The winner of last year’s Edge Hill Short Story Prize, acclaimed author Tessa Hadley, has commended the award’s ‘gathering prestige’ ahead of this year’s ceremony.
Tessa, who won the 2018 prize for her collection of short stories entitled Bad Dreams, said she was proud to be counted among the award’s recipients, who she described as “some of the best writers we have” in the UK.
The author of novels, short stories and non-fiction, this year sits on the panel of judges who will announce the winner of the 2019 prize at a special ceremony in Waterstones flagship store in Piccadilly, London this Friday 25 October.
The authors shortlisted for the 2019 Prize are Wendy Erskine, Vicky Grut, Chris Power, David Szalay and Lucy Wood, who will all give readings from their collections on the night, as well as Simon van Booy who lives in New York.
Tessa said: “There are some prizes you might hold back from entering when you have an established writing career; but the Edge Hill isn’t one of them.
“It’s been won in the past by some of the best writers we have and has a gathering prestige. I’m very proud that it’s one of the three prizes I’ve won in my career so far.
But probably the most important effect of winning is for the writer herself: the solid confirmation that one has readers out there who value what you’re doing, who care about how you’re writing, the choices you’re making, your style and your material.
It’s such a precious boost to confidence; you go back to work with a renewed sense of purpose.”
As highlighted by Billy Cowan, senior lecturer in Creative Writing at the University, the Edge Hill Prize is the only national award for a single-authored collection of short stories.
The prize, which is worth £10,000 to the winner, puts the form and its writers under the spotlight.
“In a world where the more traditional publishers are turning their back on the short story,” Billy said, “it is important that the Edge Hill Prize exists to encourage new short story writers and publishers.
“As online platforms for the short story explode, the Edge Hill Prize also acts as an aspirational goal for the many new short story writers who are finding a home for their work online.”
Tessa, author of novels, short stories and non-fiction added: “There are so many prizes for single stories but this is quite a different thing.
“The Prize takes the short story form so seriously, to consider a collection in its wholeness: the author’s range and scope, the whole span of what they’re capable of, what their interests are.
“A collection gives a reader the shape of the author’s mind in the way a single story can’t. A prize for a collection seems to put the short form on the same level as prizes for novels.”
Joining Tessa on the judging panel are Sam Jordison of Galley Beggar Press and author Elizabeth Baines – they will also choose the winner of the MA Prize which is given to a student studying the MA in Creative Writing.
The Reader’s Choice Award will also be announced on Friday, with the judging panel consisting of creative writing students from Edge Hill, past and present; the winner will receive a £1,000 prize.
Tessa offered sound advice to aspiring writers who look to awards like the Edge Hill Short Story Prize.
“The more you read, the richer your idea of what writing can achieve, in all its varieties.
“In fact, it’s even a good idea to imitate. Imitate the writers you love best: you won’t actually sound like them, you’ll still sound like yourself, but trying it will stretch your capacity, the range of what you can do.
“And I suppose the other piece of advice is – persevere. Be exacting with yourself. Fail, and start again. This isn’t wise, but it’s necessary.”
Within the Department of English, History and Creative Writing, Edge Hill University offers a three-year BA in Creative Writing and a full or part-time Masters in Creative Writing, both of which are open to international students.