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The 2009 Momaya Annual Review
Writing is an exploration, of the world in which we live and more importantly, our reaction to that world. Thus in some ways it was ironic that the theme for this year was “Alienation”. Yet, often we can feel alienated from our lives, sometimes especially in times of crisis. In this edition you will find some fascinating stories: a girl goes to cash her dead junkie boyfriend’s lottery ticket, a wife learns too late that her husband has left the house (and this world) forever, a child struggles to understand the subtext of words among adults (who never seem to use words in their strict dictionary sense). We hope that when you read this collection, you will recognise the emotions described in these stories and feel that connection with the writers – as at some point, we all do feel alienated.
Encouraging Your Contributions
We hope that this collection of stories inspires you to submit your story to our competition.
Our 2,500 word limit is about five pages typed – it’s something you can write during your lunch break, instead of watching TV after dinner, or by getting up a bit earlier on a weekend. Submit your story to Momaya Press and someone who doesn’t know you (that is – not your mom!) will read your story, will reflect upon it, and make a considered judgement on whether your story should be published in this year’s annual review. It’s an incredible validation of your ability. More than that, it’s a thing of beauty to share your vision with the world.
We'd like to thank the many readers and writers who have supported Momaya Press over the past five years, and we encourage everyone who reads these words to submit their short story to our competition. The theme for 2010 is “Family” and we look forward to reading your stories.
Interviews with the The Winning Authors
Katherine Tamiko Arguile is Anglo-Japanese and grew up in Tokyo straddling two traditions. Her writing is fuelled by cultural disorientation, the restlessness of a life spent roaming the world and the sublimation of her urge to write full time in order to pay the bills. Nevertheless, she started writing in primary school and doesn’t plan to stop. Katherine is currently working on a novel, a book of prose poems and a number of short stories. She recently emigrated with her husband to Australia after seventeen colourful years in London. Born in 1967, she has finally made up her mind to ‘put her writing out there’. Her first attempt has earned her first place in the 2009 Momaya Press Short Story competition and she is now taking her first wobbly steps towards becoming a full time writer.
What was the inspiration for your story?
Some years ago I was deeply affected by watching a Japanese news report similar to the one in my story. These salarymen had subjugated their lives to the corporate organisations for which they worked, putting their families and authentic selves second, only to find that a twist of economic fate wiped out the identities they'd created for themselves around their jobs. That the loss of a job was so shameful that these men chose to kill themselves rather than be a burden on their families seemed particularly terrible to me. It also made me wonder who these people were outside of their working identities.
Many of my short stories are about people who suppress their creative and imaginative selves in order to live the life they feel is expected of them. Haiku was inspired by the memory of this news story. After thinking about it again, a character popped into my head: a typical Japanese businessman who'd hidden his poetic self from those closest to him throughout his life. I thought how awful it might be for someone like that to lose the corporate identity they'd been hiding behind and what the consequences of this might be.
I suppose, too, that the story alludes to my own struggle as a writer. I'm torn between the need for a stable income - to 'do the right thing' - and the need for time and mental space to be able to express myself creatively. I'm sure this will resonate not only with writers and artists, but with all those who wish they had the freedom to live a more creative life. Haiku was a kind of warning to myself, to live a more authentic life, to put my writing out there and not keep it hidden away in boxes.
What does it mean to you to be published by Momaya Press?
It's a big deal. This is the first time I've ever entered a writing competition. I've never even attempted to send any of my writing for publication anywhere before. Until now, my stories have been squirrelled away, unseen. I suppose I kept the stories to myself so I could suppress this side of me, making it easier to 'do the right thing' - see answer to question 1 above! For some reason, I just decided to give this competition a go and thank goodness I did. Being published by Momaya Press has given me the validation I need, to know that my writing is appreciated. It's given me the strength to push on and send more of my writing out there, to keep fighting to find the time and energy to write. So thank you for awarding first prize to my story! As it says on your website - as a writer I have found my voice. Momaya has helped me find my audience.
What are you plans for writing in the future?
