Friday, 25 September 2020

A Snowfall of Silver review


Thank you to Scholastic for the gifted copy!

A snow-dusted love story. In the Autumn of 1931, eighteen-year-old Freya Trevelyan runs away from her home in Cornwall to follow her dream of becoming an actress. When she is invited to join a theatrical company about to head out on tour, Freya thinks the path to success is clear, and, amidst all the glamour and bustle of stage life, she finds - for the first time - a place to belong. But can reality ever live up to her expectations? What if her life - and falling in love - turn out to be nothing like she planned? An enchanting coming of age romance about following your dreams - even when they aren't quite what you expected.

Laura Wood is one of my favourite authors and A Snowfall of Silver is an absolutely gorgeous romance set against a backdrop of wintry weather and the theatre.

I thought I couldn't love characters as much as the ones in A Sky Painted Gold. Not only do a few of my faves turn up (hello, Robert), but I also really enjoyed meeting the characters in A Snowfall of Silver. Freya is so much fun! Her dramatic nature and craving to follow her dreams are irresistible and entertaining. There's also a likeable cast of secondary characters and I definitely took a shine to Kit. Laura Wood creates the best book boys!

The setting of this book is so evocative of winter, with cosy snowed-in scenes and invigorating wintry walks. The descriptions are deliciously sensory and the food scenes made me very, very hungry. 

This is one of those books that is full of so much happiness, as well as dealing with thought-provoking subjects. The combination of the theatrical setting and a girl chasing her dreams make this an uplifting read.

A Snowfall of Silver is a beautifully written historical romance that is a perfect read for snuggling up on a wintry evening (or any time). I can already see myself rereading this every year.

If you liked the sound of this, try Laura Wood's other books or Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

BBC Young Writers' Award 2020 shortlist

I've been an ambassador for the Young Writers' Award for three years and once again there is an incredible shortlist, with varied themes including care homes, disability and immigration. I'm delighted to announce the shortlist. Congratulations everyone!

The 2020 BBC Young Writers’ Award shortlist is:

  • ‘Winds that Travel Across’ by Maleeha Faruki, 18, from Leicester
  • ‘Three Pomegranate Seeds’ by Mei Kawagoe, 15, from Leicestershire
  • ‘Bingo Tuesdays’ by Ben Marshall, 18, from Otford, Kent
  • ‘The Changeling’ by Lottie Mills, 18, from Stevenage, Hertfordshire
  • ‘The Battle of Trafalgar Square’ by Naomi Thomas, 17, from Sheffield

About the 2020 short stories:

‘Winds that Travel Across’ by Maleeha Faruki:

Over the course of a car journey, a father shares his memories of childhood, joys and hardships in India and the reasons he came to Britain. From frozen mountain peaks, to bustling bazaars and kitchens thick with the scent of lamb broth, this ‘effortless’ story was inspired by ‘people’s views on immigrants during Brexit’, a desire to reflect the stories that define us and the importance and humanity in individual experience.

‘Three Pomegranate Seeds’ by Mei Kawagoe:

In a highly imaginative and ‘fiercely evocative’ feminist retelling of a classic myth, Mei, whose writing has been performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Other Place, gives voice and agency to the kidnapped Persephone in this ‘visceral’ and rebellious story. Poetic and dream-like, it exposes societal constraints and the lessons girls are taught during childhood: to play small, be nice and not ask for more.

‘Bingo Tuesdays’ by Ben Marshall:

A ‘beautifully observed’ and ‘bittersweet’ story about family, loss and memory, Bingo Tuesdays was inspired by Ben’s personal experience of visiting care homes and the view that ‘sometimes care homes are where we discard the elderly’. Tender, emotionally mature and with a vividly realised sense of place, this story of a young man visiting his grandmother for their weekly bingo sessions was also inspired by memories of bingo sessions at Butlins, family experiences of Alzheimer’s and his grandparents love for each other.

