In conversation with Jane O’Connor, winner of the Hysteria 2020 short story competition

Jane O’Connor was the winner of the Hysteria 2020 short story competition with her story The Flower Box published in the Hysteria 7 anthology. Jane is a writer of short stories and novels, as well as a researcher and reader in Childhood Studies at Birmingham City University. Her latest novel,’The Trial of Gwen Foley‘ is out now, July 2021 and published by @Bloodhoundbook

Listen to the interview and her reading of The Flower Box

Key takeaways from this episode:

  1. Jane began writing fiction during her second maternity leave. The novel she started with was runner up in a debut novel competition and published by Penguin, it’s called Needlemouse.
  2. The genre she writes in is called UpLit – for uplifting. Everything she writes has a happy ending, even if it’s not classically seen as that.
  3. Her central characters are often middle-aged women as she feels this population is very under-represented in modern fiction.
  4. As an academic she had to learn the craft of writing and that allowed her to move easily into the emotional writing you get with fiction.
  5. Her favourite quote is from John Yorke’s book Into the Woods: how stories work. “When we write fiction we go into the woods to find a part of ourselves that is lost and we bring is back in the form of a story.”
  6. The inspiration for her winning short story is Pansy, a dog she knew as a child.
  7. We’re often not aware of the immense treasure trove of images and experiences stored in our memories ready to come out in a story.
  8. The Flower Box was originally a longer story written for a magazine and was cut down to meet the 600 word limit of the Hysteria Writing Competition short story category.
  9. Her top tip is to make every work count.
  10. Good, well-written stories are a shared journey between writer and reader.
  11. Jane’s latest book The Trial of Gwen Foley will be published on 6th July 2021.

Mentioned in this episode:

Meet Jane

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