There are two days left to enter the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award 2016, an international literary prize that enables poets and short fiction writers to showcase their work to a wider audience. We speak with Corinne Demas, this year’s fiction winner with her short story Thanksgiving, about her literary career.
A: How has winning the fiction prize affected you?
CG: Winning a fiction prize is always heartening, no matter where you are in your career. Writing, as we all know, is a lonely pursuit, and what we crave is a caring, intelligent audience. When you win a prize it means that someone (and perhaps even more than just one person) not only put care into reading what you wrote, but connected with it in a meaningful way.
Different stories appeal to different readers, and there are certainly some excellent stories that may have limited appeal, but are moving and memorable to a few readers.
A: As part of the prize for 2015, you were connected with Christine Green Authors’ Agent. What opportunities has this opened up?
CG: Christine Green has been a marvellous resource. I’ve sent her several of my published books that have not yet been published in the UK as well as a pile of manuscripts that have not yet been in print, including dozens of short stories. She is still reading through my work, and has been a supportive and insightful reader. I’ve actually printed out some of her comments and stuck them up on my bulletin board.
She’d written about one of my short stories “it took my breath away” which is about the most glorious thing that a writer can hear. I am hoping that we will be working together in an official capacity in the future.
A: If you were to publish work in the UK, what work would you hope to release?
CG: I would love to have my novel The Writing Circle released in the UK, as well as my two now (sadly) out of print short story collections, Daffodils or the Death of Love and What We Save For Last.
A: Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
CG: I find inspiration everywhere – in conversations I overhear, faces I see, the situations and relationships of people I know or knew, items in the newspaper, and of course, my dreams. In the fiction writing seminar I teach at Mount Holyoke College I tailor my assignments around different kinds of inspiration. I want my students to have the experience of taking personal material and shaping it into something public, as well as taking public material and making it into something personal.
A: What is great about writing a short story?
CG: Poe described the short story as a piece of fiction that could be read in a “single sitting.” One of the pleasures of writing a short story is that you can write it in a single sitting as well. A story can grow and simmer in your mind for hours, days, or even longer, and then you can sit down, plunge yourself into the world of your story, and write it through from start to finish without breaking the magic.
A: Do you use the short story format as a way into full fiction writing or as a standalone literary form?
CG: A few of my stories have developed into longer work, but mostly they retain the integrity of a short story. The size of the canvas is entirely different, and there are things that a short story can do beautifully that don’t work in a novel.
A: Do you have any new projects lined up for 2015?
CG: Of course! A new novel is in the works and many short stories.
For more information on the work of Corinne Demas, visit www.corinnedemas.com
Enter your writing into the Aesthetica Art Prize by 31 August www.aestheticamagazine.com/creativewriting
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1. Alexandra Charlotte Pullen, Paper City (2014).