Monday, 26 November 2012

A visit with Nik Perring

The Nik Perring ShowToday I'm over at short story writer Nik Perring's blog, talking about writing Sweet Home, staying up all night to meet MA story deadlines and cake!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Book Crossing

It's taking Amazon ages to reveal that yes, copies of my book are actually available to buy and yes, the books are with the distributor and available for dispatch and so on. In the meantime, books are available from Salt Publishing and Waterstones and I've been thinking about ways to send some copies out in the world. I've given several books away in recent weeks and I've been trying to think of something different. Last night I discovered the Book Crossing website and I've decided to send one copy of my book on a little journey.

The idea of Book Crossing is that you label a book and then give it away. You can pass it on to a friend or a stranger (or a strange friend or a friendly stranger). This is called a “controlled release", because you know the destination of your book’s next stop. Alternately, you can release a book into the wild - on a park bench, in a train station, on the table in your favorite coffee shop, anywhere it’s likely to be caught by another reader. When another reader finds the book, they can enter the BCID on and report that it’s been caught. Journal entries about the book should allow you to see where it is, who's reading it now, and follow where it goes next. There are currently over 850,000 active BookCrossers who have collectively registered almost seven million books which are traveling around 130 countries.

It sounds like a great idea. My book is all wrapped up for its journey to Brighton tomorrow. I wonder where it will go next?

Top image from the Book Crossing Website.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Review by Laura Wilkinson

Blogging about interviews and reviews came to an abrupt halt this week when my first and second year students submitted their Reading as a Writer essays.

I've crawled out from under a pile of papers to read novelist and short story writer Laura Wilkinson's review of Sweet Home. She writes:
I haven’t admired a single author collection as much since Claire Keegan’s Walk the Blue Fields. Sweet Home is a stunning piece of work. Vividly written with a keen eye for the truth, no matter how uncomfortable that might be, and laced with humour, Bray cuts to the heart of the human condition in both prosaic and fantastical situations.
The whole review is available to read here.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Giveaway Winner

I did the Sweet Home draw this evening with some help from son number 1.

We found a Christmas hat (argh, can't believe it's almost Christmas) and put all of the names into it.

Then son number 1 did the draw...

And the winner is Diana G.

If you'd still like to be in with a chance of winning a free copy of the book, there's one more Sweet Home giveaway on the go. It's happening over at the Strictly Writing Blog. Good luck!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Strictly Writing Visit

Strictly WritingToday I'm over at the Strictly Writing Blog talking about Sweet Home, the Strictly Writing Award and where I find story ideas.

The Strictly Writing people are giving away a copy of Sweet Home. They're asking for responses in the comments section to the following question: Which traditional fairy story would you like to give a modern twist and why?

Thursday, 15 November 2012

My Life in Short Fiction with Dan Powell

Today I was over at Dan Powell's blog, fielding questions about my life in short fiction. Dan's questions were pretty hard to answer. He asked about the first short story I remember enjoying, the short story that turned me on to writing short fiction, an author who has influenced me, the story from Sweet Home that most reveals something about me and my all time favourite story.

Click on the link above to see my answers.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Review and Interview with Sarah Jasmon

aka sarahontheboatToday I visit the blog of novelist and short story writer, Sarah Jasmon.

I answer questions about writing, submitting work and who I'd like to spend an afternoon with in Southport.

Sarah also reviews Sweet Home.

Here is an excerpt from her review:
Each of the seventeen stories conjures up a complete world. The characters may teeter on the edge of insanity or stay resolutely in the matter of fact, but all are rooted in the minutiae of real life. The old woman who builds a gingerbread house shops for bargain marzipan in the January sales; a sleepy baby arches and stretches so that we can feel her soft weight; an old lady chases the darkness, ‘switching on lights in its wake, until the whole house is shining like a warning flare.’ There is a deep understanding of the world of the family, with its pitfalls, daily dramas and hidden places. Nothing jars. You can reach out and touch it.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Interview with Jen Campbell

Today I am over at Jen Campbell's blog talking about Sweet Home and my novel in progress.

Jen is also giving away a copy of Sweet Home, you just have to comment on her blog to be in with a chance of winning the book.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Win a signed copy of Sweet Home

To celebrate the publication of Sweet Home I'm giving away a signed copy of the book.

To win the book, just comment at the bottom of this post. I will put the names in a hat on Sunday 18th November and draw a winner. I'll send the collection anywhere in the world.

I'll throw in one of the cake boxes I bought for the Sweet Home cupcakes and something sweet (although it probably won't be a cupcake - that could get pretty messy in the mail).

If you're not sure whether the book is for you, here are a couple of excerpts from reviews:
This is a wonderful short story collection. It won Salt Publishing's Scott Prize, and it really doesn't disappoint. The stories will haunt you, and trouble you; they'll also tug on your heart strings and make you tear up. One of the stories (The Rescue) made me cry. The theme of family runs through all of the tales; Carys writes about the things people don't talk about, the hidden emotions of family life, the things that go on behind closed doors and inside the minds of children and parents(Jen Campbell)
The stories in Sweet Home work like beads on a thread, each reflecting on those around it, but each with its own distinct texture and lustre. Nothing is sugar coated. It is honest and unguarded – so far from what mummycentric websites and smug washing powder adverts would have you believe, I feel safe and reassured by all that stark reality. Sweet Home is alive, beautiful and painfully true. (Sarah Schofield)
Good luck!

Recent Guest Blog Posts

In the lead up to publication I wrote a piece on the process of writing a short story collection at novelist Laura Wilkinson's blog and a post about why I love short stories at poet and short story writer Alison Lock's blog. Click on the links to have a read.

Saturday, 10 November 2012


The book launch was last night. It went really well. The bookshop only had four books left and they asked me to sign them all before I went home. We had cakes and drinks and there was plenty of time to chat to people. I came home with chocolates, a Lush bath bomb, a bottle of wine and two bunches of flowers. It felt like it was my birthday.

The next bit is going to sound horribly like an acceptance speech, but I'm going to do it anyway - It's my blog and I'll say thank you if I want to...

Thanks to my lovely writing friends who came - Alisa Cox, Elizabeth Baines, Carol Fenlon, Claire Massey, Zoe Lambert, Ben Judge, Sarah Schofield, Sarah Jasmon, Elaine Wilson, Joe Welsh, Jay Dougherty, Amanda Richardson, Emma Johnson (if I've forgotten anyone I'm very sorry!). Thanks to my friends Nik, Janet and Mandy, to Stuart, Karen and Aaron and to my sister Lizzy who drove all the way from Exeter. Thanks to Tim Power for taking photographs, to Broadhursts for having me and to the Sefton Celebrates Writing team for arranging things. And a huge thank you to my children for pouring drinks and handing out cakes and behaving beautifully for a whole hour and a half.

When I got home from the launch I discovered my first goodreads review, written by author (Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops) and poet (The Hungry Ghost Festival), Jen Campbell. It was a lovely end to a fantastic day.

Short story writer and novelist Elizabeth Baines writes about the launch here.

Photograph from OTS News.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Local Bookshop Window

I popped into town this morning and decided to walk past Broadhursts. They told me they would do a little display in the window during the week of my launch, so I walked past, thinking that if I looked carefully, I might see one of my books.

Aren't local bookshops brilliant?

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Real Books

My books arrived this week. It was a very exciting and strange moment.

The French flaps are beautiful and cover is soft and smooth.

The children all want their own copy, although Alice is the only one who has shown any interest in reading the stories. I watched as she opened her copy and I saw her face light up as she read the dedication page.

'Oh thank you!' she said. 'I have always wanted to be mentioned in the dedication of a book.'

Phew, good job I decided to write one then.

It's really, really strange and lovely to look at the words on the pages and know that I ordered and arranged them all.

The book is now available to buy from Salt Publishing and should also be available on Amazon soon.

People (including the man who delivered the books) have been asking me what Sweet Home is about. It's a really hard question, and in some ways it's not a question I can answer as it's up to the reader to decide. Below is a short trailer which shows some of the things I think Sweet Home is about.