Sunday, 31 October 2010

A Bit Fishy

Oddly, a lot of my recent stories have a fish in them. I have no idea why. My middle daughter is sketching a lot of fish for her GCSE art coursework. I think we must have cast our nets into the same pond. She's drawing them and I'm writing about them. I had to buy her a fresh sea-bream, which she dissected all over the kitchen table, and then drew it. The remains are now in the freezer in case she needs to capture it again. When my youngest daughter sat down for tea, I heard a cry of "OMG, there are fish guts all over the table!"

I had a new idea for a story while I was cooking today's dinner and, believe it or not, there is a fish-theme again. So I think I might put them all into a collection at some point. I like the idea of a group of stories with a link. I have always wanted to extract a character out of one story into the next, and then yet another from that one, so there is cohesion, but without one story being dependent on another. That could be my next move before I try writing a novel in the New Year.

I'm so pleased that 50 Stories For Pakistan is on sale now. All the money goes to help the victims of the floods and is available from

I'm also very pleased to be in the shortlist for the Bridport Prize. I was in the final one hundred out of 6,000 entries. So I'm quite pleased. I didn't get placed in the top thirteen who won prizes (congratulations to all those writers), but that story can now travel with confidence to a new destination. And there were no fish in that one.


  1. Big congrats for being in the Bridport shortlist! I think of entering Bridport every year, but so far I just haven't had a story I felt was the right one to send in.

    I also find fish quite appealing, especially if I see them on pottery. Is that your daughter's sketch? It's fantastic.

    A fish-themed story collection is a great idea. I like story collections that feature the same characters at different stages of their lives. It's almost a halfway point between a story collection and a novel. At the moment I am enjoying Amy Bloom's collection 'Where the God of Love Hangs Out'. Several of those stories have the same characters in. I also remember Alice Munro's 'Runaway', again featuring one central character who keeps popping up throughout the book.

  2. Congratulations on being shortlisted for the Bridport. To be in the final 100 out of 6,000 entries is impressive.

    I too like the idea of a themed story collection.

  3. Well done on the Bridport shortlisting. Maybe the Fish theme is telling you where to send it next...

  4. That's fantastic to be shortlisted out of so many for the Bridport, Joanna. Love the fish image.

  5. Thank you everyone for your lovely, kind comments.

    It is my daughter's sketch, Joanne, and she is very chuffed that it has been admired. I like Alice Munro, but I haven't read Runaway, so that is definitely going on my wishlist. The Amy Bloom collection sounds fantastic and I'll get that too.

    I think you have a good point, Bernadette! I was wondering if I had something to send there! That would be a good plaice!!

    Many thanks, Christine and Rosemary. I was surprised and pleased to get that far. I might give it another go for 2011 as well. But, as Joanne says, it can be hard to decide on just the right story to send.

  6. I like the idea of moving characters on from one story to the next. The notion of having a background character in one story who is developed and becomes the main protagonist in a later one is fascinating. The TV drama series The Street did something along those lines.
    Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

  7. Arriving unfashionably late, but huge congratulations on being shortlisted for the Bridport Prize.


  8. Many thanks,Suzanne, that's very kind. I hope you and your daughter are coping after your very sad loss.