We are delighted to have signed Avril Joy’s second novel Sometimes A River Song. Set among the boat people on the White River in Arkansas in the 1930s, this poignant story chronicles Aiyana Weir’s spirited determination to break away from the condemned lives of the women who live in a community defined and dominated by a brutal patriarchy. Aiyana’s voice, at first uneducated, hesitant and unique, chronicles her secret pursuit of literacy – her only means of escape from the abuse of her father and from the man to whom she is casually given. Her grandmother, an archetypal figure steeped in wisdom and folk lore and her brother Lyle are her only allies as she painstakingly makes plans to leave the river she knows and loves.

Avril Joy was working with women prisoners as Writer in Residence when she won the Northern promise Award from New Writing North for her first novel, The Sweet Track which was published by Flambard Press in 2006. Two years later, she left HMP and has devoted her time to writing.

Avril has an impressive list of awards for her short stories:

In 2012 Millie and Bird won the Costa Short Story Award and has been published in The Story, Love, Loss and the Lives of Women – 100 short stories, chosen by Victoria Hislop.

In 2015 Millie and Bird and Tales of Paradise was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor award and published by Iron Press.

Other short stories have been shortlisted for: the Bridport prize 2014, the Manchester Prize for Fiction 2014, Granta Garden Memoir Writing Competition 2013, the Bristol Prize 2012.

Her stories have appeared in Structo Lit Magazine, the anthology Even Birds Are Chained to the Sky, the Newcastle Journal, The London Magazine and Roots anthology.

In 2015 How the River Breaks Your Heart was a semi-finalist in the Raymond Carver Short Story Competition.

Avril blogs regularly on her website and sends out a weekly newsletter about writing to over 150 subscribers.