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Industry Insight: Q&A with Deborah MacLaren (A LoveReading Very Short Story Award)


By LoveReading on 14th January 2020

This is the final instalment of our Industry Insight pieces focusing on the LoveReading Very Short Story Awards, but it won't be the last you hear from us about them! The shortlist for the LoveReading Very Short Story Award 2020 was decided on Friday the 10th January. Click here to view the full shortlist and take the opportunity to vote for your favourite!

I hope you've enjoyed the insight that each of the judges have provided, and to round things off we're hearing from our Managing Director Deborah Maclaren.

How would you sum up our 2019 award which was held for the first time last year?

Inclusive, wide-ranging, diverse, inspirational. We were delighted with the hundreds of entries we received in our inaugural year and the calibre of the stories. This was undoubtedly helped by our steadfast approach of making the award open to anyone; you do not need to be published and you do not need a track record to enter. The blind judging is a wonderful way of making this inclusivity so real for any author wanting to make their mark.

Were you pleased with the two pronged judging approach, the Judges and Peoples Choice?

Absolutely. You have no idea when you start out if the opinions of the two audiences will converge and choose the same story. As it happens they didn’t and the People chose another very different and very deserving winner from our Judging Panel. A fabulous result.

How impressed were you with our winning stories for 2019?

I enjoyed the whole shortlist. It’s incredible seeing the art form come to life in 1,000 words or less. It truly is a challenge creating something special out of so little a word count. I loved the fact that one winning story was written by a published author Susannah Crossman who gave some incredible advice to budding authors when telling us about her writing journey. And the other winner was someone whose entry was their very first short story. How wonderful, and well done Jan Stannard!

What are we doing differently for the 2020 award?

We are offering cash prizes this year and as mentioned before have a few changes to the judging team. But apart from that, we’re delighted how our first year went and are keen to build on that success and continue to celebrate the short story format and offer the opportunity for writers old and new to submit their latest creations. What’s not to love?

And your thoughts on our judges for this year?

We are delighted to have Maxim Jakobowski join the panel again alongside our Reviews Editor Liz Robinson. Maxim is a book world aficionado, has the most incredible knowledge and we are delighted he’s back on board. They are joined by three new judges that we are very excited about. One of our Editorial Experts joins the team; Joanne Owen has an impressive background in publishing as a writer, marketer and author herself and she has for many years been a trusted member of our review team for LoveReading and LoveReading4Kids. We like to involve a debut author on the panel and so we were pleased as punch when Rachel Edwards author of Darling, one of our 2018 Books of the Year agreed to be involved. It’s an absolute beaut of a book and we know she’s going to be a great addition to the team. And finally Matt Bates completes the judges; what Matt doesn’t know about books isn’t worth knowing. He’s been involved with dozens of book awards and has such an impressive CV that we know he’s going to add some real insight to the process especially with his love of the short story form.

We have asked for Very Short Stories again (600-1000 words), as a reader, what do you think is the most challenging aspect for an author?

The premise. The word count. I can be verbose with the best of them but being able to create a mood and draw the reader in, in such a short space of time rather than have the luxury of a plot and lengthy word count to play with character development. Rather them, than me. I just love reading them!

The judges are sitting in January, can you explain what happens next?

The judges have met to wade through the entries and select their shortlist. They each shared the stories that stand out for them individually and there was some hearty debate. Oh to be a fly on the wall in that room. At this point we will share the shortlist with our audience as there are two awards, remember - The Judge’s Award and The People’s Choice Award. This gives our readers the chance to read the stories and vote for their favourite. Both winners will be announced in February.

Click here if you would like to read our industry insight pieces from Rachel Edwards, Matt Bates, Joanne Owen and Maxim Jakubowski

Click here to see the shortlist for the LoveReading Very Short Story Awards and vote for your favourite.

If you enjoyed this article why not check out our other Industry Insight Features?

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