Tell us a little about yourself – how long have you been writing? Any publications?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I’ve been working more seriously for the last ten years or so to try to produce fiction that has an impact on a reader, as well as being absorbing to write. My first novella, The Lost Art of Sinking, came out with the brilliant poetry publisher Penned in the Margins back in 2015, and was selected for the Read Regional campaign by New Writing North, giving me a fantastic opportunity to connect with readers in libraries across the north of England. I’ve just published my first novel, Sealed, with Dead Ink Books, and I’m continuing to work on short stories, which I’ve always loved writing and reading.
Specifically, tell us a bit more about your longlisted story – the inspiration behind it, the writing of it…
‘Cluster’ was written very recently – I made notes for it in snatched moments in the middle of the night while I was feeding my new-born daughter. I’ve always been a bit of an insomniac, but I was amazed by the things that I heard while I was awake through the night – there was lots of silence, but also lots of unusual noise, human and environmental and animal. These fragments of a hidden nocturnal world made me experience the waking world differently (it began to feel less real than the night time, perhaps also as a result of severe sleep deprivation), and I thought that clusters of sound at night would be an interesting starting point for a short story.
Name three short story writers you especially admire – why?
I love the stories of Elizabeth Bowen – her prose style is deliciously arch and sardonic, and her work still manages to be deeply eerie and emotionally powerful. My two favourite recent short-story collections are Jessie Greengrass’s An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It (for the absolute precision of the prose style and the imaginative range of the stories) and Jenny Zhang’s Sour Heart (for the startling intimacy of the stories and the really distinct, alive voices she develops).
- Naomi Booth’s 2017/18 GBP Short Story Prize longlisted story, ‘Cluster’, is available to read here.