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Introducing our longlisted authors: Niamh Campbell

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Niamh Campbell

Meet the authors longlisted for the 2020 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award

Introducing our longlisted authors: Niamh Campbell

Niamh Campbell was born in 1988 and grew up in Dublin. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in The Dublin Review, 3:AM, Banshee, gorse, Five Dials, and Tangerine. She was awarded a Next Generation literary bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland, and annual literary bursaries in 2018 and 2019. She holds a PhD in English from King’s College London and has been a postdoctoral fellow for the Irish Research Council at Maynooth University. Her debut novel This Happy is forthcoming from Weidenfeld and Nicolson in June 2020. She lives and works in Dublin.

She is longlisted for the short story: Love Many

In Dublin, a woman recalls her experiences of dating multiple unsuitable men in the lead-up to finally meeting a man she feels it is worth committing to. However, this relationship only comes with a weighty emotional cost. Love Many is about a search for intimacy and understanding, and is a touching, emotive, truly modern love story.

What inspired you to write the story? Is it drawn from personal experience?

This story is drawn from personal experience – I wanted to write a wry tribute to an important friendship in my recent past by exploring it as a piece of fiction.

How does writing short stories differ from writing full-length fiction, and what do you enjoy about writing in the genre?

Short stories demand that the emotional heart and symbolic vocabulary of a story be expressed in a limited number of words, without the luxury of letting these develop over a long period. You have to simplify and get to the point without being heavy-handed. This is difficult. To be honest, I don’t like attempting it, and usually fail – but when it works the sense of achievement is like a little punch in the air.

How do you write? Longhand or typed? Why does your chosen method work for you?

Always typed. Since I first encountered word documents at twelve, and realised I could edit obsessively without being scolded for wasting paper, I have never looked back.

What’s your favourite short story of all time? Who would you cast to read it?

This tends to reflect weirdly on me but it’s Lavin, by John McGahern. A story of sexual development told through encounters with an old bachelor pervert. I’d cast Aidan Gillen.

Which short story collection by another author would you recommend?

Anne Enright’s The Portable Virgin is a work about modern Irish womanhood so swaggeringly ahead of its time – much rougher around the edges than her mature work – that it deserves far more attention than it gets.

Who would you cast to read the story you have entered?

Saoirse Ronan.

What are you reading now?

Handiwork, by Sara Baume, to soothe my soul during pandemic lockdown.

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