Cornish folklore helps author to another award
A Cornish writer whose debut collection was published to critical acclaim in 2012 has been named runner-up in this year's BBC National Short Story Award.
Lucy Wood, from Stratton, near Bude, impressed a panel of judges led by journalist and arts critic Mariella Frostrup with Notes From the House Spirits. It was taken from her book, Diving Belles, a series of modern tales inspired by Cornish folklore.
Lucy, who received a prize of £3,000, is no stranger to literary accolades, having previously been long-listed for the Frank O'Connor Short Story Award and the Dylan Thomas Prize, short-listed for the Edge Hill Prize and winner of a Somerset Maugham Award.
A former pupil at Budehaven school, Lucy went on to read English Literature at Exeter University, which she followed up with a Masters degree in Creative Writing. As part of her MA dissertation, she decided to revisit stories from Cornish folklore and in particular the work of Robert Hunt in his Popular Romances Of The West of England, along with William Bottrell's Traditions And Hearthside Stories Of West Cornwall.
"I have always enjoyed books and reading, right from when I was very young, and I have written from quite a young age," she said.
"Folklore, for obvious reasons, is often seen as being twee, clichéd and catering only for the tastes of tourists. But within these older stories lie some gems and I wanted to look at these afresh.
"I wanted to look again at those original stories and draw out the more complex, more human and darker elements of them and make my own stories from that, placing them in a modern setting. Rather than retelling them, I wanted to pick out elements that really interested me and that could become new stories in their own right."
Lucy is currently working on a novel involving three generations of women.
The £15,000 first prize in this year's BBC National Short Story Award went to Sarah Hall for her story, Mrs Fox. The other short-listed authors, Lionel Shriver, Lisa Blower and Lavinia Greenlaw, each received £500.
Diving Belles by Lucy Wood is published by Bloomsbury.