Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize Win: The Highlight of My Month

2015-5-14 Lucy Cavendish Prize, Emily with Janet Todd
With Professor Janet Todd, President of Lucy Cavendish College (Copyright: Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge)

In what has been a very busy month, writing-wise, it was an absolute treat to attend the dinner for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2015 on 14 May – and a huge surprise to win!

Having enjoyed reading their novel extracts so much, it was great to meet the four other writers shortlisted for the prize (Tracy Kuhn, Amy Spencer, Sonia Velton and Rebecca Welshman), the prize judges who were able to attend that evening (literary agent Nelle Andrew and bestselling author Allison Pearson), as well as Professor Janet Todd, president of Lucy Cavendish College.

An added delight was having the chance to share all this with my close friend and Something Rhymed collaborator Emma Claire Sweeney. Emma and I have been supporting each other’s ‘writing journeys’ for well over a decade now, and she has seen me through so many ups and downs. So this made her the obvious person to ask along as my guest for the evening. Having Emma there to celebrate with me made the whole experience extra special.

2015-5-14 Lucy Cavendish Prize, Emily with Emma
With Emma – thanks to all the help she’s given me along the way, it felt like a joint-achievement. (Copyright: Lucy Cavendish College)

 

Writing on the Wall festival, the Yorkshire Post and more on Something Rhymed

I’m delighted to announce that I will be reading an extract of my as-yet-unpublished first novel A Tiny Speck of Black and then Nothing at the Writing on the Wall festival in Liverpool on Wednesday 14 May.

As a former third prize winner of the SI Leeds Literary Prize, I’ll be taking part in an event at Siren Café headlined by Helen Walsh, author of gripping new novel The Lemon Grove. My book A Tiny Speck of Black and then Nothing also won third prize in the Yeovil Literary Prize and was long-listed for the Mslexia Novel Competition.

Me reading my work at the SI Leeds Literary Prize ceremony
Me reading my work at the SI Leeds Literary Prize ceremony

In other writing news, the Yorkshire Post recently featured an article on Something Rhymed, the literary website I run with Emma Claire Sweeney. Throughout 2014, Emma Claire and I are profiling the writing friendships of well-known female authors, and this month we’re turning the spotlight on Emily Dickinson and Helen Hunt Jackson.

We’re still actively looking for more literary pals to consider for the site, so please keep letting us know your thoughts by Tweeting us, or contacting us via somethingrhymed.com.

Two more bits of news: long-listed for Mslexia Novel Competition and publication of my Tangled Roots memoir

An email arrived in my inbox on Tuesday afternoon bearing the wonderful news that my first novel A Tiny Speck of Black and then Nothing is on the long-list for the Mslexia Novel Competition.

Then on Friday I received another very welcome message, this time from the writer Katy Massey, to let me know that my memoir about being brought up in a mixed English and Japanese household in York has been published on her Tangled Roots website. The same piece should appear in book form some time in early 2014.

I’ve blogged about Tangled Roots before here. One of the things that I’ve most enjoyed about this project has been meeting the other featured writers, and having the chance to read their stories and poems about their own experiences of a being part of multiracial families in Yorkshire. I strongly recommend that you take a look at their work.

A good week: third place in Yeovil Literary Prize and launch of the Tangled Roots project

Having had to keep it quiet until now, it’s good to be able to start letting people know that my novel A Tiny Speck of Black and then Nothing has taken third place in the Yeovil Literary Prize, judged by Tracy Chevalier.

I’ve long been an admirer of Chevalier’s prose and her writerly eye for detail, and so her kind comments about the book make the experience extra special. You can read her words about all the novel prize winners, and find out more about the prize, here.

Another pleasure this week was being able to attend the launch night of Tangled Roots, a project documenting the experiences of multi-racial families from Yorkshire. I’ve blogged about it before here. There are currently seven writers involved with the project, set up by Katy Massey, and photos of six of us will be displayed at Seven in Leeds until the middle of October.

