Alison MacLeod’s latest story collection, All the Beloved Ghosts (Bloomsbury) was shortlisted for Canada’s Governor General’s Award for Fiction and chosen as one of the Guardian’s ‘Best Books of 2017’. Her stories are often broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Her most recent novel, Unexploded, was long-listed for the 2013 Man-Booker Prize and, in 2016, she was a joint recipient of The Eccles British Library Writer’s Award. Alongside her writing, MacLeod has appeared at numerous literary festivals worldwide and has served as a judge for a variety of literary awards. She is Professor of Contemporary Fiction at the University of Chichester.
On what she looks for as a judge, she says: “In a great story, I love to see a writer’s understanding that seemingly small dramas can reveal the profound stuff of life; that ordinary events can reveal the extraordinary. Melodrama swamps a short story of course. If the story is about the extraordinary or the fantastical, I want to be shown the ordinary, enduring human truth within those events. I love a confident prose style, whether the language of the story is gritty and stark, or lucid and clear, or rich and rhythmic. I want the voice of a story to draw me in with its quiet force or alternatively, to grab me by the collar and to say, ‘Listen… This story matters'”.
Sarah Manning is a literary agent at The Bent Agency, where she specialises in adult commercial and accessible literary fiction, popular non-fiction and commercial young adult fiction. She began her career in publishing at Orion Publishing House working across their adult fiction and non-fiction paperbacks list. She then went on to work in script development for TV and film, where she learnt a great deal about editing and storytelling before moving to United Talent Agency. In 2017, she started at The Bent Agency.
On what she looks for as a judge, she says “I am excited to be a judge for the Brighton Prize and am looking forward to discovering new voices. If the main character jumps off the page and has a clear goal which keeps me reading, then I am hooked no matter the genre!”.
Erinna Mettler is a director of The Brighton Prize and a co-founder of Rattle Tales. Her first novel, Starlings, was published in 2011. Her short fiction has been short-listed for The Manchester Fiction Prize, The Bristol Prize, The Fish Prize and The Writers & Artists Yearbook Award. Erinna’s new collection of short stories about fame, Fifteen Minutes, is about to be published by Unbound and there may or may not be a monkey in a suit on the cover. Erinna is a mentor and editor and blogs regularly about short story craft at www.erinnamettler.com
On what she is looking for in a judge, she says: “I want to see stories that linger long after reading. There has to be something new and original, an authentic voice, a subject no-one has thought of before. Be as ‘out there’ as possible but keep it simple. The story should be suitable for a public reading and should therefore be easy to follow. I love cinematic writing; I want to be immersed in new worlds. Writers need to show that they have paid attention to detail too. I don’t want to see any silly mistakes as I’ve got to edit the stories for publication!”.