Meet the authors longlisted for the 2020 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award
Introducing our longlisted authors: Edward Hogan
Edward Hogan’s new novel, The Electric, will be published by John Murray, in August 2020. His previous novels include Blackmoor, which won the Desmond Elliott Prize, and The Hunger Trace. Ed is from Derby, and now lives in Brighton. He works for the Open University. His recent short stories have been highly commended in the Sean O’Faolain International Short Story Competition, and the Costa Short Story Award.
He is longlisted for the story: Single Sit
This is a wry, touching and funny story about an ageing, divorced conservatory salesman who has a one-night stand with a rogue client – his only prospect for the day. As events take a potentially dangerous turn, involving his client’s sleepwalking son, Frank seeks to make the situation right. As Frank grapples with complex thoughts on his achievements, future and current situation – and the inevitability of yet another lost sale – this is both a hopeful and tragic portrait of someone at a crossroads in their life.
What inspired you to write the story? Is it drawn from personal experience?
I walk and cycle on the South Downs. Last year, in the heatwave, it had an otherworldly atmosphere I wanted to capture – the parched fields and the wind farms in the sea. Also, I did briefly work as an in-store canvasser for a conservatory firm. My dad sold windows and conservatories for years, alongside his successful semi-professional football career. Frank is certainly not based on him, though. My dad’s Irish, for a start, and he would have made the sale.
How does writing short stories differ from writing full-length fiction, and what do you enjoy about writing in the genre?
I love the fact that you can finish a draft of a story while you’re still wrapped up in that urgent initial impulse, even if it then takes years to get it absolutely right. I think brevity can encourage boldness and risk-taking.
How do you write? Longhand or typed? Why does your chosen method work for you?
Longhand to start with, at 5am, before the kids wake up, and I have to start the day job. Sometimes I do poetry writing exercises – my poetry is terrible, but writing in lines and images can throw up helpfully strange associations, and give you a story idea.
Which short story collection by another author would you recommend?
Last Evenings on Earth by Roberto Bolaño.
What’s your favourite short story of all time? Who would you cast to read it?
Probably Brokeback Mountain – for its technical brilliance and emotional power. I’d really like to hear Annie Proulx read it, actually.
Who would you cast to read the story you have entered?
Good question. Well, Frank is a southern man, and Mrs Cortez is a northern woman. So maybe Paddy Considine would be a good compromise.
What are you reading now?
I’ve read hundreds of short stories over the last couple of years. The two collections I’m reading at the moment are Lot, by Bryan Washington, and Joan Silber’s Ideas of Heaven, recommended by my friend, Dave.