Tuesday, 15 July 2008
AT BAFTA TO SEE CLARE WIGFALL WIN THE NATIONAL SHORT STORY AWARD
CLARE WIGFALL - 2008 WINNER, NATIONAL SHORT STORY AWARD...£15,000 richer!
I was there, at BAFTA, at the award breakfast, to hear the announcement. It was the most extraordinary thing. I was expecting to see hundreds of people there, but the whole audience numbered about fifty, including organisers and judges. A very select crew we were. I knew no one, although recognised a few. Great to meet James from Booktrust, who looks after the Story website. Met one of the judges, Naomi Alderman, a seriously buzzy lady who I’d heard read and talk at Small Wonder a couple of years back. Nattered at length with Jeanette Harris, General Manager of the Scottish Booktrust. And after the event, up came Chrissie Gittins, fellow Salt author, and poet, and writer for radio… great to see her.
So, it went something like this:
After a mill-about and chatter over coffee, we were ushered into the presentation room.
Chair of the judging panel, broadcaster and writer Martha Kearney introduced the event, and after a few thank you speeches from organisers she announced the winners. I had already decided it just HAD to be Clare…and it was.
Martha Kearney said this:
"It's exciting that a relatively unknown voice, in fact the youngest writer on our shortlist, has distinguished herself amongst some very well known authors as a leading talent in the world of storytelling. Clare’s evocation of superstition and frustrated lives on a remote Scottish island is an act of historical ventriloquism. She shows just what the short story can achieve, conjuring up a whole world in microcosm. The strength of our shortlist ranging from the gothic to the comic demonstrates that the short story is alive and well, the perfect art form for a time hungry age."
We then celebrated with Buck’s fizz while Clare was interviewed in the corner for the Today programme on Radio 4. We all came away with a goodie bag…all the five shortlisted stories in this year’s National Short Story prize anthology.
What a fabulous invitation. I am quite bemused how I got on the list, but am eternally grateful. It felt like I was part of a powerful movement in writing, just being there.
And did it feel poignant, because of the Bridport mix-up? No, not at all, if I’m honest. It was just joyous. And it was lovely to be able to give Clare Wigfall a congratulatory hug as I left. A smashing lady and a smashing writer.
Chrissie Gittins and I repaired to Fortnum and Mason’s for a spot of brekkie and a writerly natter.