Monday, 23 July 2012

Luke Bitmead Bursary. It was how I got published!

Legend Press are excited to announce the opening of entries for the 2012 Luke Bitmead Writer’s Bursary. The award was set up shortly after Luke’s death in 2006 by his family to support and encourage the work of fledgling novel writers. The bursary is now the UK’s biggest award for unpublished authors. The top prize is a publishing contract with Legend Press, as well as a cash bursary. Luke is the author of the brilliant White Summer (the first novel to be published by Legend Press), co-author of Heading South and his final novel The Body is a Temple will be published posthumously on 1st June 2012. Information about Luke can be found at Legend Press are pleased to be continuing this brilliant bursary for a fifth year, and hope to follow in the success of our previous winners Andrew Blackman (On the Holloway Road, published February 2009), Ruth Dugdall (The Woman Before Me, August 2010), Sophie Duffy (The Generation Game, August 2011) and J.R. Crook (Sleeping Patterns, July 2012). Submissions from writers will be accepted from today 1st May until 3rd August 2012 Only adult fiction is eligible for this bursary. The author must be a UK resident. The judging panel will consist of Luke’s family, Legend Press and authors - with the full panel announced shortly. Novels must be already completed before entry. Unfinished manuscripts will not be accepted. Your entry should be sent by email and must include the following: - The first 3-4 chapters of your novel - A detailed synopsis (max 1 page) – this should include the word count of your novel - A personal statement outlining why you would particularly benefit from the bursary. Submissions should be sent to: Entrants must be aged 16 or over. There is no upper age restriction for entry but all submissions must be from first-time, non-published authors – particularly those who are talented but whose personal or financial circumstances are making it especially hard for them to focus on writing as a career. The 2011 bursary was inundated with entries and we look forward to reading your work and discovering more talented authors, to join our fantastic alumni! For all enquiries please email

Friday, 20 July 2012

Love Sick

When I was in Sainsbury’s yesterday I bumped into an old friend. It was been two decades since I’d last seen her, when we stalked nightclubs together blagging free drinks from unsuitable men. I remembered that her boyfriend at the time, a very handsome guy with Kurt Cobain looks & matching melancholy, had asked her out and – when she said yes – promptly vomited. Being young (ish) and prone to love stories with an element of pain, I was always stunned that this single act of devotion had not been enough to sustain their relationship. What more, I wanted to know, could a man do if losing control of his body functions was not proof enough of love? I’ve always wanted love in my life, the kind with a capital L. Rows & recriminations, tears & tantrums and kisses passionate enough to make your mouth bleed. It’s a minor miracle that I’ve managed to stay with one man for 16 years, but luckily he never shouts, rarely swears and is an Alka Seltza to my more turbulent appetites. But the security and stability in my own life has not stopped me wanting to explore the pain and power of doomed love in my novels. As a writer I was initially unaware of the demands that haunted me, writing my narrative with an ear for the story, the dialogue, the characters but not the darker truths. Only later, when discussing the books with groups, did it become clearer that the same themes are there, the same pre-occupations. This isn’t unusual. My daughter’s favourite author, Jacqueline Wilson, has written droves of books about mother who abandoned their offspring for a variety of reasons. My own favourite, Margaret Attwood, re-visits again and again the subject of woman’s identity. Josephine Hart wrote a series of `damaged` women, wreaking havoc on innocent males. Love is at the heart of all of my novels, but it is not necessarily the most obvious story. In The Sacrificial Man the simplest, purest love is that of Lee and Alice. For Rose (The Woman Before Me) it is the love she feels for her mother. Ann in The James Version has a fatal love for William… it is these passions, thwarted as they are for various reasons, which leads the protagonist to unwise decisions and ultimate moral destruction. In Sainsbury’s I exchanged a few words with my old friends and we parted in the coffee isle. But what I really wanted to ask her was if she’d ever found another lover who vomited for her? Perhaps she would have thought it a weird question, or may even have forgotten it ever happened. But for me it was a love story.