‘The Changeling’ by Lottie Mills:

Previously shortlisted in 2018, Lottie Mills #OwnVoices story was inspired by frustration with ‘how difference, especially disability, is represented in fiction’. Reclaiming the myth of the ‘changeling’ and transforming it from something used to persecute and exclude into something magical, she explores disability via the fantastic in this ‘heartbreakingly well-written’ and ‘genuine triumph’ of a fable about a young girl’s extraordinary coming of age.

‘The Battle of Trafalgar Square’ by Naomi Thomas:

Described by judges as a ‘a punch in the face of a story, in the best possible way,’ an ordinary commute on a crowded tube train is transformed into a surreal and darkly, comic experience when a woman has an unexpected and shocking accident. Written as practice for Naomi’s English Language GCSE, the story exposes both the good and bad in human nature via a short story that highlights the power of the form to ‘give us a complete literary experience in and of itself’. An avid short story writer, Naomi was Highly Commended in the Young Northern Writers’ Awards 2020.

The shortlisted stories can be read and listened to online at:

Key Dates:

  • From 6pm Sunday 20th September: The five shortlisted stories and interviews with the writers are available to listen to via the Short Works podcast on the BBC Sounds app and the BBC Radio 1 website
  • Tuesday 6 October: The winners of the BBC Young Writers’ Award and the 15th BBC National Short Story Award will be announced in a special short story edition of BBC Radio 4’s Front Row from 7.15pm.
  • 46pm Sunday 11th October: The winner of the BBC Young Writers’ Award will be interviewed on Radio 1’s Life Hacks.

Friday, 18 September 2020

Lindsay Cummings title announcement and extract

I got a very exciting email from Harper Collins about an exciting new book by Lindsay Cummings, and now I get to share the gorgeous cover, title and an extract!


Just look at those colours! The blurb and extract are below. I'm really excited about this one! Thank you to Harper Collins for asking me to help spread the word.

Her destiny was death. The shadows brought her back.

Wrongly accused of her brother’s murder, Sonara’s destiny was to die, sentenced to execution by her own mother. Punished and left for dead, the shadows have cursed her with a second life as a Shadowblood, cast out and hunted by society for her demon-like powers.

Now known as the Devil of the Deadlands, Sonara survives as a thief on the edge of society, fighting for survival on a quest to uncover what really happened to her brother and whether he is even dead at all…

Blood Metal Bone is the astounding new novel from New York Times bestselling author Lindsay Cummings. This is the perfect adrenaline-packed read for fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, The Mandalorian and Sarah J Maas’ Throne of Glass series.

To celebrate the announcement of Blood Metal Bone, the astounding new novel from New York Times bestselling author Lindsay Cummings, HQ Stories have decided to share an exclusive extract with us! Read on for more…


Sonara found him at the ocean’s edge.

            The suns were just setting, a double green flash as they sank out of view beyond the farthest stretch of sea.

            Seated on the sand, toes not far from the lapping waves, was Soahm.

            A mere speck in the distance, she hadn’t seen him in weeks, not since the battle. Not since he’d returned home, wounded from a skirmish in the neighboring Deadlands, his leg torn open and bloodied as he lay in the back of a soldier’s cart.

            “Slow, beast,” Sonara murmured to Duran now, leaning back a bit.

            The steed dropped to a calm walk, responding to the motion of her body. She’d trained him to respond only to the pressure of her legs, to the click of her tongue, to the shifting of her weight or a gentle murmur of a practiced command.

            The trainers had called her a fool, at the beginning. But now the bastard girl of Soreia had become the beast’s master. And perhaps one of the finest riders the Kingdom had to offer.

            “Go on,” Sonara murmured as she stopped Duran and slid down from his back. “Eat your fill.”

            His nostrils flared as he trotted off towards the dunes, fresh pale seagrass waving atop it. Soahm’s mare was already there, happy as could be. The wind blew, carrying her scent down the hillside, and Sonara swore she could feel a bit of peace wash over her.

