Branch Lines Fiction by Marion Husband, Sheila Mulhern and Jane Wood
"Marion Husband, Sheila Mulhern and Jane Wood are strong, individual voices whose assured writing deserves to be read."
The place they've sent me is haunted. I told Father Archer and he said, "There are no such things as ghosts," as though I was a little child...
Maybe she was there, watching. It would be like her to slyly watch as he dug the grave...
Mum said, just as they were leaving, "Have you got your gloves?" There was a hunt for them. And all the time she kept Dad waiting outside on the step...
I loved writing stories and poems as a child and teenager but stopped when I was about eighteen. Then, about 1992, I began to write furtively in front of the tv when my children had gone to bed. I dared myself to attend an evening class called Writing For Pleasure & Profit and 'came out' as a writer, even giving family and friends stuff to read. In 1998, Teesside small press Mudfog published my first collection of short stories, entitled Three Little Deaths. A year later I was invited to submit a story to a small press in Newcastle, Diamond Twig, and it is that story, On the Stairs, which was published in Branch Lines Fiction. I've also been asked to submit work to various writing projects, initiated by bodies such as Cleveland Arts and the Durham Literature Festival, and have been published in anthologies they've produced. In March 2005 my short story The Burial Party was published in the literary magazine Sand. I am often asked to read my work in venues throughout the North East.
In 2001 I was accepted onto the MA in Creative Writing at Northumbria University, a two-year, part time course that covered both poetry and prose, and in 2003 I graduated with a distinction and won the Blackwell Prize for Best Performance. Whilst I was on the course I finished my first novel, The Boy I Love which was published by Accent Press.
During the MA I also wrote a series of poems about my father and childhood, and Mudfog published these in 2003 in a pamphlet titled Service.
Currently I'm working on my second novel, Paper Moon, on the basis of which I have just been chosen as the first winner of the Andrea Badenoch Award. I also teach writing at Adult Education colleges and for the Open College of the Arts and am on the board of Mudfog.
I am married with two children, Kay, aged 18 and Greg, seventeen.
Read an interview with Marion about the award from the Newcastle Journal.
I suppose that this is the bare bones of what I've achieved as a writer. But I'd also like to say that I'm passionate about writing and have learnt from the mistakes and successes of my twelve years not only writing but thinking, talking and teaching writing too. I know what it's like to struggle with the creative, thoughtful process of putting the best words in the best order, but this process is immensely satisfying and can give a great sense of achievement regardless of being published or not.
I started calling myself a writer in class 2 at St Cuthbert's on account of the student teacher praised my use of the word "and". (As in "the sparrow is a bird of pray and he have a roundy head".) She didn't mention anything about me being a writer but I rushed home and told them it anyway. They seemed pleased like it was an improvement on being sent home for killing Sister Margaret Tin that once but it meant parent's lie-check days were a torment:
"So you think Sheila will be a writer?"Nevertheless I learnt the critical "and" lesson.
"No. Where'd you get tha..."
I read a lot until I was about twelve and then stopped because newspapers told lies about things I'd seen with my own eyes making everything very suspect. I continued calling myself a writer despite never actually writing anything or even reading although to be fair I did like stationery.
At some stage I did start writing great skip loads of stuff about INJUSTICE or where the world's gone wrong, musings and explications by S T Mulhern, the writer and wrote 20,000 word short stories, enough word-be-word counting to unrail a person, especially for those who find it hard remembering numbers, like 8, where does 8 go?
Then came travel writing, (a spot of camping), which produced such seminal works as INJUSTICE or where your foreigner tends to go wrong. My fiction writing was confined to many C.V.s, no two the same and no one in any way accurate, which I sent off to various governments with advice and warnings. One went to Northumbria, the MA in Creative Writing and for the first time I began to get a grip on it. As I remember we bitched all the way through it, but now I can't recommend it strongly enough. It made me focus on the craft of writing, introduced notions like intelligibility and editing, which I still forget but nowadays I'm this side of grasping that they do exist and mean something or other. I find it hard to write and avoid it by sitting down or leaning against things for a couple of days. I want to do it but if your pen's not within arm's reach what can you do?
Then I went to Gillian Allnutt and Margaret Wilkinson's great group, and Julia and Ellen suggested a short story booklet (which I shall probably sellotape to my head after scribbling out Jane and Marion's names).
I have exquisite parents.