Story of the Month, December 2021

Not much sign of mystical religious experience in contemporary short stories, is there? We are here to remedy that with another unusual story of the month. Prepare to be conveyed to the boundary between the here and now and the ineffable beyond. Ed.

The Willesden Herald Story of the Month

December 2021: Not Like a River, But a Tree by James Roderick Burns

Seated again, he closed his eyes. Now and then he had sampled High Anglican services (had, in fact, dragged along both Maureen and the children) where the priest broke out the censer, smoking the pews like a beekeeper gently rousing his charges, but he preferred things here in the cathedral: high enough, quite solemn to be sure, but musical and slightly imperfect; human, somehow, and all the better for it. Sometimes he’d invited people from the office.

James Roderick Burns’ short story collection, Beastly Transparencies, is due from Eyewear Publishing in 2022. He is the author of three collections of poetry – most recently The Worksongs of the Worms (2018, haiku) – and a short fiction pamphlet, A Bunch of Fives. His work has appeared in a number of journals and magazines, including The Guardian, Modern Haiku, The North and The Scotsman.


Story of the Month, November 2021

Give your mind a workout with a short story that I, for one, will not forget any time soon. Ed.

The Willesden Herald Story of the Month

November 2021: The Blood of Our Virtue Smells Like Dirt by Jessica Fogal

Her mouth is wide and painted royal blue, her teeth stark white in comparison as she bares them at the ceiling in thought. She can pass for a corpse pulled cold from the salty water of the ocean outside her window, frail and blue and perfectly preserved.

“What do you want to be?” She asks me.

Jessica Fogal

Jessica Fogal lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest (USA), where she’s a full time legal assistant, amateur street photographer, and author. She’s been published in The Ilanot Review and has had many prints showcased in art galleries such as Terrain Spokane, and continues to use her lifelong passions for performance, visual, and literary arts as an inspiration for her creative writings.

Story of the Month, October 2021

We're back with all new stories. Here's something to think about because, you know, nothing at all is happening in the world these days, is it? Read the whole story before you make up your mind about this one. It might not be just what you think. (Ed.)

The Willesden Herald Story of the Month

October 2021: How They Do by Jack R. Johnson

“Al Nash kept the dark secret of his hair loss hidden under his favorite blue
canvas Navy cap, and pulled it even lower as he told his son, Troy Nash, about
Robert E. Lee …”

Jack R. Johnson

Jack R. Johnson is a monthly columnist for North of the James Magazine in Richmond, Virginia; an editor of The Alliance for Progressive Virginia blog and a contributor to Style Magazine. His published works include short stories, articles and the novel, An Animal’s Guide to Earthly Salvation. His latest novel, In Black and White, is scheduled to be published by Propertius Press in 2022.

Story of the Month, December 2020

We're back to sharing favourite stories. How could anyone not love a story that contains the line "I was a cactus."(?) And don't tell me it's not December, months last for years now! Ed.

The Willesden Herald Story of the Month

December 2020: Christmas Present by Lynsey Rose

Lynsey Rose

I wrote this a few years ago, when we were asked to write a story with the theme of Christmas for my writing group. Of course, Christmas is a crappy theme so you have to go the full ‘Carrie’ with it. Happy Christmas!

Lynsey Rose is the author of the novel First Aid Kit Girl, described as “girl meets razorblade meets boy…”

Story of the Month, September 2020

I dedicate the last of our 2020 lockdown series, and our last publication for the time being, to all those who have lost their lives and those bereaved in the Covid-19 pandemic. Follow the guidelines and stay well till all this is over. See you on the other side. (Ed.)

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

September 2020: As Long as it Takes by Susan Haigh

For Mireille, grief seems like an impossible dream.

Sue Haigh is a writer and Creative Writing tutor. She lives in North East Fife when she isn’t living in her cave house in France. Her work has been published in a number of journals and anthologies, including Northwords Now, New Writing Dundee, Mslexia, The Scottish Arts Trust anthology, Cadenza, Sunpenny Anthology, Dundee University Review of the Arts, The Short review and a number of academic journals.

As Long as it Takes was originally published in the Scottish Arts Trust Story Awards anthology (Scottish Arts Trust, 2019)

Story of the Month, August 2020

For the fourth in our summer lockdown series, a story of desperation. What could be more appropriate? And you know that light at the end of the tunnel? It's an oncoming train. Yes, it's being so cheerful that keeps us going. Ed.

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

August 2020: Unless He Is Born Again by David Butler

April. A figure is loitering in the vicinity of the bus station of a provincial town. He’s not the only stranger in the bus yard. There are strangers with almost every arrival and departure. There’s nothing about this man to suggest he’s a foreigner. But all the same, something in his aspect attracts suspicious looks.”

David Butler

David Butler’s third novel, City of Dis (New Island), was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, 2015. His second short story collection, Fugitive, is forthcoming from Arlen House.

Unless He Is Born Again was originally published in ‘No Greater Love’ by David Butler (Ward Wood, 2013)

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.