Monday, 17 June 2013


A great week last week, where one of my short stories, The Middle Room, was commended as part of Derby Museum’s 1001 objects writing competition.
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It was great to hear the winning entries, and get another chance to look around the exhibit again (with added tea and cake – felt a bit weird, but the mugs were nice so I went with it).
The items are arranged in collections of what they’re made of, rather than their historical or social setting which means you get an interesting mix of momentous and everyday items rubbing shoulders with one another.
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The contest was to write 1001 words based on one of the items – choosing from this amount of inspirational material was not easy (I’d started writing something about the bottles for Derby businesses in my head before I got halfway around the exhibit), but after a long time of looking back at my snapshots, this was the item that stuck.
It’s a Congolese antelope horn, highly valued, and given as a gift.  I wondered about who would normally get such a stunning thing, and who would be least likely to receive it, to get it almost by accident.  About two hours later, The Middle Room was there on the page.
I’m really pleased I took up the challenge, and I’m really pleased Derby Museums has taken such an interesting approach to showing us the things we collect in the ongoing story of who we are.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


This week, Appletree Writers are getting ready to publish an anthology to raise funds for the Dunbar RNLI, with stories based around the theme of ‘The Harbour’ – and one of them is mine. 

‘Captain’ began life as SAM_1580a family story (one of the legends re-told and re-argued at Christmas), which began to change as I began to retell it.  I don’t know how – the true story is vivid, and funny, but the story I had to tell took another direction.

By the time I’d edited it, I was somewhere else entirely.  Off the map, in open water.  I had no idea whether anyone else would connect with it, but I knew the only way to find out was to submit it – and I’m really pleased they did. 

I’ve learned a valuable lesson from writing this little story – begin writing what you know, and when your story begins to have other plans, follow them.  Leave the harbour, and see where the story takes you. 

If you'd like to read it for yourself, The Harbour is available to order from the Appletree Writers website.