Momaya Press Awards

September 1, 2011

The short story ‘Undertone’ was a finalist at the Momaya Press Awards.

Transcript of speech at award ceremony:

I’d like to thank Momaya Press for this opportunity to have my work read. Any writer given a single choice of fame, fortune or being widely read would choose to be read. But I won’t turn down any offers of fortune, just to make that clear.

My story in the anthology is called Undertone and tells the story of five people staying overnight in a theatre to find out if rumours of a ghost are true. Undertone is a ghost story. Undertone is also not a ghost story. Anyone who wants to find the ghost in this story and goes looking for it will find it. But, likewise, anyone who goes looking for a rational explanation for what happens will also find it. They’ll have to look a little longer, but it is there. The theatre director, looking to cash in on the haunting, is looking for a ghost. The sceptical sound technician aiding him is certainly not there looking for love. Both men find more than they bargained for at the theatre.

I published two novels many years ago, but always shied away from short stories, as I found them almost intimidating. How do you squeeze character development into such a tiny window? If a character dies then how do you ensure the audience cares if they have only had a few hundred words to get to know them? On my Mac, I have a black comedy about a man who sells snow to the Inuit online that bloated itself to an unwieldy size. I always used to get far too precious about removing large chunks of plot, but the challenge of short story writing has turned that around. I enjoy the surgical precision that it takes to get the text to flow as tightly as possible and still entertain as a story. This is my fourth short story in print and I have grown to love the art of the short story now. But, I will also be dusting off my third novel and gleefully taking a hatchet to it. Watch this space. It could get messy.

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