A young boy takes delight in his mother’s ability to shapeshift from one animal to another, only realising how odd she is when it comes to parents’ evening… The values of a small farming village are challenged by talk of a well-heeled community living on the other side of the lake that only one person can see… A writer researching the life of a 19th century child custody reformer discovers all too many parallels between that century and ours… The stories shortlisted for the 2019 BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University variously explore the sanctity of the home and family, and the instinct to defend what’s closest to us. Against a backdrop of danger or division, characters sometimes struggle – like the 15-year-old charged with looking after her siblings whilst her mother works through the night – and sometimes succumb – like the young woman who allows herself to be manipulated by an older, richer man. But in each case, these stories demonstrate what Nikki Bedi argues in her introduction: short stories are not a warm-up act, they’re the main event.
Edited by Nikki Bedi.
Featuring Lucy Caldwell, Lynda Clark, Jacqueline Crooks, Tamsin Grey & Jo Lloyd
Listen to an amazing library of short stories in the BBC Short Story Podcast
Prompt: Set a timer on for ten minutes. Then without taking your pen/pencil off the paper write freely for the whole ten minutes. See where your imagination takes you.