Her footsteps were drowned out by the crashing sea as she approached her brother. The prince was busy sketching, the back of his left hand turned dark from smudges of charcoal. She rarely saw him without those telltale smudges. The moon was out in full tonight, a beautiful blue that cast a cool glow across the beach.

“What are you doing all the way out here, Soahm?” Sonara asked.

They were nearly an hour’s ride from the castle, on the fringes of the freelands where herds of wild steeds still roamed. He often came out here, to think. To enjoy the silence, without their mother barking commands, or filling his list with countless princely duties.

Sonara wouldn’t know a life like that. And in that, at least, she was grateful for her separation from the ones she could have called family.

“Sonara.” Soahm sighed her name in greeting.

She could sense the sadness in him, as deep as the ocean floor. He tossed a lilac shell into the sea. “I can’t lead this kingdom the way she wants me to.” He glared at his injured leg, splayed before him in a splint. Beside him, a discarded crutch that had become his constant companion. “I’m broken, Sonara.”

“Broken?” Her dark eyes widened. “You’re injured, Soahm. That’s a far cry from broken. You’ll heal.”

“There’s a chance I won’t.” Soahm looked at her fully, and his blue eyes, so unlike hers, were rimmed with red. “The healers say it’s possible that I’ll never fully recover. The people want a warrior, Sonara. Like our mother. They want to know that their future king will rule with sword and shield, will not balk or falter in the face of his enemies. I cannot give them that.”

“Perhaps you never could,” Sonara said with a shrug.

Those blue eyes widened ever more.

She held up a hand and offered him a gentle smile. “You’re not like that, Soahm. Before the injury, after it . . . it’s never been you. If they want a king like that, they can move north to the Deadlands, and bow at Jira’s feet. Or worse, to the White Wastes, and praise the ice queen.”

Soahm frowned, his brow furrowing. “You think me weak?”

“The opposite,” Sonara said. “I think you’re strong. But in a different way. Perhaps a better way . . .” She considered for a moment, as a distant pod of sea wyverns splashed their tails above the waves. “Yima rides with heavy heels. The steeds respond, but they don’t respect her.” Sonara reached out, and scooped up a handful of sand, letting it fall through her fingertips. The grains danced away on the wind. “The people want someone they can respect, and it isn’t always earned with a warrior’s sword. Give them a reason to follow you. Give them a leader they can be proud of. Bend a knee to their level, and show them you understand their struggles, their worries and fears, that you care about filling their bellies and giving their children a safe place to learn and play and sleep.”

“But how can I do that?” Soahm asked. “How can I do that like this? The Great War ended when Jira rose to power, but skirmishes still rise. There is still unrest on the borderlands.”

Sonara grabbed her brother’s hand and squeezed it, forcing him to pay attention. To look at her clearly, with her muddied blue hair, her dark eyes, her differences that marked her as a bastard. The lowest of the low. “See them, Soahm. All of them, not just the wealthy and the nobles. See them all, the way you have always seen me.”

He squeezed her hand back, then let it go. They sat together for a time, watching the stars wink down from the sky. Behind them, Duran had crossed to the hills, his face buried in the seagrass as he filled his ever-hungering belly.

“Let’s walk,” Soahm said. His voice was a bit lighter, the heaviness replaced by what Sonara felt was, perhaps, hope.

She reached out a hand to help him stand. He took it gratefully, a prince that was never too proud, and together, they walked, their cloaks dancing behind them in the wind. In the distant sky, a star was falling, a trail of glitter in its wake.

“I’ve spent more time sketching,” Soahm said. “Mother doesn’t know, of course. She’d slay me herself if she thought I was wasting my time sketching when I could be studying.” He reached into his cloak pocket and pulled out his leather-bound journal. On the front, a stamped insignia of a rearing steed. He flipped through the pages until he landed on a sketch of a warrioress, seated atop Duran.

“It’s me,” Sonara said.

She smiled.

“The She-Devil,” Soahm said with a wink. “Keep it. He passed her the journal. “I have plenty. Try your hand at a sketch, Little Sister. It’s kept me busy during my recovery.”

