Like any form of literature, when short stories are done well, they can be absolutely divine – they’re an integral part of the fiction portfolio and they’re storming the book shelves of all the good book shops and their writers are getting ever higher profiles.
I have long a particular fondness for the short story with Roald Dahl being a staple of my early years…I will never forget the story in one of his collections where the protagonist, Billy, ends up in a B&B in Bath faced with the very real prospect of becoming a stuffed piece of furniture.
The festival was directed by a friend of mine, Paul McVeigh, who himself is a very talented man with his stories appearing on BBC Radio 4 and he recently performed at the night that I run, Listen Softly London (obviously he was far more excited about the latter).
Held at Waterstones in Piccadilly, it was a case of many worlds colliding as writers, editors, book lovers and a man with a doll listened to stories, shared experiences and asked questions. There were, over the weekend, a range of free and paid for events and I can’t compliment the festival enough for reaching out as far and as wide as possible to ensure that people of all backgrounds felt that the event was accessible.
A highlight of the festival for me was seeing Maia Jenkins, winner of GQ Norman Mailer Student Writing Prize, read one of her stories and meeting Dan Coxon editor of the fantastic Litro magazine for good chats over wine and crisps. There were also some moving pieces of work read in Speakers Corner, where for absolutely nothing you got to hear some fine authors read their work, and a highlight of this for me was hearing from English Pen and their latest book which is an anthology of work written by prisoners during their creative writing classes.
The weekend intoxicated me with words and I can’t wait for next year’s festival to come around. I’ve already submitted one short story to a magazine off the back of inspiration I found in a Litro magazine workshop, and I’ve been scribbling down more ideas.
Maybe one day I’ll write something over a page long…
Big applause to those who backed the event – Waterstones, London Irish Centre, Salt, Litro and Popshot magazine!