A Belfast author won a national award for her story of a mother on a transatlantic flight with her young daughter.
Lucy Caldwell won the 16th BBC National Short Story Award for All the People Were Mean And Bad.
The judges praised his “masterful story” and “profound truthfulness”.
Caldwell said she likes to set stories in “in-between spaces” like airports or car journeys where time seems to stand still for a while.
Taken from his collection, Intimacies, he told Good Morning Ulster that his publisher made history for the award, having previously been selected in 2012 and 2019.
“He said he loved this story, so I have to thank him,” he added.
“It’s a story I thought about for a long time before writing it.
“I think I’ve been rethinking it for maybe a year before I can finally hear the tone.
“As soon as I heard the tone, I think I wrote the first draft in a couple of days.”
Maternity and stories
With two children aged seven and four, Caldwell added that her experiences as a mother played a key role in her writing.
“I think as a writer you use what you have, you use the material you have on hand,” he said.
“I hadn’t written so many short stories before I had children, some of them didn’t work, I didn’t have enough technique and skill to make them work.
“But then I started having it.
“I couldn’t focus on a novel, a novel requires you to bring it out every single day.
“There was something about the story format that seemed to fit the short time I had and the urgency of time.
“So I found that motherhood was really conducive to my short story writing.”
‘Audacity and authenticity’
All the People Were Mean And Bad was praised by the judges for “masterful story”, “profound sincerity” and “skillful precision”.
Jury President James Runcie said, “Lucy Caldwell’s story has a wonderfully backed up confidence, boldness and authenticity.
“All five stories on our list were excellent, but this totally confident and moving piece of storytelling got the award.”
Caldwell beat the stories of novelist, playwright and screenwriter Rory Gleeson; Georgina Harding, writer selected for the Orange Prize; former post office clerk and creative writing teacher Danny Rhodes and journalist, novelist and Mastermind finalist Richard Smyth.
The winning writer receives £ 15,000 and the four finalists receive £ 600 each.
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