Tuesday, 10 March 2009

TEA-SHOP WITH TANIA THEN DOWN THE PUB WITH RANA DASGUPTA


Lovely day for writing innit?
So was yesterday. I met Tania Hershman at St Pancras station, straight off Eurostar, from the retreat in Belgium she won in the Biscuit competition. Clever lady. As I waited I browsed the shops, looked for Salt books in Foyles... not one. 'Harangue them!' T texted. Maybe I should have.
T and I had tea at Peyton and Byrne, whose cupcakes look... like toys. They look as if they are actually made to float in the bath. Unreal, like illustrations in a children's book! (see pic above)
Lovely to catch up with T. Lovely to see that she is looking OK, if tired. (I was worried, because I'm an inveterate mother hen). She is having a story performed TONIGHT by Liar's League HERE

Thence by magical hated Underground tunnel to Picadilly and Costa Coffee in Lower Regent Street for the Willesden Herald Short Story Competition award ceremony, in the company of this year's judge, Rana Dasgupta.
What a brill event. Sponsored by Pulp.net, the prize was this year the coveted grail of short story writing (the Willesden Herald MUG) and a bit of cash.
Readings by three shortlistees, Jo Lloyd from Wales, Margot Taylor from Somerset and Jill Widner from the other Washington, USA. Also present, shortlistees Claudia Boers and Jenny Barden. The MUG is too precious to photograph, so here is a pic of Lord Willesden-Herald perusing a back copy of his media empire.
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Rana Dasgupta (Website HERE) took the floor, reading from his new novel, Solo. HERE. The novel ( this man's writing is endorsed by Salman Rushdie) tells the story of Ulrich, a 100 year old man in Bulgaria. Atmosphere, setting, character, intrigue, pathos... Rana Dasgupta

"And the runners up are...Jill Widner and Ben Cheetham."
Drum Roll...
"...and the winner is.....Jo Lloyd!" her story 'Work' leads the anthology, and the opening sentences are on the back cover. Not bad for a first publication, Jo. Many many congratulations.
Bought a copy of the brilliant looking Willesden Herald NEW SHORT STORIES 3

Then got it signed by as many winners and shortlistees as I could find in the crush.
Then a whole bunch of us went to the pub. Including the judge. Now that is a lovely thing for the guy to do.
Great to natter at length to Mrs (Lady) Willesden-Herald. These guys are simply great. So even though Mr Willesden herald would probably say 'No ta', I have elevated them both to the peerage. (Which means they will now be peered at. That's all it ever means anyway in real life innit?....)

Then home on the train. And read two stories: 'The Imperfect Roundness of Things' by Claudia Boers, and 'Ebb Tide' by Margot Taylor.

Much much enjoyed. The end of a poifick day.

2 comments:

Tania Hershman said...

Oh, the cupcakes looked just like that! So great to see you too, I welcome your mother-hen-ness. Ach, so much to talk about and we only skimmed the surface, like two chattering ships passing in the night (over-metaphor??). The Willesden event sounds fabulous, congratulations to all!

PS Like the new look black background..!

Jills said...

Vanessa,
I was listening a couple of nights ago to Jhumpa Lahiri read as a finalist of the Story award--http://www.one-story.com/blog/--and found while ordering her last collection, One World. Was delighted to see that a story of yours is included. I think we met, but only briefly. I was the amerikan. Terrific to be in Lahiri's company in the anthology. It is on its way. Looking forward.

Jill