Sonara laughed, for she’d never been able to sit still enough to sketch, but she tucked the journal into her cloak anyways, to humor him. She was about to suggest they turn back, her body growing tired, when the star in the distance caught her eye again.

Stars didn’t fall quite like that, cutting through the night like a beacon.

“Do you . . .” Sonara pointed. “Do you see it?”

Soahm followed her gaze through the sky, the light reflecting upon the black sea. It drew ever closer, the brightness intensifying until she saw that it was not a star.

Rather, it was a shape, a blazing trail of fire beyond it. A shape that looked like the head of an arrow, slicing through the sky; metallic. Not of this world.

The wind kicked up, gusting towards her as a rumble sounded from the object, shooting across the sky like a war drum.

Sonara’s blood felt cold, her heartbeat rising to her throat. Danger. She felt it, a sickness spreading through her gut. Behind her, Duran and the mare cried out, then galloped over the hills, out of sight.

“Run,” Sonara whispered. She gripped Soahm’s hand, her nails digging into his skin as fear overcame her. “Soahm, run!”

She turned, tugging him along with her. The beach was a wide expanse of sand spreading into the dunes beyond. Nowhere to hide, nowhere to bury themselves in the shadows, except . . .

The cave on the edge of the Devil’s Dunes.

A burial ground for the dead, a sacred space that was not to be disturbed, and yet Sonara found herself tugging Soahm towards the yawning black mouth of it, the safety of darkness calling them home.

“Slow down!” Soahm yelled. He stumbled, but Sonara tugged his hand harder, her fear a living thing inside of her now.

Run, it beckoned. Run, and do not slow down.

She had always been smaller than most, lithe and used to working long hours in the stables. She pushed herself, legs burning as she trudged through the deep sand.

Behind her, the object closed in, screaming from the sky as the winds kicked up. She looked overhead as light flared. She saw only metal, like a great beast in the sky, a crimson bird painted upon its belly.

At some point her sweaty hand slipped from Soahm’s. She reached the mouth of the cave, darkness swallowing her up, safety wrapping its arms around her as she disturbed the domain of the dead.

She turned in time to see Soahm hit the sand. For a moment, her panic cleared at the sight of him, his crutch discarded, his hand reaching for her.

But fear snapped its angry jaws, freezing Sonara in place as her entire body shook. Soahm sruggled to his feet, then cried out in pain again.

He was crawling now, his leg splayed at an awkward angle behind her.


She saw his lips move, forming her name. But she could not hear him over the screeching of the metal beast in the sky.

She took a step forward, her whole body so seized in fear that her legs felt leaden.

Another step. She could do this. She could save Soahm. She reached out her hand, leaving the shadows just as a beam of blue light erupted from the belly of the beast. It surrounded Soahm, lifting him from the sand. He screamed and thrashed, trying to escape, but he was powerless to the beam’s hold, as if it were some dark, powerful magic. His arms stretched, his amulet dangling from his tunic, shining in the beam as the beast’s great metal belly yawned wide, pulling him inside before slamming back shut.

Soahm was gone.


The floor beneath the Queen’s dais was bathed in blood.

It was a cool night, steam still rising from the rivers of crimson that had pooled between the pearlescent green tiles. They came to a stop at the edge of the throne room, where rows of soldiers stood guard, swords and spears in hand. Behind them, a thick crowd stood watching the public trial.

All had been called to file in, to boo and jeer and stomp their feet as Queen Iridis charged the Bastard Girl of Soreia with the murder of the Crown Prince.

“You will never shed your filth on this Kingdom again,” Iridis said. She lifted a hand in command. Another lash of the whip followed. The sharpened prongs tore Sonara’s skin away in bleeding chunks, dragging through muscle down to bone. “You will spend the rest of your days wandering the planet alone like the bastard you were born as.”

