I can’t remember a time I wasn’t scribbling down random lines, but I do remember the first time I completed a story. I was so chuffed I sent it to the Macallan Scotland on Sunday Competition, at that time the biggest short story prize in Europe. When they phoned to say I was on a shortlist of six, I thought it was a prank and hung up. Twice. Thankfully they persisted and patiently explained it was no joke. The awards ceremony was a live radio broadcast in front of an audience. No one warned me about the interviews. The other writers all spoke confidently about their themes and subtexts. I managed to mutter ‘Aye, I worked in a chippy’. Embarrassing, but I still won second prize and my chippy experience has obviously stayed with me since I’ve returned to it more than once in fiction. The winner that year was Michel Faber, just another struggling writer then, albeit one with a stash of fantastic manuscripts tucked under his mattress. I had nothing to show for myself beyond a few battered notebooks. Radio 4 took my next story for their Storyline program. Another was shortlisted for the Asham Award. Then life happened – lots of it.
My wonderful twins are now eleven. Three years ago when the parts of my brain Missing in Action gradually reappeared I started writing again. A few more stories published and a shortlisting for the Manchester Fiction Prize 2009 convinced me it was time to tackle a novel.
Nothing is Heavy is the result. The first five chapters were shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2011:
“A unique authorial voice and a captivating account of the lives of three unforgettable characters, all of whom have secrets and challenges to face. Totally unpredictable, hilarious in places, unforgettable.”
Nothing is Heavy takes place on one Saturday night and is told from the point of view of a chip shop worker, a pole-dancer and a man in a monkey costume. It deals with some serious stuff but aims to make you laugh more than cry. To steal a quote from Maya Angelou: ‘I am serious, so I laugh a lot.’
You can find out more by visiting my website: www.vickijarrett.com