Nobody likes a show off!

I received my prize for winning the Bookseller’s Bursary yesterday. Wow, what a parcel! Champagne, a trophy, £’s, an Arvon gift certificate, a winner’s certificate, an Arvon Moleskine notebook. Superb. I am chuffed to bits. And I wasn’t going to say anything, because y’know, it doesn’t do to show off. Then I thought, oh hang on a minute, I’m quick enough to share things that make me miserable.

So –

It’s funny, I have an uncomfortable feeling of wanting to tell people that I have had some good news, mixing with huge embarrassment. I didn’t tell many that I was on the short list, I wasn’t going to mention it in fact. So when I won I had this conversation with my mum and a few others. “Oh, erm, there was this thing…” mumble, mumble. I was squirming, not sure why. Haven’t heard a word from my dad (who lives with my mum) and when we spoke on the phone he didn’t mention it. Both my brother’s are on facebook but they haven’t mentioned it either. My husband is pleased but hasn’t read a thing I’ve written for years. Anyway, I decided to brave this out and announce publicly that this is quite the nicest thing that has happened to me in ages.

I am thrilled with my prize. Thank you to Waterstone’s for being so incredibly supportive of the many writers it employs, and thank you to the judges from Simon & Schuster, Arvon and United Agents. I’ll shut up now and hope you can forgive the showing off.

Itching and winning!

Waterstone’s ran a writing competition for a Bookseller’s Bursary with a cash prize, a place on an Arvon course, paid leave to attend the course and a trophy . I was shortlisted and invited to a “do” for the announcement of the two winners. Sadly I developed Urticaria and had to spend the morning in A&E instead of going to London as planned. Apparently I have had a massive allergic reaction to something and am now on steroids and antihistamine tablets. I feel very sorry for myself, and am ITCHY beyond belief. I am literally smothered by these gruesome lumps.

I came home from hospital feeling very glum, and then received the news that I had won!

I think it’s fantastic that Waterstone’s is supporting the many budding writers that are drawn to working in its stores. This is a superb prize, and I am chuffed to bits. It’s going to be a real pleasure choosing a course to attend and I’m hoping it’ll help me get my novel whipped into shape.

So, boo to rashes and illness, but a massive yay to Waterstone’s and Arvon.

"My" short story display case!

I thought it’d be cool to show you a recent photo from the short story display case at work. There seems to have been a sudden flurry of very good short story collections being published. Hurray!

Starting from the top we have Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie “The Thing Around Your Neck”, “Midsummer Nights” edited by Jeanette Winterson, and James Lasdun “It’s Beginning to Hurt”(which looks excellent, though I haven’t read it yet.)

First shelf we have Tania Hershman’s “The White Road and other stories”. Tania was recently commended by the Chair of Judges of the Orange Award for New Writers who said “(her) work stood out for its remarkable quality. We look forward to seeing more of (her) writing in the future.”, then a really interesting anthology called “Punk Fiction” which features stories from a diverse range of people who were inspired by punk – amongst them Billy Bragg and Billy Childish, Kate Pullinger and Lane Ashfeldt. Next there is “An Elegy for Easterly” by Petina Gappah. You can read Vanessa Gebbie’s review of the book in this months Pulp Net. Also there is Wells Tower’s much written about/hyped collection “Everything Ravaged, everything Burned”

Second shelf features Eliazabeth Baines “Balancing on the Edge of the World”, Sylvia Plath’s “Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams” which sells well when in a prominent place. Perhaps people think Plath = poetry and The Bell Jar (incidentally, there is a new edition of The Bell Jar from Faber, it’s part of their 80th celebration, and I had to buy it just because it is so gorgeous. All of the Faber 80’s covers are scrummy.) Janice Galloway’s superb “Where You Find It” and “The Book of Other People”

The third shelf has “Let’s Call the Whole thing off: Love quarrels from Anton Chekov to ZZ Packer” – and includes a tiny piece from a writer I adore – Frances Gapper, as well as Ali Smith, Jackie Kay and Dorothy Parker, then deliciously quirky “No One Belongs Here More Than You” by Miranda July, “In Bed With…” full of anonymous sexy stories by well known authors including Ali Smith, Stella Duffy, Fay Weldon and Emma Darwin, and “The Pleasant Light of Day” by Phillip O’Ceallaigh.

