Kate Wickers, author of ”Sixteen” is one of our prize winner writers from Eyelands 10th international Short Story Contest (theme: Numbers). So here is what she answers to our quetions about the contest, her story, here writing career (actually she has just finished her first novel) and … Greece!
How does it feel to be a prize winner of an international short story contest based in Greece?
Well, it feels just wonderful, and I’m so pleased, after procrastinating, that I submitted my story. Also, after spending time alone as a writer, wondering if what I’m writing will ever actually be read, it’s lovely to make and feel a connectionwith the other writers who put their work forward to be judged.
I think it was your first time to submit a story here. How did you hear about the contest?
I heard about the contest from a friend, who I studied with during an MA in Creative Writing. She’d read the last anthology andsaid it was wonderful, so encouraged me to submit a story.
I can see from your bio that you have seen many of your stories published over the years. When did you start writing?
Well, forever. As a kid I’d rewrite fairy tales, often making myself the main protagonist. Through school, I won awards for creative writing and loved to write plays, and later I studied for a BA in Media and Communications, which gave me a taste of so many writing disciplines before I settled on journalism. As a journalist and travel writer, I have written professionally for over twenty years, and my features have been published in over sixty British and international publications, such as The Telegraph, The i, The Daily Mail and The Australian. Creative writing wise, I’ve only had a few published – a couple of short stories; a piece of flash fiction and a poem.
You have two books ready for publish now. Can you tell us few more things about them?
The first isa gritty novel set in London and follows the lives of three people before and after a terrorist attack on a train. The second is a murder-mystery adventure for middle grade readers set in Vietnam. Both are out on submission to publishers currently through my literary agent. It’s quite a nerve-racking time, especially given what a tough market it is at the moment but I’m trying to stay optimistic.
You wrote an excellent story. What was the inspiration for ‘Sixteen’?
Since visiting Dubrovnik to write a travel feature a few years ago, I’d been mulling over the idea of writing a creative story. I was touched by how the bullet holes from the Balkan wars have been left in the masonry of many of the buildings. It brings goose bumps to run a hand over these war-scars, which are now part of the city and the history of the people who live there. Each one of those bullet holes tells a story.
It was very touching the way you describe how Agneza, your main character, feels and amazing how you connect her story with numbers. I think the whole atmosphere is a kind of tragicomedy as we could say in Greek. Is that so?
Absolutely. Tragicomedy is a perfect way to describe this story. I think it is a human compulsion to search for humour when all around looks bleak.Perhaps that’s what keeps us going? Agneza is a drama queen (more than a little like me at that age), and I hoped to catch the essence of being a bored teenager waiting for something momentous to happen.
Have you ever been in Greece?
Yes, several times. The Cycladic islands in particular are a favourite destination from when I first island-hopped around them in my early twenties. I’ve just written a feature on Mykonos for a beautiful magazine called Lodestars Anthology, which will be published in their Greece issue later this year.
What are your plans as a writer for the future?
Novel number two is underway, set in Bristol where I grew up. It follows the lives of two best friends and the effect that each has on the other from teenage years into adulthood, and looks at how memory can play tricks, often distorting the truth to suit us. I’m also continuing with my work as a journalist, writing travel features as inspiration for when we can travel again.
Kate Wickers’ bio
My career as a travel writer began twenty-four years ago, while at university studying for a BA in Media & Communications, when a professor suggested that I should ‘write about something I love and get it published’. I took her advice and by the time I graduated I was writing regularly for The Sunday Telegraph, and have never looked back. My writing credits include features over sixty British and international publications including The Scotsman, The i, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Lonely Planet Magazine, The Financial Times, Conde Nast Traveller, The Australian and The Globe & Mail. For a Rough Guide special edition celebrating women in travel, called Women Travel, I contributed a chapter on Peru. My travel writing is studied for the module ‘Best Contemporary Travel Writers’ at the University of Virginia.
I have just completed my first novel and also my first children’s book, currently both are out on submission to publishers through my agent at Artelus Literary Agency.
”Sixteen” will be published in two different collections of the 10th international story contest, an English language version that will be published by Strange Days Books in October 2020. The prize winning stories of the international section will be translated into Greek and published alongside the Greek prize winning stories in a second book.