AN ENNISKILLEN author has been short-listed for a prestigious short story competition for the second year in a row.
Sheila Llewellyn had one of her stories short-listed in 2012 for the inaugural Costa short story award, and this year she has once again made the short list – this time for a story set during the Iranian revolution.
Sheila explains the entries are judged anonymously and with over 1000 entries each year to be selected twice in two years is something rather special.
The short story competition is an addition to the already established Costa Book Award and was started to encourage the short story writers.
“I was told in November that I was once again on the short-list but you aren’t allow to tell anyone until they release it,” said Sheila.
“Some of the criteria include that the story can’t be longer than 4000 word, the work must be unpublished and that you only submit this to the Costa competition.”
The competition aims to encourage unpublished authors but is open to authors who have had work published, and Sheila says some quite well established authors submit stories to this, and other similar competitions.
“I am only writing about four years. I moved back to Northern Ireland about ten years ago, and worked as a psychologist in post-traumatic stress. Before that I worked overseas for many years.”
Sheila said the story that has been short-listed is called ‘The Papakh Hat’
The summary of the story Costa are using is – ‘The Revolution in Iran in 1978-9 has already started, and two men are forced to make life-changing decisions about their future together.’
“I was working in Iran at the beginning of the revolution, but it’s taken me thirty years to distance myself enough from the experience of being there at that time to be able to write about it.
“It wasn’t until I started the MA in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s four years ago, that I ‘went public’ with my series of short stories about Iran.
Talking about the competition Sheila said there are some fantastic stories among the short list, and she is amazed to be on it. “It’s a real confidence boost.”
Now retired, Sheila said she mostly writed, reads, and visits museums, art galleries and archives researching stories.
She is currently researching and working on her first book, a medical novel and intends to visit the archives in London when she is over this week for the awards ceremony, which was due to take place last night, Tuesday, January 28 at Quaglino’s in London.