Christmas Hat Trick for Angela!

If you read any of the Women's magazines (or 'Womags' as they're know in the trade), there's a good chance that you'll have read a story by Exeter Writer, Angela Wooldridge.

 
Angela has two Christmas stories in different issues of My Weekly. The most recent, in a 'Christmas Special' edition, is one of twelve specially commissioned stories based on each line of The Twelve Days of Christmas.



Angela also has another Christmas story due out in The People's Friend, later in December.

Angela says; "The funny thing is that they make me think of swimming pools now, as I wrote them while on holiday in August!"

Continuing the festive theme, Angela is taking part in the Indie Authors Advent Calendar. Each day of Advent, as you click on a window, you can read a short 'flash' story. Then, on Christmas Day, you receive all the stories bundled together as an e-book. (And it's free!)

Winners' profiles: Christopher Allen

Now that the 2018 Exeter Writers Short Story competition is open for entries, we thought we'd get you chomping at the bit with a series of blog posts around story craft. 

Today we're profiling last year's 3rd prize winner, Christopher Allen, whose story 'Fences' can be read here.





Hello, Christopher! Thank you for letting us profile you. Tell us, what do you write?

A lot of my stories are flash fiction. My debut collection of flash fiction, Other Household Toxins, is coming out later this year from Matter Press. In terms of style, I write literary fiction leaning often towards magic realism, surrealism, and absurdism. But I also write realistic stories and travel articles. I blog at www.imustbeoff.com where I sponsor an annual travel writing competition.


When and where do you write?

I used to write better in the early morning hours – 4:00-7:00 – but that’s changing. I often write late at night now or on the train. Sometimes if I have a few hours in the middle of the day, I’ll sit in a coffee shop and write until I drift off to sleep. My handwriting is horrible, so I write best when I have a keyboard.


Best writerly moment?

When a sentence clicks and feels perfect, when I get the rhythm just right, when a story punches me in the gut and I love what I’ve done regardless of who else does – that’s a great moment.


How did you come up with the idea for your winning story?

Difficult question. I suppose it was when someone told me that most of the Indian restaurants in London were run by Bangladeshis, but I’m not sure I thought of writing the story that ultimately developed then. The story “Fences” developed over a period of three or four years.


Not a lot of people know this...

Unfortunately, I’ve kept very few secrets. Quite a few people know quite a lot about me. I used to be a singer. But I’m from Nashville where everyone’s a singer.


Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?

Yes, Virginia Woolf. In graduate school, I read almost everything she wrote. She changed the way I thought about the cadence and emotional impact of my own writing. Of course there have been lots of other writers who’ve made me reconsider how I write, but Woolf was the first who made me think I could write.


What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

There is so much advice out there. Maybe the best is not to make your characters’ lives easy. Keep the level of conflict and tension high as long as you can before resolving it. I think that’s good advice. In terms of very short prose, I think the best advice has been to begin as close to the major conflict as possible (avoid excessive scene-setting) and give the reader a satisfying ending that does not try to tie up the story neatly.

If I were giving advice, I would say write the story that’s important to you. If you’re writing just to satisfy the need to craft a clever narrative, it will probably leave the reader cold. Once the reader sees you trying too hard, it’s all over. Colin Winnette is one of my favourite writers because he manages to create memorable, original narratives with bold, simple language – like a gymnast who makes that quadruple backflip look effortless.


Give us a few last lines about yourself.

I’m on the editing team at SmokeLong Quarterly, an online journal devoted to flash fiction. This year I’m also a consulting editor for The Best Small Fictions.

As I mentioned up there at the beginning, my debut flash fiction collection, Other Household Toxins (Matter Press), may already have been published by the time this interview comes out. I’m super excited about it and can’t wait to share it with the world.

On July 21-22, 2018 I’ll be conducting a workshop at the Bath Flash Fiction Festival held in Bristol this time. I hope to see some Exeter folks there.  


Thank you, Christopher!

Winners' profiles: Sharon Boyle

Now that the 2018 Exeter Writers Short Story competition is open for entries, we thought we'd get you chomping at the bit with a series of blog posts around story craft. Today we're profiling last year's first prize winner Sharon Boyle, whose story 'Celluloid Job' can be viewed here.





Hi Sharon! Thank you for letting us profile you. Tell us, what do you write?

Short stories, flash and the occasional poem. I have two finished YA novels in a drawer which when written were destined for Kindle but when recently reread were demoted to kindling. 

When and where do you write?

When not working or involved in family life, I write at the dining room table surrounded by washing, homework and other mess. The dining room is a thoroughfare to the kitchen so I am bothered by other folks’ chitchat - a lot. O, for a heated shed.

Best writerly moment?

Winning the Exeter Writers Short Story comp, of course! Apart from the kudos it is my most lucrative win. 

How did you come up with the idea for your winning story?

My nana (93 and still going strong) loves watching B&W films and tells ‘during the war’ stories on a loop. (She never drove a tank but she did dance with dashing Americans.) I like injecting a bit of quirkiness or humour into a story and Stanley came naturally as a stooge to Mrs Dewhurst.

Not a lot of people know this...

My first dream job was not to be a writer but an astronaut. I told my secondary school guidance teacher of my plans and, after completing a questionnaire, left his office with a piece of paper suggesting chiropody. 

Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?

CS Lewis. I adored the Narnia series as a child, especially The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and wanted to write a stonking set of books like that. I’ve always had the romantic notion of sitting at a desk overlooking an enviable view, sipping wine and gently tapping out a novel that needs no revision or editing. That fairy-tale bubble burst in the first year of serious scribblings.

What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

To have a few writing projects on the go at once.  That way, if I get temporarily frustrated/blocked/fed up with one project I switch to another.

Give us a few last lines about yourself. 

I’m very reticent on the self-promoting front, a mix of laziness and cluelessness, and have only just started a blog (really, there are just four posts). It can be found at:

Thank you, Sharon!