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Interview with Melvyn Bragg


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Photograph © Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Melvyn Bragg was one of six judges on the Sunday Times Short Story Award in 2011. He shares his experience...

What was your experience of judging the Award?

Wholly enjoyable. I had no idea that the short story was in such fine fettle.

How do you think the Award benefits the short story?

A competition at this level benefits by publicising quality.

What skills do you especially admire that are showcased in the short story form?

A mixture of ease and concision.

Why is the short story important today? What about it do you think should be most celebrated?

Short stories have been important since the Canterbury Tales. They’ll go in and out of fashion but so does everything else. What is to be most celebrated is the fact that so much good work is being done and recognised.

What would be your One Top Tip for writing short fiction?

I wish I knew!

What would be an example of 'the perfect short story' written by another writer?

Almost anything by Chekhov.

And finally .... which new short story writer should we look out for in 2019?

That’s what literary editors are for!

  • Melvyn Bragg was born in Wigton, Cumbria, and educated there and at Wadham College, Oxford. His broadcasting career began at the BBC in 1961 and soon afterwards he published his first novel. He worked on the arts programme Monitor with Huw Wheldon in the mid-1960s; during this time, he began writing novels, set mostly in his native Cumbria. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society and The British Academy, and was given a Peerage in 1998.

Anthony Doerr took the top spot in 2011 with The Deep. Read his winning story here and discover more about the judges that year here.


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