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Carys Davies

Carys Davies is the author of two collections of short stories, Some New Ambush and The Redemption of Galen Pike, which won the 2015 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the 2015 Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize and was shortlisted for the 2015 Edge Hill Short Story Prize and the 2015 Wales Book of the Year. She is also the recipient of the Royal Society of Literature’s V.S. Pritchett Prize, the Society of Authors’ Olive Cook Short Story Award, a Northern Writers’ Award, and a 2016-2017 Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. A collected edition of her stories recently came out in Australia and New Zealand, and The Redemption of Galen Pike will be published in 2017 in Canada, the United States, Macedonia and Turkey. Born in Wales, she lives in Lancaster.

Carys’s Top Tips:

  • Don’t feel you have to overcome your fear of writing: feeling afraid when you sit down to write is both normal and good, and the best stories are the ones you think you can’t possibly pull off. I am still afraid, every day, when I sit down to write, often to the point of feeling physically ill. I still feel that I don’t know how to do it and that’s because every story is different: you can never do the same things twice; every story has its own way of being told.

  • Learn to shake off the feeling that someone’s looking over your shoulder while you write – I have to remind myself all the time that no one’s there and I can write anything I want, however bad it might be in the beginning,

  • Never throw anything away. First and early drafts often have some of the best and freshest writing you do.

  • Don’t be disheartened when, over and over, you get very excited because you think you have something only to find that in a matter of days or months or years, it turns to dust, to ash on the page. I’ve learned that short stories do that to you all the time: they slip through your fingers. It goes with the territory, but I’ve also learned that without the failures you won’t get the ones that work – they draw unconsciously on everything you’ve been trying to do. The failures are the life-blood of the ones that end up working out.

  • The only way to figure out what a story is by writing it; I can’t imagine having ‘an idea’ for a story and then sitting down to execute that idea. I start with something, however small, and the story builds from there.

  • Be patient. Be really, really patient, and be aware that the moment you’re about to throw everything in the fire is often the moment when what you need to do is just press on, maybe jump ahead in the narrative. I’ve learned that there are days when you do nothing good for eight hours and then in five minutes at the end of it you’ll write three or four sentences that are worth something – and which you would never have written without those eight hours.

Carys’s Recommended Books: