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It’s a triple celebration – the blog is one year old today, this is my 50th post, and I’ve just won The National (Abu Dhabi) 2014 Short Story Competition. I’m delighted about all three milestones, but no doubt the most important as far as my writing goes, is the competition win. It’s always good to know you’re doing something right. I took a long drive to The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair to collect my prize and to meet the judges and the other writers. Here we are on the Discussion Sofa:

L-R: Shaad Thani, Alexandra Buchler (Head Judge), Mays Albaik, Me.

L-R: Shaad Thani, Alexandra Büchler (Head Judge), Mays Albaik, Me.

I’d like to thank Anne Marie McQueen, Arts and Life Editor at The National newspaper and her staff for the great coverage, and of course for my lovely prize – an iPad Air and Mont Blanc pen. It was a delight to meet the charming Alexandra Büchler, Director of Literature Across Frontiers, and I thank her sincerely for her kind words about my short story ‘Turning Point’. It was also a real pleasure to meet Shaad Thani and Mays Albaik, although unfortunately, the other prize winners, Jody Ballard and Mark Shadwell couldn’t make the event.

The National article by Afshan Ahmed announcing the win is here. You can read the story at this link and The National think of everything – you can listen to the story read by Kevin McCardle on their website (11 minutes).

In March I blogged about the problem of writing characters with whom the reader can make an emotional connection. I didn’t think about this when I was writing ‘Turning Point’, I just sat down and got on with it. But last night, I had a Twitter message from Mohammed Al Otaibi, Editor in Chief of The National in Abu Dhabi, in which he described my story as ‘quite moving’. Other readers (including my husband who has never read anything of mine before) told me they had the same reaction. This is enormously encouraging because the main character and narrator in ‘Turning Point’ is a robot. If I can provoke this reaction in readers when I write about a robot … well, I’ve got no excuses for not creating human characters that readers can connect with.

Waiting for the Prizes to arrive!

Waiting for the Prizes to arrive!