagebbie.com

The author of “Dodie’s Gift” cares about character. It is a beautiful piece about two people circling each other, wondering whether to make contact.

Zadie Smith (Judge’s report – Willesden short story prize 2006)

Dodie’s Gift was first published in Words from a Glass Bubble, Salt Publishing, 2008

Story of the Month, June 2020

In the second of our 2020 lockdown series, you are the writer. Have you ever missed a step on the stairs or turned back in fear? Have you ever given someone a piece of your mind? Are you an object of desire or the subject? Stay home.

Ed.

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

June 2020: Imagine that this Page is Empty by Nick Holdstock

As Richard tends the first patient of the evening – a young woman with black eye make-up and an arm wound – he thinks of the pills, safe in their bottle, doubly safe in his jacket, safer still in his locker. The arm wound is self-inflicted. It is too precise.

Nick Holdstock is the author of The Casualties, a novel, and several books about China.

“Imagine that this Page is Empty” is from his collection, The False River (Unthank Books, 2019).

Story of the Month, May 2020

Looking for respite from the lockdown?

You’ve come to the right place.

Ed.

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

May 2020: The Time Capsule by John O’Donoghue

“They all fell silent for a moment. I could see them trying to look into the future, to imagine themselves as adults, married maybe, perhaps with families of their own, working away in jobs like Uncle Tommy in the Post Office, or Auntie Lizzie in the nursing before she was married, or gone to England, like my mother and father, or even further afield.”

John O’Donoghue

John O’Donoghue is the author of Letter To Lord Rochester (Waterloo Press, 2004), The Beach Generation (Pighog Press, 2007), Brunch Poems (Waterloo Press, 2009), Sectioned: A Life Interrupted (John Murray, 2009), Fools & Mad (Waterloo Press, 2014), and The King From Over the Water (The Wild Geese Press, 2019). Sec­tioned was awarded Mind Book of the Year in 2010. His journalism, essays, and reviews have been published in The Observer, The Guardian, The Times Educational Supplement, The London Magazine, PN Review, Acumen, and Orbis. He lives in Brighton and teaches Creative Writing at the Brighton Writers’ Centre.

The Time Capsule comes from The King from Over The Water (The Wild Geese Press, 2019).

Story of the Month, September 2019

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

September 2019: Rip Rap by Dan Powell

“It is still dark when you finally arrive. A few streetlights set about the expanse of the cliff-top car park are dead, their bulbs ghostly and pale as blind eyes. All the parking bays are empty. The dim glow of the dashboard clock displays just after four, but like the speedometer, like the fuel gauge, like everything about the Astra, the hands are old and tired and worn and not to be trusted. It’s a miracle the car got this far.”

Dan_Powell_authorshot

Dan Powell’s prize-winning short fiction has appeared in the pages of Being Dad, The Lonely Voice, Unthology, The London Magazine and Best British Short Stories. His debut collection, Looking Out of Broken Windows, was shortlisted for the Scott Prize and longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the Edge Hill Prize. He is currently working on a second story collection and a debut novel, is a First Story writer-in-residence, and a Doctoral Researcher in Creative Writing at University of Leicester. He procrastinates at danpowellfiction.com and on Twitter as @danpowfiction.

Continuing our retrospective series, “Rip Rap” is included in Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 8, together with stories by  Jo Barker Scott, Joan Brennan, Gina Challen, Nick Holdstock, CG Menon, Angela Sherlock, Megan Taylor, Medina Tenour Whiteman and Lindsay Waller-Wilkinson.

Story of the Month, August 2019

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

August 2019: Dark Song by Roberta Dewa

“I slip into the water. I didn’t plan to swim, but there’s still static fizzing in my veins from last night’s concert and as the river laps me up I’m cooling down, the static disappearing into a string of bubbles streaming out all around me and rising up from the deep channel, like there’s a diver down there somewhere.

Robie Dewa - Photo by Ursula Kelly Photography

Roberta Dewa has always written fiction, and in her twenties published three historical novels with Robert Hale. While studying for various degrees she published poetry and short fiction, including a first short story collection, Holding Stones (Pewter Rose Press, 2009). In 2013 she published a memoir, The Memory of Bridges, and a contemporary novel followed: The Esplanade (Weathervane Press, 2014). Since retiring from university teaching, she has been writing poetry and short stories again, and in November 2017 won the Willesden Herald prize with her story Dark Song. She is currently coming to the end of the first draft of a new novel.

Continuing our retrospective series, “Dark Song” is included in Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 10 having won first prize in the WH short story competition 2017. Visit Robert Dewa – Author and Lecturer.

