How strange life was. It dragged you this way and that. It raised you to the sky, it cast you into the deepest pit, and sometimes it was difficult to know if you were up or down …
These stories deal progressively with childhood, youth, adulthood and maturity, and focus on themes of desire, sexuality, love and loss in a frank, realistic style with touches of humour. They range from a young man’s urge to re-invent himself to an older man’s coming to terms with the loss of his partner, in settings that extend from Edinburgh to the South of France.
‘To create a believable voice is essential. This means being in control of your fictional narrator’s vocabulary, style, and sensibilities. A great example of this Wimbledon to Wood Green, the competition winner, by Les Brookes. It achieves something very difficult in fiction, which is to sustain a voice without error … One misplaced line could have destroyed Wimbledon to Wood Green, but the writer doesn’t let us down’ – Jim Kelly, judge of the Cambridge Writers’ Short Story Competition 2014.
‘I recently saw some advice from a creative writing tutor that one should never use a therapist in a story. I thought it was pretty bad advice, to be honest, and this short story (In the Chair) shows exactly why. It has great command over what can be done with direct speech and alternating voices; it builds up character steadily but also, more importantly, shows how someone can be restrained and altered by a relationship that has gone wrong – and then how they can move toward healing. A very well-crafted piece of writing’ – Una McCormack, judge of the Cambridge Writers’ Short Story Competition 2020.