Story of the Month, January 2023

We're back with a new series of original short stories online. Don't worry, the reprints are still there somewhere on the menu too. And what better way to start the year than with a tale of young people in a northern town, somewhere near the sea and the eternal question about staying or leaving. Ed.

The Willesden Herald Story of the Month

January 2023: This One-Trick Town by Amanda Huggins

“There was a far-off shimmer to the north, and Da told her it was the glow of Newcastle, luring the unwary with her swagger and shine. Annie knew he’d made it up, that you wouldn’t be able to see the city lights from so far away, but she went along with it unquestioningly, as though she believed every word. ”

Amanda Huggins

Amanda Huggins is the author of the novellas Crossing the Lines and All Our Squandered Beauty as well as several collections of short stories and poetry. Her work has also appeared in a wide range of journals and newspapers and on BBC Radio. She has won numerous awards, including three Saboteur Awards, the BGTW New Travel Writer of the Year, and the Colm Tóibín and H E Bates short story prizes. She was also a runner-up in the Costa Short Story Award and the Fish Short Story Prize, and has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and many others.

Story of the Month, February 2022

Greetings to our friends in Ukraine and also in Russia. Here's a wish that your differences may be settled by diplomacy and not more war. I have to say something constructive when I'm about to share with you a short story in which a young woman asks, "Have the Russians won everything yet?" Ed. 

The Willesden Herald Story of the Month

February 2022: Triple Axel by Yelena Furman

“In the Soviet Union, with its ritual of daily obstacles and anti-Semitism, the U.S. had seemed a haven, a far-away hope of her life’s opposite. She was young when the exodus of Jewish refugees, as they were officially called, started in the 1970s, mostly to North America and Israel. Suddenly, everyone knew someone, or was someone, who was leaving. Her mother’s coworker. Her father’s cousin. The girl who sat behind her in school.”

Yelena Furman

Yelena Furman lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches Russian literature. Her fiction has previously appeared in Narrative.

Story of the Month, January 2022

We're delighted to welcome the author of one of our first stories of the month back to these pages. In a tweet, M.E. Proctor describes her latest as a slightly nostalgic, slightly magical story and invites you to have a read friends and listen to the "Boardwalk Oracle."

The Willesden Herald Story of the Month

January 2022: Boardwalk Oracle by M. E. Proctor

…Even in the fading light of the day that concealed the worst scars of decrepitude, the seediness of the place could not be ignored. Many shops were boarded up and metal curtains were down on those that weren’t. The coin-operated machines were battered, nicked and banged metal, flaked-off paint. Relics from the early age of automation...

M.E. Proctor

M.E. Proctor lives in Livingston, Texas. After forays into SF (The Savage Crown Series), she’s working on a series of contemporary detective novels. Her short stories have been published in Bristol Noir, The Bookends Review, Beat to a Pulp, All Worlds Wayfarer, Shotgun Honey and others. On Twitter: @MEProctor3

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

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 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, 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.

Story of the Month, December 2018

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

December 2018: Mackerel Point by Richard Lakin

Brenda stood at the top of the stairs.
‘He’s missed us then,’ Colin said.
‘He’ll be back.’ Her role, as always, was to deal with reality, to face up to truth. One of them had too.
‘There’s nothing for us then, love. What did I tell you?’
Brenda gripped the banister and sighed.

Richard Lakin

Richard Lakin studied chemistry and has worked as a labourer, a journalist, and a policeman on the London Underground. He has published short stories in journals including Londonist, Structo and The Oxonian Review. He has won the Guardian family travel writing prize and Daily Telegraph’s Just Back, travel piece of the year. He lives in Staffordshire and blogs at www.richlakin.wordpress.com

Story of the Month, November 2018

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

November 2018: That New Girl by Brian Kirk

‘Well, what’s she like then?’ I asked again.
She ignored me as she tipped soy sauce into a clean bowl. I turned and stood like a fool with my hands by my sides looking out the front window where I could see the tops of some trees across the street. Our apartment is on the third floor and, even though we’ve been here for over a year, I’m still not used to living above ground level.
Eventually Sara finished juicing a lime and mixing it into the sauce. She turned to me then.

Brian Kirk

Brian Kirk is a poet and short story writer from Dublin. He was shortlisted twice for Hennessy Awards for fiction. His first poetry collection “After The Fall” was published by Salmon Poetry in November 2017. Recent stories have appeared in The Lonely Crowd Issue 7 and online at Fictive Dream and Cold Coffee Stand. His story “Festival” was long-listed for the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize 2017/8. He blogs at www.briankirkwriter.com.

Story of the Month, October 2018

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

October 2018: Everything Comes Together by Frank Haberle

“In your trailer, it’s colder and darker than outside. You pull the wad of bills out and smooth them out in your frozen red palms. There’s a twenty, a ten, and eight singles. For one flashing moment you think of your rent, now ten days late. Then you get up and start walking back to town.”

Frank Haberle

Frank Haberle’s short stories have won the 2011 Pen Parentis Award, the 2013 Sustainable Arts Foundation Award, and the 2017 Beautiful Losers Magazine Award. They have appeared in magazines including the Stockholm Literary Review, Inwood Indiana, Necessary Fiction, the Adirondack Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Melic Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, Cantaraville and Hot Metal Press. A professional grantwriter with nonprofit organizations, Frank is also a volunteer workshop leader for the NY Writers Coalition. He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and three children.

Story of the Month, September 2018

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

September 2018: The Almost-Widow by Carina Buckley

“If I had known, then, that a dull night’s companionable reading would prove on reflection to be a moment of perfect bliss, it’s hard to say what I would have done. Is the horror past or present? All I know is that right now, today, I am greedy for those days, and all the ones I had are not enough. It was their timelessness that made them worth having.”

Carina Buckley

Carina Buckley grew up in Margate, Kent, and now lives in Salisbury. She works in higher education and has recently completed her first novel, THE TRANSPARENCY OF WATER. She is working on a collection of short stories as well as a full-length play, SINCE I LAST SAW MY SISTER. She has had two short plays performed at the Salisbury Fringe festival.