If you can’t make it to the exhibition, you can view the images, taken by photographer Anthony Farrimond, on the Tangled Roots website. There’s lots more information about the project there too.

Just Back travel piece in the Telegraph

As some friends already know, my partner and I have recently returned from a motorcycle tour of Spain (with him doing the driving, me sitting on the back).

We saw all sorts of amazing sights: a school of jumping dolphins on the ferry crossing out and a whale on the return journey, a meteor shower on a cold mountain night, a magnificent sunset at mainland Europe’s southernmost point.

But one of the experiences I think we’ll look back on the most is a day we spent at a small motorcycle garage on the outskirts of Granada. I’ve written up what happened in this article, which won this week’s Just Back competition in the Daily Telegraph. This is my first piece of travel writing, so I’m really glad they chose it.

Early on in our travels, when the bike was still running perfectly...
Early on in our travels, when the bike was still running perfectly…

Showcase and Yeovil Literary Prize short-listing

It’s been a busy couple of months since I last posted any news on this blog. Two recent pleasures for me were being involved with the New Writing Showcase by Novel Studio students at City University London, and making the shortlist for the Yeovil Literary Prize, judged this year by Tracy Chevalier.

Whilst I’m used to reading my own work in public, I’d never compered a readings event before the Novel Studio showcase, but I was helped by the fact that the students’ work was of such a good standard. The audience of family, friends and industry professionals all seemed to really enjoy the evening.

As for the short-listing – in the novel category, with my first book A Tiny Speck of Black and then Nothing – I’m obviously thrilled. I look forward to finding out the final results when they are announced.

For Books’ Sake interview

There are interviews with all the winning writers of the SI Leeds Literary Prize on the For Books’ Sake website: a great source of information about “Books By and For Independent Women”.

The website has lots of other really interesting feature articles as well as information about fiction and non-fiction books and writing-related events. I highly recommend it.

SI Leeds Literary Prize award evening

I’ve just returned home after a lovely twenty-four hours when I travelled down by train to the Ilkley Literature Festival with my good friend Sarah. I’ve known Sarah for years and having her there to accompany me to the inaugural SI Leeds Literary Prize award evening helped make the experience even more special.

Bonnie Greer and Margaret Busby opened the evening at the Ilkey Playhouse with a fascinating talk about their own personal histories as writers and some reflections on the publishing world of today and the spaces that Black and Asian writers occupy within it.

Then the prizes were announced, with Minoli Salgado being awarded the winner’s trophy, followed by Karen Onojaife in second place, and Jane Steele and I in joint third.

A high point of the evening for me was being able to hear the other winning writers reading their work aloud. I hope to hear lots more from them and the other shortlisted writers, Katy Massey and Anita Sivakumaran, in the future.

Short-listed for SI Leeds Literary Prize

An update on the SI Leeds Literary Prize: I found out yesterday that my novel A Tiny Speck of Black and then Nothing has now made the short-list of six! I’m really looking forward to the award ceremony on 3 October at the Ilkley Literature Festival, and to meeting the other finalists, organisers and judges.

If you want to know more, further information can be found in the blog post below and also on the prize website.

Many thanks to everyone who has been in touch – your support is very much appreciated.

Long-listed for SI Leeds Literary Prize

Although I had an idea that an announcement would be coming up, the phone call from Soroptimist International took me completely by surprise. I was delighted to learn that my novel A Tiny Speck of Black and then Nothing had made it into the final twelve manuscripts for the 2012 SI Leeds Prize.

The prize is a new award for unpublished fiction by Black and Asian women resident in the UK, and an initiative of Soroptimist International of Leeds working in partnership with Ilkley Literature Festival and Peepal Tree Press.

I’m so pleased to have been selected along with the other eleven writers, and I look forward to seeing who goes through to the shortlist.

A Tiny Speck of Black and then Nothing, set in the Japanese city of Ōsaka, draws on my experience of living and working in that country, as well as my own mixed heritage. The stories my late mother used to tell me have been a particular inspiration. If you are interested, you can find out more about my novel by visiting the Writing page of this website.