I'm working on two books - a longer piece of fiction and a shorter compilation of short prose poems. I've just completed another short story which seems to be wanting to turn itself into a book. I'm now at a point where I have to decide how I can make more time and find more energy to work these through to completion. I know that eventually I'll have to reassess my working life so I can find a way to write longer each day. For now though, I'll keep working away at my books and hope to have a synopsis or two and some chapters to send out by next year. I'll be entering more competitions - what have I got to lose? There's one here in Australia where winners have the opportunity to work through their manuscripts with publishers. I'd love to try for that. In the long term, I'd like to be writing full time so I can keep the flow going with my books and stories. I have a constant need to write. I've written ever since I was a little girl and I'll carry on doing so until my mind turns to dust. Whether I end up a successful, published author or not, when I get to the end of my life I want to look back and know that at least I gave it my best shot.
Momaya Judge Kay Peddle's reaction to "Haiku."
Raymond Carver once described himself as "inclined toward brevity and intensity." The renowned American short-story writer is famed for his stark and unadorned prose - cutting to the bone of the story and of human interactions through the economical use of words. Haiku displays a similar approach - taut, pared-down and perfectly controlled prose paints an evocative portrait of a marriage - and of a tragedy. Its subtle approach lures the reader into a calm, quiet marital bedroom one morning - two paragraphs are spent packaging a 30-year marriage into a neat bundle, and then, one sentence unravels it all at once. What I loved about Haiku, and what makes it special and compulsively readable is the carefully constructed and beautifully formed world it pulls you into - a world that should be foreign to a western reader - Japan - yet is painfully familiar in its unearthing of human emotion and the universal realities of life: rejection, betrayal, humiliation, love, routine, work and marriage. I found myself leafing back to the beginning of the story once I reached the half-way point, thinking "no, no, no!" Paralysed, you watch the tragedy unfold in front of you in one perfect sentence: "One way to Kamakura please." The reality dawns on you as soon as it dawns on the protagonist and with almost the same emotional intensity - the reality of a wife's heartbreak, of a nation's quiet embarrassment and of one man's lonely life.
Christine Sarah Cox has loved writing stories ever since she was a child. As an adult, she became busy bringing up children, working as a hypnotherapist/ counselor, and teaching English as a foreign language, but she continued to write from time to time whenever she could. She has had a few magazine articles published, and a couple of her short stories have been placed in competitions. She recently self-published a children’s novel, “The Rainbows and the Secrets” and also collaborated with her sister and brothers on: “The Hole in the Hedge,” a book of memoirs about growing up in a rather eccentric family that stood out like a sore thumb in the respectable neighborhood where they lived. She lives in Hastings, England with her husband. She has four grown-up children, six grandchildren, and two more due to arrive shortly!
My inspiration for writing the story. I think it was remembering my childhood frustration at trying to look up words like 'harlot' etc in my dictionary and not finding them there. It was also my mother's evasiveness about anything to do with sex, which she sometimes combined with a knowing smile, so that I knew she was keeping me in ignorance, and at the same time, (it seemed to me) laughing at my ignorance. We did have some neighbours whowere gay, and her attitude to them was much like the attitude of Peter'smother in the story. The story itself is pure fiction, however.
I am delighted to be published by Momaya Press. It's very encouraging to know that you like my work.
I intend to write more short stories, and put them in for competitions, and hopefully get some of them published. But what I really want is to write novels for children. I find writing for children very enjoyable. I have self-published a children's novel: "The Rainbows and the Secrets". My daughter read it to her class of 9-10 year-olds, and found it useful for work in Personal and Social Education. She suggested I write a workbook to accompany it, to provide ready-made activities for teachers to use. I have just completed the workbook, and I intend to try selling the two books on Amazon.
In the past year David Gill has had short stories published by The Frogmore Papers, Smink Works (Australia) Anthology Three Types Of Love, Litro and Tales Of The Decongested (anthology, volume 2, 2009). He has also read four stories at Foyles, in London. He works with vulnerable people in Hackney and Brixton.
I write about things around me: where I live - Hackney; where I work - Brixton, where I was brought up: Cardiff.
It is great to be published by Momaya Press. A prestigious award and the prize money will come in handy. I don't know many other writers - I live and work outside of that - so to see my story in the Momaya Press Review does show that my work has appeal.
I have started to work on a novel. It grew out of the characters and issues my stories address. So: a durex busting romance. I aim to finish by summer 2010.
Richard Bardwell is a thirty-four year old Londoner obsessed with writing. He has written two (asunpublished) novels; The Engraver, about how the dead decide the fate of the living, and Temple Four, about a group of students kidnapped in Guatemala after one of them kills a local.