I didn’t kill the prince!” Sonara screamed. She hardly recognized her own voice, as if her vocal cords had been ripped to shreds with each scream following the lash of the whip.

The crowd began to boo, spitting as they stared at Sonara with disgust in their eyes. The skin on her back was torn to ribbons; the blood that was half-Soahm’s pooling around her body. Gone. Soahm was gone.

Some, watching from the sides, held hands to their faces, horrified as the Queen’s guard slung the whip again. Blood and bits of flesh rained upon the floor.

But they hadn’t uttered a word in her defense. Nothing to lay claim to the fact that they might have seen the great metal beast falling from the sky, lighting up the night like a beacon before it took Soahm.

Sonara hadn’t known true pain, hadn’t known agony, until this moment. She became only the rush of hot blood running down her back, knew only the wicked kiss of the whip as it feasted on her skin.

How many times would her mother order her flayed? How many strokes of that whip would she endure, before death stole her away?

It was a mercy she would have begged for, had she the strength to utter the words.

She’d come to the castle last night to save him. She’d ridden from that hellish beach as fast as Duran could carry them both. She’d burst through the gates, his hooves pounding across the cobbles like a war drum, not caring about the citizens diving out of the way, or the soldiers standing guard, the weapons they’d pointed as they’d commanded her to halt.

Nothing else mattered, for the Crown Prince was gone.

Up, and away, into the silent skies, as if he’d never existed at all.

Beneath the moon, Sonara had pleaded with the guards to wake her mother, and by the grace of the goddesses, the Queen had come, wrapped in robes, her face gaunt as she listened to Sonara sob the truth of Soahm’s taking.

Iridis hadn’t believed her.

She’d placed the blame of Soahm’s disappearance upon Sonara, refusing to believe her tall tale of a great metal beast soaring down from the night skies.

Now, Sonara lay dying,

“He was my firstborn. The heir to the Soreian throne,” the Queen said. She stood atop the dais, her voice ringing out across the throne room, sickeningly calm. “You killed him. For that, you will die.”

The whip came down again.

“Bastard!” the crowd shouted. “The Bastard girl of Soreia!”

Another lash.

“You have no name,” the Queen said.

Skin, torn away from Sonara’s muscles.

“You have no kingdom.”

Muscles, torn away from her bones.

And then the sentence came.

“Tonight,” the Queen said, as silence swept across the throne room, “you will die.”

In her mind, Sonara escaped to thoughts of the girl Soahm had once spoken of: the She-Devil, the dream she should have grabbed a hold of when they’d thought it up together in the stables. She should have run far, far away.

Her other half-siblings, the princes and princesses of Soreia, stood with their arms crossed on the dais, the fringes of their robes flecked with her blood. They watched, unwavering as their mother beat Sonara to the end of breathing.

They left just enough life in her to perform the Leaping.

At dusk, Sonara was placed on an open wagon and carted to the edge of the Kingdom in full view, so that the watching crowd could gaze upon the fate of a kingdom’s traitor.

They gathered and grew and followed to the edge of Cradle’s Cliff. It towered so high the clouds kissed it, moistened the earth like it had been covered in a blanket of winter’s breath. The ocean raged against the rocks below, sea-spray erupting in the air where it was picked up by the wind.

The salt air stung as it landed on Sonara’s open back. Her vision flitted from dark to light as the cart wheels groaned to a stop, and strong hands lifted her ruined body.

She could scarcely hold open her eyes as the crowd chanted.

But one sound broke above it all.

A cry. A mighty, beastly screech that forced her eyes open.


Her heart sank. There he was, the beast that had become hers, fighting for freedom at the edge of the cliff. Two trainers held a rope, their feet scrambling for purchase against the moist earth as Duran reared and threw his mighty head about, trying in vain to escape.

They made her watch as they bound him, man by man, ropes on his legs, ropes slung around his strong neck. His red eyes were ablaze, sides heaving as he stood there, a captive.

He was hers.

And that made him as good as dead.

