From Criticism

On Pincushion / Matt Rader

In the late spring of 2017, a friend and I walked up a local mountain known, in English, as Pincushion. At the summit you look out over Okanagan Lake, a deep freshwater fjord, as it turns southward into the land of antelope brush. Beyond the lake, on the opposite shore, is Okanagan Mountain, and then…

Writing ‘Arrest Me, For I Have Run Away’ Stevie Davies

George Eliot said that the novel, ‘like crystalline masses … may take any form, and yet be beautiful; we have only to pour in the right elements – genuine observation, humour, and passion.’ I have always loved the way Eliot angles this image of crystal masses: the freedom it accords to the novelist. Her remark picks up my memory of schoolgirl experiments in the chemistry lab: we left a dish containing a solution of chemicals; when we came back a week later, it had branched into a multifaceted cluster of crystals, in a structure amazing to the imagination.

Record of a Moment / Jo Mazelis photographs Shani Rhys James

In February I went to visit the artist Shani Rhys James to talk about her work ahead of her forthcoming exhibition in London. I had been asked to write the introduction to the catalogue so I was excited to see both the new work and her workspace. I arrived at Welshpool station to find Shani…

An Interview with Tom Vowler

Dan Coxon Ask five writers what it is that makes a great short story, and you’ll probably receive five different answers. Some will focus on form, others on characters, or plot. Some will be all about the language. If there’s one point that they’ll all agree on, it’s that a short story should be concise.…

 Writing ‘Fogarty’ Jaki McCarrick

Jaki McCarrick discusses her Pushcart Prize-nominated short story, ‘Fogarty’, published in Issue Eight. A few years ago, on a flight to Paris, I read an in-flight magazine feature about an ex-Naval Seal who gave survival courses to business people. As I read, it dawned on me that a survival course would make a great basis…

How I Wrote ‘The Sadness The Weirdness’ – Toby Litt

After the first draft, I was glad to see I was writing a haphazardly global story, where the narrator shambles from here to there in pursuit of something that surely can’t be love. He tries really hard to make it love, but it’s more likely the desperation of needing something to feel desperate about.

On Writing ‘Framing Ilva’ – George Sandison

The landscape of Southern Italy coexists with myth. Antiquity is commonplace, and life there centres around history in a way I envy. It’s easy to romanticise the food, the weather and the sweltering, lazy summers, but my fascination with the region goes deeper. I was born in Hertfordshire, the birthplace of the new town project,…

How I Wrote ‘Above Tree Line’ – Melissa Fu

I drafted ‘Above Tree Line’ in the first class I took when I decided to start writing more seriously. At the beginning of the course the instructor asked us, ‘What do you need to write about?’ I need to write about that night on Santa Fe Baldy with Bob. This story signalled a change away from…