Dr Claire Dean

Lecturer in Creative Writing

Department of English, History & Creative Writing


I’m a short story writer whose work explores the fantastic in the everyday. My stories are widely published in print and online and are included in Best British Short Stories (Salt, 2017, 2014 & 2011), Thought X (Comma Press, 2017), Spindles (Comma Press, 2015) and Beta-Life (Comma Press, 2015). Bremen, The Unwish, Marionettes and Into the Penny Arcade are published as limited-edition chapbooks by Nightjar Press. My first collection, The Museum of Shadows and Reflections, was published by Unsettling Wonder in 2016. My stories often draw on fairy tales, folklore, myth and surrealism. My work has been anthologised, reprinted, translated and podcasted by a broad range of literary, horror and weird fiction publications.

I love making stories for unusual settings, and this has led to me developing site-specific installations and performance work for a number of festivals and large-scale arts events.  I also have a strong interest in science communication. I’m currently writer-in-residence for Ensemble, a computing and environmental science project at Lancaster University. I consider writing to be a material practice and I’m interested in how writers can work with technologies to develop and shape their work. My PhD research in Design and Computing at Lancaster University focused on making digital wonder tales with ecological themes. Many of these stories use sensors to respond to either the reader or the environment. Examples include Persephone’s Footsteps, a version of the Persephone myth that is altitude responsive – the listener can only hear the next part of the story if, like Persephone, they can reach higher ground; Detours from Lichen Cartography, an urban wonder tale that will only grow longer outside in daylight; and The Tide Jar, a short graphic story that is illuminated only at full and new moon, when the tide is highest.

Before embarking on PhD research, I’d worked as an Associate Lecturer at MMU and UCLAN and run workshops in community and educational settings. I’ve also worked as a bookseller, editor, literature festival coordinator and project manager. I have an MA in Creative Writing from Edge Hill (2011) and a BA in Acting from East 15 Acting School (2002).


I’m module leader for Building the World (WRI1014). I’m also teaching Introduction to Fiction (WRI1019), Introduction to Non-Fiction (WRI1022), Writing Short Stories (WRI2024), Advanced Fiction (WRI3022) and Inside the Publishing Industry (WRI2020). I also contribute to the Creative Writing MA and Experiments (WRI3026).


Selected short stories in print

The Museum of Shadows and Reflections (Unsettling Wonder/Papavaria Press 2016) – a collection of short stories with illustrator Laura Rae

Bremen (Nightjar Press, 2017)
The Unwish (Nightjar Press, 2017)
‘People Watching’ in Thought X eds. Ra page & Rob Appleby (Comma Press, 2017)
‘Is-and’ is reprinted in The Best British Short Stories 2017  ed. Nicholas Royle (Salt)
‘Is-and’ in Dead Letters ed. Conrad Williams (Titan Books, 2016)
‘Voice Marks’ in Spindles:Stories from the Science of Sleep eds. Ra Page & Penny Lewis (Comma Press, 2015)
‘Making Sandcastles’ in Beta-Life eds. Ra Page & Martyn Amos (Comma Press, 2015)
‘Glass, Bricks, Dust’ is reprinted in The Best British Short Stories 2014  ed. Nicholas Royle (Salt)
‘Glass, Bricks, Dust’ & accompanying essay in New Fairy Tales, eds. John Patrick Pazdziora and Defne Çizakça (Unlocking Press, 2013)
‘Into the Penny Arcade’ is reprinted in The Best Horror of the Year Volume 5, ed. Ellen Datlow (Nightshade Books, 2013)
‘Marionettes’ is reprinted in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 24, ed. Stephen Jones (Constable & Robinson, 2013)
Marionettes (Nightjar Press, 2012)

Into the Penny Arcade (Nightjar Press, 2012)
‘In the dressing room mirror’ in Still ed. Roelof Bakker (Negative Press, 2012)
‘Bird Doll’ in The Screaming Book of Horror ed. Johnny Mains (Screaming Dreams Press, 2012) .
‘Harness & leash for a fly’ in The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, eds. Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (Harper Voyager, 2012)
‘For the true anatomy’ in Murmurations: An Anthology of Uncanny Stories about Birds ed. Nicholas Royle (Two Ravens Press, 2011) 
‘Feather Girls’ is reprinted in The Best British Short Stories 2011 ed. Nicholas Royle (Salt, 2011)


My stories have also featured in many print and digital journals and zines including Shadows and Tall Trees, Patricide, Magpie Magazine, Unsettling Wonder, Acapella Zoo, Scheherezade’s Bequest, The Adirondack Review and Metazen.



Commissioned stories, performances and installations

‘The Two Sisters’ A Festival of Tales commission for Chapel Gallery (2017) – performance and online publication of a short story

‘A Rat’s Tale’ installation and performances Light Up Lancaster 2017 (2017) – festival installations and performance

‘The River Library’, Flow, Manchester Science Festival, Museum of Science and Industry (2017) – storymaking installation

‘Leonora, Fly’ short story for the Leonora Carrington Centenary Symposium at Edge Hill University (2017) – performance

‘The Weeder Woman’, National Trust Clumber Park (2016) a site-specific audio story installation with Liz Edwards

‘The Scarecrow and the Boy’, National Trust Clumber Park (2016) a site-specific audio story installation with Liz Edwards

‘Making a Breath’ Re/Place commission for Chorlton Arts Festival (2015) – short story and performance

‘Data Stories’, Environmental Internet of Things, School of Computing and Communications, Lancaster University (2015) – a series of four environmentally responsive stories

‘Pomona Fair’ commission for Manchester Literature Festival and Open Stories (2014) – short story, performance and online publication

‘The Wish Depository’ for Encounters Festival, LEAP (2014) – installation and perfromance

‘Gold Threads’ Preston3Twenty commission for They Eat Culture and Preston Guild (2012) – short story, performance and audio storywalk

‘The Stone King’ for Lancaster City Council and Litfest (2012) – performance and audio storywalk

‘A Book Tale’, The Word Dress for Litfest (2010) – short story and performance (in a dress made from books!)



Reading Lights (Litfest/Light Up Lancaster, 2013) – poetry installation

Malkin Child (Foxtail, 2012) – children’s book for Lancashire Reads 2012

The Language of Footprints (Flax, 2012) – online publication

Paraxis (2011-2013) – co-founding editor, online publication

New Fairy Tales (2008-2011) – founding editor, online publication


Conference presentations

‘A Long Map: exploring walking as a method to make altitude-responsive ambient literature’, MIX 2017. 10/07/17 – 12/07/17, Bath Spa University.

‘Writing as Making, Making as Writing’, Writing as a Material Practice Workshop. 24/05/2017, Lancaster University

‘Writing Without Type: Explorations in Developing a Digital Writing Practice’, International Conference on Digital Media and Textuality. 3/11/2016 – 5/11/2016, University of Bremen, Germany.

‘Making Wonder Tales: Developing a Digital Writing Practice’, Screening the Literary: Writing Quality on the Web. 28/10/2016, Lancaster University.

‘Writing from Research: Fact into Fiction’, Celebrating the Short Story. 5/12/2015, University of Huddersfield.

‘Making with Wonder Workshop’, National Association of Writers in Education Conference. 13/11/15 – 15/11/15, Durham.

‘Into the Digital Woods: Fairy Tales in New Forms’, MIX 03: Digital Writing Conference. 2/07/15 – 4/07/15, Bath Spa University.


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