I'm always excited when the week comes around for my annual pilgrimage to Swanwick Writers' Summer School. But this year was extra-exciting because I'd won 2nd Prize in the annual Short Story Contest.
As regular readers of my blog will know, this story was about 19th century abolitionist and showman Henry "Box" Brown, about whom I read in David Olusoga's magnificent book Black and British: A Forgotten History. And, oh yes, I might have mentioned once or twice that I met David at Bradford Lit Fest and told him all about it. I don't think I will ever get sick of this photo:
I was a little disappointed that only 1st prize winners got a reserved slot in the Prose Open Mic, meaning that, while I did get to read my story, my 5 minutes ran out before I reached the closing line, "Henry Brown will never escape the box," and I was so late in the programme that most people had left for the bar/Wild West Disco. However, it was enjoyed by the faithful few.
I must add that I carried the rather heavy framed certificate home in a box.
What I didn't expect was that I would become the runner and prizegiver of my own competition. During the journey to Swanwick, I decided to set a fun quiz for people bored on trains/buses. Could anyone name the children's novel that provided the name for our cat, Sootica? When no one came forward with an answer, I decided to raise the stakes by offering a real prize instead of a 🎁 virtual sticker. To wit: a review copy of my ebook short story collection, Tales from the Hidden Grove. The winner was Helen Ellwood, who named the answer as Gobbolino the Witch's Cat by Ursula Moray Williams. Helen she has agreed to give me a review of my book when she's read it. And possibly of Gobbolino, too?!
Winners all round, then?