Clare Wigfall: Winner of the BBC National Short Story Award 2008

Clare Wigfall

Clare Wigfall’s debut collection of short stories The Loudest Sound and Nothing was published in 2007 to critical acclaim. In 2008 she won the internationally renowned BBC National Short Story Award for “The Numbers”, one of the stories from her collection. Clare was born in London but spent her early childhood in Berkeley, California before returning to the UK. Since graduating from Manchester University, she has lived in Prague, Norwich, Berlin, and now in Edinburgh. She is a Litro alumna.

What have you been up to since your publication in Litro?

My short story “The Party’s Just Getting Started” was published in Litro #97: East London. After that I took part in a crazy Litro photoshoot at the incredible Dalston Boys Club. Since then, I’ve spent a year in Edinburgh. The Book Festival was a definite highlight, as was a residency I did at Cove Park.

Faber & Faber have commissioned me to write two new books for them; a new collection of stories, and a novel which will be set in colonial Malaya. Last year I was awarded the K. Blundell Trust Award. I was also longlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Bank Short Story Award, and shortly after had the honour of being appointed as Writer in Residence for Booktrust. For eight months, I kept a blog for Booktrust which is archived on the site, so do take a look. I recently published my first children’s picturebook—Has Anyone Seen My Chihuahua?with Walker Books.

As a direct result of my Litro publication, I was asked to teach for the London organisation Spread the Word. I’ve also started teaching for the Arvon Foundation this year and ran the first workshop series for the Cork International Short Story Festival. Life has now taken me back to Berlin, a city I love, where I am working on my new story collection for Faber.

What is your earliest childhood memory?
It would be something faded by the Californian sun of the early-eighties, most probably.

What makes you happy?
Tea, my daughter’s laughter, good music on my headphones, finishing a new story, sunlight.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
When I was at art school, and decided I didn’t want to be an artist.

What are you reading at the moment?
How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by the Bosnian-German writer Saša Stanišić.

What advice would you give to a first time writer?
There are no rules.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Lucky Charms cereal – pure sugar and chemicals.

How do you relax?
Watching kittens on YouTube.

What is your favourite book?
I don’t pick favourites.

Which author is underrated or deserves to be better-known?
Molly Keane.

What’s the worst job you’ve had?
One week in an office.

What is the most important thing life has taught you?
Ask me when I reach the end.

What’s next?
A new story collection for Faber.

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