The News

Little Crackers longlisted for Edge Hill Short Story Prize


Little Crackers, the startling and quirky collection of short stories about mental illness by Beda Higgins, has been longlisted for the £5,000 Edge Hill Short Story Prize, alongside works by writers such as Hilary Mantel, AL Kennedy, Stella Duffy and Toby Litt.

Beda's collection of darkly humorous tales about mental health try to combat the ignorance, prejudice and fear that often surround mental illness. For Beda, this is particularly important at a time when mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and panic attacks are on the rise. Although mental illness touches so many of us, stigmatization still regularly occurs – both in the media and in everyday life.

She said, "Little Crackers is inspired by my nursing experiences. I came up with a world of strange characters – the paranoid, the isolated, the depressed – to illuminate the everyday grief, poverty, neglect and fear that we all know are common, but so often ignored. 

"Hopefully, the stories challenge our perception of normal, and question how we care for the most vulnerable members of our society."

She added, "I’m delighted and astounded to have my collection recognized by the Edge Hill Prize judges – and to be in the company of such fantastic writers." 

The Edge Hill Short Story Prize is the only UK award that recognizes excellence in a published collection of short stories. The shortlist of five for this year’s prize will be revealed in May and the winners announced at an award ceremony on 2 July at the Free Word Centre, London. The judges are the 2014 Readers’ Choice winner Rachel Trezise, The Guardian’s Chris Power, and novelist, editor and Edge Hill lecturer Dr Rodge Glass, who has described Little Crackers as a 'standout' entry.

A modern media morality tale with bite


The debut novel by Jane Alexander, The Last Treasure Hunt, is published on Thursday 26 March and launch events are taking place in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London to mark the occasion.

There will also be a special online treasure hunt to test the grey matter – see Jane's website for more details.

Already being described as a book that "marks the arrival of an important new voice", Jane's biting debut explores our obsession with fame and celebrity with great intelligence and sly wit.

Jane says: "The Last Treasure Hunt is the story of Campbell Johnstone, who’s just turned thirty and feels he’s been left behind by life. He measures his failures against the achievements of his friends and family, and especially against the success of his childhood friend Eve, who’s now a rising Hollywood actor.

"The novel tells the story of what happens when Cam tries to reconnect with Eve, with dramatic consequences – and asks how far we might go, what choices we might make, in pursuit of recognition.

"At its heart, The Last Treasure Hunt is a novel about friendship, betrayal and belonging."


The Last Treasure Hunt launch events:

Waterstones, Argyle St, Glasgow, on Wed 25 Mar, 7pm (with Margaret Montgomery) 

Golden Hare Books, 68 St Stephen Street, Edinburgh, on Thu 2 Apr, 7pm 

Lutyens & Rubinstein, 21 Kensington Park Road, London, on Wed 15 Apr, 7pm


Scandal, love, art and bohemia in 19th century Paris

Sumptuous historical fiction set in the studio of the legendary Rodin


Maggie Ritchie's fantastic debut novel, Paris Kiss, is published this week and we'll be celebrating with a special launch event at Glasgow's Argyle Street Waterstones on Thu 26 Feb at 7pm. Maggie will be in conversation with Bridget McCann, reading from Paris Kiss and signing copies.

Even before its release, Paris Kiss has been attracting some wonderful plaudits. France magazine, for example, describes it as "a touching tale of friendship, love and betrayal set against a colourful backdrop of the Paris art world". At the same time, the media has been taking a keen interest in the novel and Maggie herself, whose dedication to her labour of love is a terrific example to any aspiring writer.

"I worked on the book for several years after the idea came to me on my honeymoon in June 1999," says Maggie, who lives in Glasgow.

"I did deeper research on our return but went back again to Paris for our first anniversary so that I could delve further into what I wanted to write, not that you need an excuse to visit the French capital.

"I developed the book further when I undertook and completed a MLitt in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. Fellow students on the course and our lecturers encouraged me all the way - so I stuck at it and wrote the final page in 2012. It needed a couple rewrites after that and then literary agent Jenny Brown decided to add me to her list of authors. Jenny's efforts led to Saraband taking up the option to sell it.

"I've had lots of valuable support, without which Paris Kiss would still be only a dream in a notebook. The feedback so far has been hugely positive so I hope people buy it and enjoy reading it."

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