I’m really excited to have been featured on novelist and short story writer Avril Joy’s website today as part of her ‘Writer’s Rooms’ section. I receive Avril’s weekly newsletter which contains details about writing opportunities and her writing thoughts. It was through reading about Ruby Speechley’s writing space that encouraged me to share my own ‘writing room’ which is just a corner of the living room!
Avril won the 2012 Costa Short Story competition with her fabulously subtle story ‘Millie and Bird’ which is also the title of her well-regarded short story collection.
You can sign up to receive Avril’s newsletter here .
One of my own short stories is now available to read on my ‘Writing’ page. I hope you enjoy it.
It wasn’t intentional – not my plan at all, but after reading about the lack of diversity in YA literature I realised that my novel had “diverse” characters. Malorie Blackman quite rightly highlighted the dismal representation of a whole range of characters in #YA literature recently and I totally agree with her. But I didn’t intentionally set out to write a diverse novel. My characters, an English boy and a Muslim Iraqi girl, came about because of the story. The plot drove the characters into being, not the other way round. So the characters deal with issues that are relevant to them as people, not because of their background necessarily. Having said that, the novel addresses issues such as observing Ramadan, family heritage, history of a people, and others. As a white British female writer I didn’t think Can I get away with writing as a boy or as a Muslim girl?, I just felt I got to know my characters well enough to write them. It wasn’t some calculated mission to include diversity for diversity’s sake, just a happy coincidence. I hope that readers of my book enjoy the story for its own sake rather than thinking I’ve been busy ticking diversity boxes.
If you want to know more about my novel, you can click here
Out now – my first YA novel Akos Novus is now available on Amazon Kindle here
What if there was another planet? A secret planet. Powerful people want to send a genetically superior population to Akos Novus to start a new world. But others believe it is their planet discovered by an ancient astronomer hundreds of years ago. Teenagers Max and Layla discover a web of intrigue and lies and find themselves at the heart of a plot to be the first to re-discover this hidden planet.
Set in modern day London with flashbacks to medieval Baghdad, this novel will challenge the way you think about the world as you know it.
It has taken me a long time to get over the shock of being long listed for the 2015 Bristol Short Story Prize, hence why this post is out so late. Partly it was because I was holding my breath for the short list (which I didn’t make) but mostly because I couldn’t believe my name was on the Long list of this amazing competition. Like so many people I paid my money, sent in my carefully crafted story and then promptly forgot about it. As with most competitions, I enter without expecting to do anything. I keep my spreadsheet up to date with my entries and rejections/unsuccessful stories, with the odd one highlighted with a publication date. This longlisting warranted a full on exclamation mark or three to mark how excited I was!!!
But one of the reasons I was so chuffed was that it meant other people had rated it as a good story, one that gave them reading pleasure – which is why we do this dastardly difficult writing thing, isn’t it? When I’d finished that story I thought it was good – probably my best story to date, but it is gratifying to know that other people thought that too. Although I am disappointed not to have reached the short list it has given me confidence in my writing, knowing I’m ‘on the right lines’ as it were. All I have to do now is write some more!