Fight, Sonara wanted to tell him, as she was lifted from the cart by strong soldier hands. She hung between two men as they dragged her towards Duran, feet scraping the earth. Oh, goddesses, just keep fighting.

But in her presence, at her touch, the mighty steed calmed. He allowed Sonara to be placed upon him, those very ropes used to bind them both together as the guards slung her on his back.

She knew this death: the Leaping.

A death reserved for a traitor. A coward. A deserter, tied to the back of their own steed, forced to ride over the edge of the abyss.

The crowd cheered, as Sonara slumped forwards on Duran. They made a path, two sides that closed in, the nearer they got to the edge.

“Over the edge,” the Queen said. “To a death that has no peace. No silence. No end.

The trainers released the ropes, cracking the whip over Duran’s back as they commanded him forwards.

His nostrils flared. But he steeled himself and did not move.

“Again,” the Queen commanded. The tips of her blue braids danced in the wind, mirroring her cold blue eyes. Soahm’s eyes.

The whip cracked again, doubly as hard. Duran screamed as his skin split open. But still, he held his ground.

Tears streamed down Sonara’s cheeks. She had only enough strength to utter a plea. Just me.”

But the Queen only lifted her hand again, and the guards brought down the whip once more.

Duran finally took a step forward.

“Fight against them,” Sonara thought to him. With everything in her, she wished he could hear her words, could take comfort in her presence. “Don’t let it end like this.”

Another step. This one a lurch as Duran sidestepped, another lash open on his side. The motion sent pain rocketing into Sonara’s body, the wind howling, the cold salt spray like a knife reopening her wounds.

“Direct him,” the Queen ordered.

She marched up to Sonara’s side, reached out and gripped her by the chin.

“For you there will be no grave.”

Sonara spat in her face.

Then she turned, her fingers digging into Duran’s wet mane. The crowd closed in behind them, pushing until onwards, the mighty steed stepped. He kept stepping as the crowd pressed in, until it became a jog. Until the jog became a thundering canter, consciousness slipping from Sonara’s grasp with every beat of his hooves.

The last thing she saw, the last thing she heard, was Duran’s defiant cry as they made the Leaping.

Over the cliff they soared, tumbling headlong into the raging waters below.

Sonara could have sworn, just before death stole her away, that soft hands caressed her skin. That the sea split open around both of their bodies. That tendrils of shadowy darkness slithered up from the depths of the sea and wove their way around her skin, coiling against her fingertips, her legs, her throat. Sliding their way into her mouth, choking her last breath.

And then a whisper. Delicate, but as steady as the nearby tides as she drifted, slowly, towards dark.

Not yet, my heart.

Not yet.

Afterwards came stillness.




Want to carry on reading? Request Blood Metal Bone on NetGalley now!

Blood Metal Bone is coming January 2021. Available to pre-order here

Saturday, 12 September 2020

BBC Short Story Award shortlist

I've been an ambassador for the National Short Story Award for three years now and I'm thrilled to announce this year's shortlist. It's been described as a bold, experimental selection and I can't wait to read the stories! Congratulations to all of the shortlistees.


2013 BBC NSSA winner and four-time nominated Sarah Hall joined by 26-year-old British-Ghanaian photographer Caleb Azumah Nelson, Creative Writing lecturer and James Tait Black Prize winner Eley Williams, poet and newcomer Jack Houston, and Belfast-based writer and 2019 EU Prize for Literature for Ireland winner Jan Carson to complete shortlist of writers exploring race, family politics, millennial relationships and inner-city life.

 BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University 2020 shortlist is:

   ‘Pray’ by Caleb Azumah Nelson

·         ‘In The Car With the Rain Coming Down’ by Jan Carson

·         ‘The Grotesques’ by Sarah Hall

·         ‘Come Down Heavy’ by Jack Houston

·         ‘Scrimshaw’ by Eley Williams


The BBC National Short Story Award is one of the most prestigious for a single short story, with the winning author receiving £15,000, and four further shortlisted authors £600 each. The 2019 winner of the BBC National Short Story Award was Welsh writer Jo Lloyd, who won for The Invisible’.

