Picture of author John D Rutter.
John D Rutter

A writer of and about short stories from Edge Hill University says that winning this year’s Northbound Book Award will change his life.

As today marks National Northern Authors Day (1st July), John D Rutter is celebrating the news that Saraband are to publish his novel Approval, which follows would-be adoptive parents David and Cici through the complex local authority pre-adoption process.

Approval is his first full-length work and has also won the 2020 NorthBound Book Prize, which is one of the Northern Writers’ Awards and is a collaboration between New Writing North and Saraband.

The associate tutor for Creative Writing said: “The Northbound Book Award will change my life. Having started writing relatively late in life, I can finally say I am an author and commit my time to writing. I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with Saraband.”

Approval tackles the painful experience of childlessness and the path to becoming adoptive parents, viewed largely from the seldom-explored man’s perspective. Focusing on David’s past, each chapter opens with a simulated page of a local authority questionnaire for prospective adopters, interrogating an aspect of applicants’ histories – including their families, early life and schooling, previous relationships, past and present friendships, childcare experience and career. Linked short stories each centre on an episode in David’s background that relates to the opening question.

Sara Hunt for Saraband said: “Approval is a powerful and accomplished work that asks uncomfortable questions about a painful, intrusive process. With an unflinching eye, the author draws the reader into the process of judgement, chapter by chapter. Against a strong field, this is an outstanding winner, and we can’t wait to publish the book.”

John D Rutter completed his PhD on the short story at Edge Hill University, where he has taught part-time for several years. His short stories have been published as chapbooks and in anthologies, as well as in a number of journals and magazines. Prior to writing and teaching full-time, he worked in management. He lives in Lancashire with his wife, Lin.

Edge Hill University offers a range of courses in Creative Writing where you can learn from a world-class community of writers to gain insights into publishing, broadcasting and professional production on a degree brought to life by guest writers, visiting professionals, readings and workshops. To find out more, visit the website.

The University also founded the Edge Hill Short Story Prize in 2006, highlighting the intricate craftsmanship of short story writing. The Prize remains unique as the only annually presented award that recognises excellence in a published, single-authored collection of short stories in the UK and Ireland.