Murder features a lot in my writing. Although I've never killed anyone, I will admit to having worked in a radio station not a million miles away from the one in my story. Working the late shift I became very aware of its cabin fever environment, just phone op and presenter versus the night time voices of London. What if one of the more off-the-wall callers – alienated by the airwaves – were to find their way into the radio station after dark?
I’m thrilled to know my work is to be in print for the first time. It’s a huge boost and I can’t wait to hold a copy in my hand. It has spurred me on, encouraging me to push my writing further. Now I’ve totally got the bug for it.
Having a short story selected for the Momaya Annual Review 2009 has given me the extra drive needed to take my novel Temple Four up a level. That’s the big plan now, to see it published.
Douglas Bruton is both a graduate of Aberdeen University and of Edinburgh College of Art. He won the HISSAC short story competition in 2008 with ‘Barken, Mad Sometimes’ and has had competition success with Fish Publishing and in the Bridport Prize. He has also had short fiction published in a wide range of literary magazines both online and in print.
The story is part of a novel I have planned out in my head. Annie is a character who is socially isolated, at first by the circumstances of her birth, then by the poverty she lives under and later by geography and poor education. In this story we see Annie as a child at school sometimes. She has no friends to start with. Then she does. One girl takes Annie under her wing. They go to church together on Sundays, both falling in love with the young Father Cuthbert and fantasising about what his kisses would taste like. Then [UTF-8?]Annie sees Father Cuthbert with her friendâ€™s mother. They are lovers. And Annie is seen by the woman. Annie loses her friend and cannot tell what she knows. She ends this 'chapter' isolated again and unwilling to be at school any more.
I wrote this as a couple of flashes at first, just setting my fingers free on the keyboard of my computer and seeing where that took Annie. Looking back I wonder now where the ideas came from. They are by no means original, of that I feel sure. I am certain there must be stories or films where a child sees a priest with a woman doing what a priest should not. I cannot think of a specific example, but it feels like familiar territory. [UTF-8?]Isnâ€™t there a song about Father Christmas kissing mummy? Was that somewhere in my head when I was writing this? Who can say? But what I do think is real is Annie and what I feel for her when I read her story.
For the future, Annie's whole story may eventually be written. I have a children's book launched on September 10th called 'The Chess Piece Magician'. I have two other adult novels mapped out and one already at 40,000 words. I also have a new children's novel making sparks in my head. So there's plenty for me to be getting on with in my writing.
Ally Chisholm is a 36 year old student and writer. She is currently studying an MA in Creative Writing at Brunel University. She grew up in Farnham in Surrey and lived and worked in North London for over ten years.
Sophie Coulombeau was born in London and grew up mainly in Manchester. After achieving her BA in English Literature from Oxford University, she went on to travel in Europe, Canada and South America, and did postgraduate work at the University of Pennsylvania under a Thouron Fellowship. She currently lives in London with her boyfriend, working for the civil service by day and scribbling by night.
“Day One” is about liberation. When a person has been emotionally
imprisoned, oppressed or blackmailed for any length of time, release from that state can transform the way they view the world and enable them to rediscover joy in the simplest of things. In my story, the main character's determination to enjoy her first day after the end of an abusive relationship is taken to something of an extreme. I'm interested in how readers will feel about the two characters, where their sympathies will lie when they consider the chain of events that led to the story's climax and who, if anyone, they think is to blame.
I'm absolutely over the moon to be published by Momaya Press. I have only been writing seriously for about a year, and this will be my first print publication. The thrill of seeing my first story in print is something I'll never forget.
I write mainly short stories at the moment, and am currently working on a collection entitled “The Carnival”, which addresses the idea of freedom from unwritten rules. Mikhail Bakhtin wrote that the ancient tradition of carnival 'celebrated temporary liberation from the prevailing truth and from the established order', and I want to explore the forms in which this state exists in the twenty first century. I also write poetry and am planning a novel. My placement in the Momaya Short Story Competition hasgiven me new confidence to forge ahead with these projects, and I am very grateful for this.
John Davy is completing an MA in Creative Writing at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge while working part-time in the NHS as a child psychologist. He is working on a collection of short stories and two novels, with a particular interest in themes of love and loss, and the gaps between communication and desire.