The last shelf is rather cool, with “Everyday” by Lee Rourke, “The Loudest Sound and Nothing” by Clare Wigfall, “One World – a Global anthology” which I blogged about here, and Four Letter Word, which if I’m honest is the only thing not picked by me and has been replaced by
Lorrie Moore’s “Collected Stories” (a must) which is now available in paperback.

Phew – I have link fatigue.

blah to the max

I feel blah.

I feel a little as if I want to hibernate and not mix with people, and not sub work, and not talk much, and not put myself “out there” for a while. I think it would be good to settle on the sofa and read some absorbing books. I would like to not worry about deadlines and writing the novel. I bought wii fit on Friday, i’d like to read, and write for pleasure (not to deadlines or for subbing,) and go on the wii fit, and talk to my lovely boys.

I’m on the Waterstone’s New Voices committee or whatever they call it, and I got sent a bunch of books today. I looked them over and it seems I got a couple of cool ones. Last year I think I must have got the dregs because there was nothing I liked at all.

I miss Matt.
So much.

If you go on wikipedia there’s a section of “recent deaths”. I started scouring the ages of people who died this month, looking at their ages, hoping everyone was way older than me.

Things I wish I had said to Janice Galloway –

1) Anything sensible rather than the breathless, gushy nonsense I babbled at her!

(Ha ha)

Okay, I was a little nervous. The more I thought about it the more I realised that of my revered three (Galloway, Lorrie Moore, Ali Smith) Galloway is the writer who I have respected, admired, and aspired to, for the longest, with an unwavering belief that she really does write the best prose of anyone. She is concise, precise, smart, never sentimental, never baggy or saggy. So, y’know, she rocks. And I honestly get a kick out of recommending her books to others, so that they get to read writing of such quality. It occurred to me that I could meet her and dislike her. It happens right? Your hero up there on a pedestal turns out to be an utter arse. I wondered (because I am the type of person to waste time fretting about things that have not yet happened) if I would still heartily recommend her books. I figured I would, because the writing is what counts, not the person.

Didn’t need to worry at all, she was lovely, and very kind to me. She even gifted me a copy of “Rosengarten” which I am delighted by. She looked amazing, read beautifully, answered questions, and asked a couple herself. She was funny and warm, and the extracts she read from “This is not about me” sounded fabulous. I’m very much looking forward to getting stuck into it.


Ooh, Janice Galloway!

Regular readers will know that I’m a massive fan of Janice Galloway. She is such an amazing writer, and forms one part of the writers-I-aspire-to-and-worship-and-sadly-will-never-be-as-good-as-but-oh-how-they-make-me-hope-trio (Lorrie Moore and Ali Smith are the other two). So I was very excited to hear that she has a memoir coming out in September. A new Galloway publication is cause for happy feelings. BUT GUESS WHAT?

Go on, guess?

We have arranged for her to come to the Brighton branch of Waterstones!
Whooooo hoooooo.

Talk & Signing
Janice Galloway
This is Not About Me
Tuesday, 23 September 2008, 7:00PM – 8:00PM
Tickets £3, redeemable against purchase of the book on the night.
The critically acclaimed author of, ‘Where You Find It’ will be in-store to talk about and sign copies of her new auto-biography ‘This Is Not About Me’.
Further details: 01273 206017

I so want this event to be a success, and urge any people in the area to buy a ticket now!

Isn’t it exciting!

By the way, back here I mentioned that I had ordered in copies of Galloway’s short story collection “Where you find it”, and written a review. I was pleased that we had sold 12 copies. We have sold 29 copies now!