For those that don't know the Asham Award, it's a biannual short story competition for women. The closing date for next year's award is this Thursday, so I thought it an apt moment to plug last year's collection - "Waving At The Gardener" . I enjoyed the previous collection "Is This What You Want?" enough to submit a piece two years ago. Sadly I wasn't even longlisted, but my friend Catherine Chanter made it to the final 12 and deservedly so..
I first read her excellent story "A Summary of Findings" when she submitted it for critique before handing it as an assignment. The brief was to write a piece from at least two different points of view. Whilst most of us went for the standard two person piece, Catherine in typical bold fashion, wrote a story with a monstrous but hugely sympathetic central character, whose mistakes were coldly analysed by commentaries from various professionals writing reports to cover their backs after a terrible event has occurred. Catherine makes us completely understand Callie's difficulties and pain, yet also, how her failings as a mother contribute to the tragedy that unfolds. There is a wonderful word play (particularly on the multitude of uses for the word "unit") and a sense of impending danger that builds up to the dramatic conclusion.
And STOP PRESS I have just seen that Catherine has won the 2010 Yeovil Prize for Poetry with her poem The Foster Boy's Bedroom. If this was the one she shared in class, I'm not surprised. Well done Catherine!