I've spent a lot of time around hospitals, both in my private life and as a professional psychologist and psychotherapist in the NHS. I've always been struck by the amazing capacities of people to cope with illness and loss in a thousand different inventive ways, to keep on living day to day in ways that can still satisfy in the context of dreadful events and impending doom. And along with that, I'm very curious about the artificial, conventional divide that gets set up between the patient and the professional, the sick and the well. We're much the same, under the different masks we wear. The undead Dr. Gould in my story may seem odd, but actually there are many people like him in hospitals, doing the best job they can within their limits, struggling to reconcile a helping role with personal pain and loss. It's love that tips the balance for him in the end.
I've written and published non-fiction many times before as a psychologist, but it feels quite different claiming an identity as a writer of fiction, both daunting and exciting. Being published by Momaya Press feels like an important measure of recognition, but also a kind of pledge to myself, a public commitment, that I will be writing and sharing much more. This is one step on a long road.
I'm completing an MA in Creative Writing at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge in October 2010. This has helped me make good progress with a novel about sex and death, love and loss, and the ways in which those two binaries are similar but different. It's a story about a couple who lose a baby by cot death, then struggle with feelings and relationships as they try to conceive another child through IVF. It's a love story of sorts, but there's much sadness along the way. I'll be sending that out to agents in 2010, while continuing to write some short stories for competitions.
Sarah Evans is 44 years old and lives in Welwyn Garden City with her husband. After studying physics at University, she moved into economics and a career in telecoms from which she is currently taking a well-earned break. The desire to write emerged out of nowhere several years ago and she has had a number of stories published in various magazines and competition anthologies, including: the Bridport Prize 2008, Happenstance, Earlyworks and Writers' Forum. She is part of a small writers' circle who meet regularly to provide criticism and support.
No simple answer to this. Often themes and subjects for stories emerge like a word association game. One idea leads to another and another, and finally I end up with something nothing like the original.
This was my third attempt at entering the Momaya Press story competition, and the first time I've been placed. Hopefully I can take this as encouragement that I am slowly developing.
I plan simply to keep writing.
Alyn Fenn lives by the sea in Schull, Co. Cork., Ireland. She is married with three sons, aged 24, 15 and 11. She has a Master's Degree in Fine Arts and has been painting for twenty-five years. Four years ago she took up writing poetry and short stories. She has been published in the SHOp poetry magazine, Stony Thursday, Acumen, and Borderlines. She has won several prizes for her short stories, among them The William Trevor International Short Story Competition 2007, and is a runner up in the Sean O Faolain Short Story Competition 2009.
Inspiration for the story “On This Night” was a note jotted down one day last summer while sheltering from the rain at a country market: 'write story about a woman who brings a teenage boy into her house for a soft boiled egg, it ends with him robbing her at knifepoint.'The woman in the story is based on someone I know, but the story is total fiction.
Janis Freegard has won several prizes for her short stories, including the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award in 2001. Her work has appeared in a wide range of magazines, journals and anthologies, such as the Listener (NZ), Landfall (NZ), Cadenza (UK), Brittle Star (UK) and Home: new short short stories by New Zealand writers (Random House New Zealand, 2005). Several of her stories have been broadcast on radio. Janis also writes poetry and was one of three poets featured in AUP New Poets 3 (Auckland University Press, 2008).
Two things inspired this story: a childhood fascination with mermaids and an unease at the way scientifc advances (in this case in the genetics field) can be misused through human greed and vanity.
I am English by birth but have lived in New Zealand most of my life and most of the stories I've had published have been in New Zealand journals. It's great to find success in a UK-based competition and I'm looking forward to reading all the other stories.
Currently I am working on my second novel, while looking for a publisher for the first. I am also putting the finishing touches to a poetry collection, writing the occasional short story and updating my blog.
Dorothy Fryd is a writer and performance poet, who has been published by BRAND Literary Magazine, Leaf Books and Awen Poetry. She has been shortlisted for (and published by) 2009 Canterbury Poet of the Year. She has performed her work at various venues in London, including the Roundhouse, the Poetry Café (Poetry Podcast Launch), the Write to Ignite Hackney Word Festival at Hackney Empire Theatre and Brixtongue Art Gallery. She teaches poetry and creative writing workshops in primary/secondary schools and has just finished working on the 2009 Lynk Reach London Teenage Poetry Slam Project and Camden Youth Slam Project. Dorothy also studies Creative Writing at London South Bank University.
“Talent Under My Tree” is a story of independence and reconciliation which was inspired by looking at my garden and realising that one could create a whole world with imagination which we often neglect.
It means a great deal to me to have received an honourable mention in this competition, as I am hoping to publish a book of short stories later in the year. To receive recognition from respected judges is much appreciated.
