Friday, 16 November 2012

Short stories Carys Bray article @Strictly Writing Awards

Whatever happened to the Stricly Writing Award Winner? Carys Bray returns to tell us all!

I wanted to be a writer when I was a little girl, but I married young, had several children in quick succession . I started writing again as soon as my children were at school. I did a writing module during my Literature degree with the Open University and then I decided to do a Creative Writing MA.

My collection, Sweet Home, is full of stories about family and the things that go right, and wrong, when people live together. Some of the stories are sad, some are funny and some are best described as fairy tales. 

Lancashire Writing Hub guest editor Sarah Schofield reviewed Carys Bray’s Salt Scott Prize winning short story collection Sweet Home here: she says "...The collection is titled after the third story in the book. This decision is well measured. ‘Sweet Home’ is an updated twist on Hansel and Gretel. Playing on the original narrative, it highlights discrimination, racism and small community gossip. Refering to the foreign woman’s gingerbread home, one zenophobic character states: “She should have used an English recipe… Victoria sponge… You can’t get more English than that.” It seems more than appropriate that the Hansel and Gretel narrative, so ingrained in family life and read to generations of children, should have a re-evaluation and hold an important place in this collection. Challenging established expectations of what ‘family’ looks like...."

I get inspiration from everyday things. A couple of the stories are set in shops; one in a surreal store where people can buy children, and another in a midnight supermarket during the rescue of a group of Chilean miners. I read a lot of parenting books when my children were small and, over time, I developed a hatred of them. The opening story in the collection deals with that hatred - it is interrupted by ‘helpful’ quotes from fictional parenting books. I really like fairy tales and I think they have fuelled my love for short stories where impossible things happen. In one of my stories an old lady builds a gingerbread house and in another a carpenter sculpts a baby out of ice.

I like to read stories that are funny and sad, probably because real life is often both of those things. I like beautiful language and I also like to be surprised.
I’m still writing short stories, although at the moment I’m mostly concentrating on a PhD and novel.

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