* Photo copyright (c) Ursula Kelly Photography

Story of the Month, July 2019

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

July 2019: Curtains by Charles Lambert

“When Helen gets back from the hospital the house is empty. She leaves her weekend bag by the door and wanders from room to room, the kitchen, the hall, the living room, and then upstairs, pausing for breath on the halfway landing, her hands folded over her stomach. She rests her hand on the door to David’s study…”

Charles Lambert

Charles Lambert was born in the United Kingdom but has lived in Italy for most of his adult life. His most recent novel is Prodigal, recently longlisted for the Polari Prize 2019. His previous novel, The Children’s Home, was praised by Kirkus Reviews as ‘a one-of-a-kind literary horror story’, while Two Dark Tales, published in October 2017, was described by Owen King as the work of a ‘terrific devious story teller’. Earlier books include three novels, a collection of prize-winning short stories and a memoir, With a Zero at its Heart, selected by the Guardian as one of its top ten books from 2014.

Continuing our retrospective series, “Curtains” is included in Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 6 together with stories by Eliza Robertson, Virginia Gilbert, Nick Holdstock, Geraldine Mills and others.

Visit Charles Lambert’s blog on WordPress.

Story of the Month, June 2019

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

June 2019: Set Dance by Angela Sherlock

“Suddenly, very precisely placing the oddity of individual lives in the perspective of a bigger, slower rural pattern where everything can be accepted…Angela Sherlock’s Set Dance, a very unusual story, a very interesting story.” (Maggie Gee)

angelasherlock

Angela Sherlock has worked in engineering and in education, but now lives in Devon where she writes full time. She has published reviews and articles but now concentrates on fiction. ‘Set Dance’ comes from her collection, To know they dreamed, which explores the Irish diaspora. She is currently working on a collection that takes its themes from elements of the periodic table. Her stories have appeared in literary journals and anthologies, the most recent online in Virtual Zine. (www.angelasherlock.com)

“Set Dance” is also available in Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 5 together with stories by eleven other outstanding writers.

Story of the Month, May 2019

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

May 2019: Rash by Megan Taylor

“The ancient hinged mirror reflected back three Frans, each one streaked. Beyond her, the walls of her bedroom were a faded peach, her teenage posters removed long ago, but in the lamp’s glow, the walls appeared duskier than usual and Fran also looked muted, almost satiny, despite the rash.”

Megan Taylor

Megan Taylor is the author of three novels, ‘How We Were Lost’ (Flame Books, 2007), ‘The Dawning’ (Weathervane Press, 2010) and ‘The Lives of Ghosts’ (Weathervane Press, 2012), as well as a collection, ‘The Woman Under the Ground and Other Stories’ (Weathervane Press, 2014), which includes her Willesden Herald’s shortlisted ‘Rash’.

Recent short stories have been placed in several competitions, and appeared in a variety of publications, including Dark Lane’s 6th and 7th anthologies and Neon.  A fourth novel, ‘We Wait’, is due out from Eyrie Press in 2019. (Website: www.megantaylor.info)

“Rash” is also available in Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 8 together with stories by nine other outstanding writers.

Story of the Month, April 2019

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

April 2019: Name by Sergey Bolmat

He looks at Anne with marked indifference, as if expecting her to introduce herself and explain the purpose of her visit, and then, after a second, makes a little twitch with the left corner of his lips indicating a smile.

‘Well,’ he says, ‘look who’s here.’ 

Sergey Bolmat photo by Natalia Nikitin (detail)

Sergey Bolmat published his first novel in Russia to great critical acclaim. To date, he has published three novels, two collections of short stories, many articles and essays in various periodicals, and a biography of Nikolay Chernyshevsky. Some of these books were shortlisted for literary awards, translated into many European languages, adapted for radio, and optioned and developed for film. His first short story written in English appeared in The Higgs Weldon.

* Photo: Sergey Bolmat by Natalia Nikitin (detail)

Story of the Month, January 2019

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

January 2019: Disappearing by Barbara Robinson

… Later, John places the kettle on the hob. I’m sitting at his kitchen
table again, rolling another joint. My eyes are level with his waistband
as he leans across me to take cups from a shelf, the tip of his tan-coloured
leather belt close to my face. I yank it …

Barbara Robinson

Barbara Robinson has an MA in Creative Writing from MMU and reads at literary events in Manchester. Her short story Supersum was short-listed for the 2016 Willesden Herald prize and her novel Elbow Street shortlisted for the 2018 Andrea Badenoch Fiction Award and longlisted for the Grindstone Literary 2018 Novel Prize. She has had short stories published in Ellipsis Zine and Fictive Dream.