The 2020 winner will be announced live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row on Tuesday 6th October.

All five stories will be broadcast on Radio 4 and on BBC Sounds and published in an anthology produced by Comma Press. 

About the short stories:

British-Ghanaian Caleb Azumah Nelson’sPray’ is a ‘vibrant, invigorating and agile’ story set over a summer in South East London. Charged with ‘wit, anger, affection and sorrow’, the story shows the reality for young black men navigating a world that ‘wasn’t built with us in mind’.  With characters and dialogue so alive they reach out from the page, ‘Pray’ explores fear, injustice, masculinity, race and the origins of violence. Caleb’s eagerly anticipated debut novel Open Water recently sold in a nine-way auction and publishes in February 2021.

Jan Carson, winner of the EU Prize for Literature for Ireland 2019, is shortlisted for her ‘tender, humane and sharply observed’ story ‘In The Car With the Rain Coming Down’. Inspired by her upbringing in rural, Protestant Northern Ireland, she takes both her characters and readers on a literal and emotional journey, weaving together family politics and community rivalries as a family set off on an ill-fated picnic. Tender, nuanced and funny, it will resonate with anyone who is part of an extended family.

Carson is joined on the shortlist by Sarah Hall, the 2013 BBC NSSA winner, twice nominated for the Booker prize and the author of five novels. ‘The Grotesques’ is the ‘brilliantly observed and layered story’ of a young woman’s birthday gathering. Set against the backdrop of privilege and inequality in a university town, it explores themes of toxic mother-child relationships, covert control, scapegoating, and the masks we can wear to either challenge or conform to our place in society.

Shortlisted for the Award for the first time is Keats-Shelley Prize runner-up and one-to-watch Jack Houston with the ‘uncompromising, compelling’ ‘Come Down Heavy’, inspired by his own experiences. Echoes of Kae Tempest and Irvine Welsh imbue the prose-poetry of his ‘breathless’ work – a spiralling, unsettling and disorientating story of two women’s seemingly unstoppable descent into a world on the fringes of society; a world of poverty, violence, addiction and despair.

Completing the shortlist is Eley Williams, Creative Writing Lecturer at Royal Holloway and winner of the James Tait Black Prize, shortlisted for her surreal and succinct ‘Scrimshaw’. A ‘fresh, funny’ take on millennial relationships and the perils of modern smartphone communication, this ‘taut tale’ told via a late-night text session and inspired by the ‘literary nonsense’ of Edward Lear and Ivor Cutler, explores self-censorship, anxiety, attraction and the boundaries of language.

The BBC also continue to celebrate young, emerging talent with the sixth BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University shortlist announced on Sunday 20th September. Open to 1318 year olds, the aim of this Award is to inspire and encourage the next generation of short story writers and is a cross-network collaboration between BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 1. The winner of the BBC Young Writers’ Award will also be announced on 6th October on Front Row.

Key Dates:

·         From Friday 11 September: Front Row will broadcast interviews with each of the 2020 shortlisted writers on Radio 4 and on BBC Sounds from 7pm on Friday 11, and from 7.15pm on Monday 14, Tuesday 15, Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 September 2020.

·         From Monday 14 September: Shortlisted stories will be broadcast on Radio 4 and on BBC Sounds from Monday 14 to Friday 17 September 2020 from 3.30 to 4pm.

·         From Monday 14 September: An anthology – The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University 2020 – introduced by Chair of Judges Freedland and published by Comma Press will be available at and all good bookshops priced £7.99.

·         Sunday 20 September: The stories shortlisted for the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University will be announced on Radio 1 and on BBC Sounds on Sunday 20 September from 4 6pm.

·        Tuesday 6 October: The announcement of the winners of the two awards and a celebration of the 15th anniversary of the BBC National Short Story Award will be announced in a special short story edition of BBC Radio 4’s Front Row from 7.15pm.