Monday, 30 September 2013

Small Wonder 2013

If you've never been to Small Wonder, the annual short story festival at Charleston in Sussex, here are some tips:

Save up. You'll definitely want to buy at least one book. Where else are there hundreds of amazing short story collections waiting just for you?

Wear woolly socks. The barn is charming, atmospheric, and chilly once the sun drops below the South Downs.

Expect to lie awake when you get home. Your mind will buzz with the stories you've heard, and the ideas that have leapt into your notebook.

Remember your notebook.

In mine, I've written lots of things that I'll keep to myself for now, but also: Alison Moore says that home is often a dangerous place, and that her short stories are about 'little fractures'. Brian Kimberling - who's lived in all sorts of places and is about to head home to Indiana - says that people who don't have mixed feelings about home aren't paying much attention. Deborah Levy says that there are lots of missing pages in the stories we tell about ourselves and they're probably the most interesting. She likes to read Freud and Agatha Christie, especially the stories where the clues are clunky.

The picture, by the way, is from one of the incredibly comfortable Small Wonder sofas. My Mum's next to me, and it's thanks to her and my Dad that I've been going to the festival for years, as they cleverly spotted that it's my perfect birthday present. Thank you!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

On the road

Clients often ask me to visit the people and places I'm writing about, and I love getting to know my subjects face to face, but the travelling has some downsides - in the last few weeks I've drunk a lot of tea in paper cups, left hotels at dawn far too often, and watched numbly as landscapes flash past train windows.

There are new story ideas sizzling gently, but no time to write them, nor this blog. I'll be back!