Aside from the book of short stories, I am currently working on a play and finishing my degree in Creative Writing. I am constantly writing poetry and I perform often in various venues in the country, as well as teach Poetry Workshops in Primary and Secondary Schools.
After a school long career as a self confessed drama queen, Nicole Merx completed a degree in Performing Arts in 1998. It was during this time, she came to the conclusion that she enjoyed writing more than acting. She spent the next few years writing for theatre in education. She is currently completing her Masters Degree in Primary Teaching and continues to write for fun and fulfillment.
Nimer Rashed won the Sir Peter Ustinov Scriptwriting Award at the International Emmy Awards, and was also a winner of the decibel Penguin Prize, for which he had a short piece of non-fiction published in a Penguin anthology. In 2008 he wrote and directed a short film, which is currently touring film festivals.
When living in my old flat I used to sit on my balcony and watch an old woman across the street twitching her curtains and looking out at the world. The woman in the story is directly inspired by this woman, who'd watch me watching her Rear Window style as each of us gazed out, framed by our boxes as we each wondered about the mysterious world of the stranger across the street.
It's always a great feeling to be selected for publication, and hopefully being chosen by Momaya Press will encourage me to write more! I haven't been writing as much prose as I would like lately, but this is a lovely sign of encouragement.
God laughs at those who make plans, so I'll just say that at this stage there are tentative possibilities afoot...
Raised on the Isle of Wight, Chris Williams has lived in Mexico, France, Spain, Germany and Belgium. He now lives near Rome but is a part-time psychotherapy student in London and an interpreter in Brussels. His short stories have been placed and shortlisted in several international competitions. Between (and sometimes on) budget flights around Europe, he is working on a novel.
The story arose from my part-time studies in psychotherapy. I wanted to show the way that different people can perceive the same event, and how this perception changes when the event is recounted as a story, and changes again with the listener's own understanding.
I'm thrilled to be included in the Momaya anthology. I've been writing for several years and am finally achieving a degree of recognition - this year my work will be published in two separate anthologies.
I'm currently working on a novel and would like to give writing as much time and space in my life as possible.
Who were The Momaya 2009 Judges?
Andy Callus is a newswire journalist who works as a copy editor for Reuters in London's Canary Wharf. He began his working life in 1980s Fleet Street, and has reported for Reuters and other newswires in Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore and Hanoi.
Nina Steiger is the Writers’ Centre Director at Soho Theatre. She has worked as a director, dramaturg and script reader in the US and UK, developing new work by established and emerging writers with such companies as Ensemble Studio Theatre, New York Stage & Film, Hartford Stage, Manhattan Theatre Club, and others. She has been Producing associate for Youngblood, The Playwrights’ Unit and proto-type theater. As a playwright, she is the recipient of the Clark Lewis Prize and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation commission for The True Facts as well as a developmental bursary for Slangrivier which was premiered at the NY International Fringe Festival.
A former Haymarket Journalist Of The Year (2000), Matt Allen is a freelance music and football writer and author for Harper Collins Publishing. He has previously worked as a Features Editor (Q magazine), Associate Editor (FourFourTwo magazine), Editor (Q Glastonbury Daily, The Tottenham Hotspur Opus, The Diego Maradona Opus) and Books Review Editor (Q magazine). His work appears in Q, Mojo, Company, The Guardian, Loaded, GQ, and FourFourTwo. His 2005 book, The Crazy Gang (Highdown) was a Sunday Times Book Of The Week.
Kay Peddle was born in South Africa and moved to the UK in 2006. She has worked at a small South African literary press as a copy-editor, completed an MA in International Publishing at Oxford Brookes University, an internship at The World Bank and has done reading for a leading literary agency based in Oxford. She is currently an assistant editor at Random House.
Thank You for Attending the Momaya 2009 Awards!
Momaya Press would like to thank all the authors who submitted their work this year. We appreciate the time, effort, and heart that you each put into your stories. Every one was unique, every one was special. We encourage you all to keep on writing, for through writing you are an integral part of the divine cycle of creation, which keeps our planet’s pages turning. We applaud and thank our wonderful judges Andy, Nina, Matt and Kay. Without you, the review would not be complete.
We would also like express gratitude to our families, for their everexpanding love and support, especially all the new babies this year that are making our hearts glow. Near or far, you know who you are. Thank you, thank you, thank you!