Saturday 26 September 2020

The Wit & Guest Post of Hilda Ffinch

Possible my last blog tour alert for a while, but this caught my eye randomly and I knew I had to get involved in this tour in one form or another!

So, The Wit and Wisdom of Hilda Ffinch. In the small village of Little Hope in deepest, darkest Yorkishire during the Second World War, villagers are trying their very bet to Keep Calm and Carry On. It isn't exactly easy, not with the air raids, the evacuees and the shortage of knicker-elastic (THE HORROR!), but they are trying.

Enter Mrs Hilda Ffinch. A bored but terrible rich lady of the manor who decides, after a glass or too many gin and tonics, to do her bit and become Agony Aunt for the local paper... I mean, what can go possible wrong with this?

... yeah, you can see why I wanted to be involved in this tour, can you|?

Now, before I hand you over to a guest post from the lovely Juliet Warrington, I want to thank her for finding time to write this guest post, chatting about Hilda. I, also, want to thank Blue from Kaleidoscopic for asking if I wanted to be involved in this tour.

And, before I give you Juliet's guest post (where she chats about her favourite things about being a writer), if you want to say hi to Juliet, you can do so via her Twitter (@authorjulietwar) or check out her website, I, also, want to thank Blue from Kaleidoscopic Tours, for asking if I wanted to be involved in this blog tour. 

With that out of the way, OVER TO YOU JULIET!

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Let's Talk Four Bears

So, the past few months as been an interesting/scary time for us all, hasn’t it? And I am still scared out of my mind that the UK will go into a second national lockdown (let’s not talk politics now. I don’t think I can handle writing politics on the blog). So, I wanted to talk about one of the series I have been reading throughout lockdown and me being furlodge. Yes, I binged The Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix and loved revisiting this world, but how about a new series? Something that wasn’t on my radar till just before lockdown… 

Four Bears Construction series by K.M. Neuhold came on my radar by fluke. The first book in the series, Caulky, popped up on my Amazon under that “Inspired By” and, yes, the cover for it is very eye-catching [insert gif of Blanche from Golden Girls here] and the synopsis catch my attention so, on a whim, I bought it and read it. And had such fun that I have continued with the series… 

The Four Bear Construction series is an adult MM romance series, which has little to no angst (though there is angst. The first and fourth books are quite sweet, while the second and the third has a slightly angsty edge) and they all end with a Happy Ever After. 

So, yeah, this is VERY not me. I mean, straight-up romances aren’t my usual go-to for reads, but you have seen in the past that I have tried to dip my toe into romance. Sometimes, it works and I have had a blast, other times have been… well… 

So why is this series the series I have hooked into? I have no idea. But this series, as well as my reread of Garth Nix’s The Old Kingdom, has been my COVID-19 series go-to. 

Now, I have blogged my thoughts of the first two books in the series - Caulky and Nailed (the links for them are here and here!) - but I haven’t for the third nor the fourth - Hardwood and Screwed - but that was due to sudden, much needed blog break (though Hardwood did get a tiny write-up on my Goodreads and will probably do the same with Screwed once I get my brain in order. But then, am writing this post so …)

So, in case you haven’t any of my posts, let’s do a quick skim over the four books. Now, before I go any further, you can read these as standalones as each book focuses on one romance, but if you read the whole series, certain events make more sense.

Sunday 20 September 2020

BBC Young Writers' Award 2020 Shortlist - PRESS RELEASE!!!

***Embargoed until Sunday 20 September 2020, 1800hrs ***


inspired by immigration, feminism, disability and care homes

#BBCYWA #shortstories @BBCR1

Giving voice to the ‘othered’ and reclaiming narratives dominates a ‘deeply impressive’ shortlist for the 2020 BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University, announced live on BBC Radio 1’s Life Hacks today (Sunday 20 September).

From the tender relationship between a boy and his grandmother inspired by family experience of Alzheimer’s, to a feminist reclaiming of the Greek myth of Persephone; from the memory and stories of a first-generation Indian immigrant, to a celebration of ‘otherness’ and the transformative power of difference, via a darkly comic exploration of humanity in a crowded tube carriage: the five sophisticated stories, penned by writers aged 15 to 18 were praised by the judges for their ‘startling confidence’ and ‘deeply impressive’ range of subject matter and style. 

Practising for GCSE English Language papers inspired two finalists to write, with one, Ben Marshall, never having written a short story before outside of the classroom. The shortlist also sees the return of 2018 finalist Lottie Mills – a second-year English Literature student at Cambridge University – for her ‘genuine triumph’ of a story inspired by her #OwnVoices experience of disability and her frustration at how difference is represented. 

Now in its sixth year, The BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University 2020 is open to all writers between the ages of 13 18 years and was created to discover and inspire the next generation of writers. It is a cross-network collaboration between BBC Radio 4 and Radio 1.

The 2020 BBC Young Writers’ Award shortlist is:

  • ‘Winds that Travel Across’ by Maleeha Faruki, 18, from Leicester
  • ‘Three Pomegranate Seeds’ by Mei Kawagoe, 15, from Leicestershire 
  • ‘Bingo Tuesdays’ by Ben Marshall, 18, from Otford, Kent
  • ‘The Changeling’ by Lottie Mills, 18, from Stevenage, Hertfordshire
  • ‘The Battle of Trafalgar Square’ by Naomi Thomas, 17, from Sheffield 

Katie Thistleton, Chair of the 2020 BBC Young Writers’ Award Judging Panel, says:

“Congratulations to our five shortlisted writers and thank you to everyone who entered the 2020 BBC Young Writers’ Award. This year has been an unsettling one for young people and writing has proved a powerful way to explore complex feelings and emotions. Gaining insight into the minds of teenagers and what they care about through their writing has never seemed so vital. I hope this year’s entries will inspire others.”

Thistleton is joined on the judging panel by: Laura Bates, Sunday Times bestselling author and founder of ‘The Everyday Sexism Project’; screenwriter, novelist and YA Book Prize 2018 winner Will Hill; winner of the Branford Boase Award and shortlistee for the YA Book Prize 2019 Muhammad Khan; and poet, critic and journalist Bridget Minamore.

The five shortlisted stories, each under 1000 words, will be read by actors including Hollyoaks and Derry Girls actor Dylan Llewelyn, The End of the F***ing World actress Jessica Barden, and comedian and actress, Nimisha Odedra and broadcast by BBC Radio 1 and available on BBC Sounds. They will also be available to read on the BBC Radio 1 website. The winner will be announced live on BBC Radio 4 Front Row on Tuesday 6 October.

The BBC Young Writers’ Award has a reputation for identifying the short story stars of the future. Shortlisting for this prize is a stepping-stone for writing success, with one of Lottie Mills’ fellow 2018 cohort, Reyah Martin, winning the 2020 Canada/Europe Commonwealth Short Story Prize aged just 20. In 2019, inaugural YWA winner Brennig Davies secured a place to study English Literature at Oxford University and won the coveted Crown literary prize at the Urdd Eisteddfod – a Welsh language cultural festival. 

Antonia Byatt, CEO, First Story says:


“Congratulations to the shortlisted young writers this year. What they have achieved is totally impressive - sophisticated dexterity, finely tuned sensitivity and a bold engagement with contemporary issues all stand out strongly in these stories. It’s warming, too, to see that creative writing in the GCSE curriculum has been a starting point for some of them, something it is important not to lose as schools concentrate on curriculum recovery this year. This years’ shortlistees are clearly all very committed writers and have great writing careers in front of them.”


Dr Sarah Dillon, Faculty of English, Cambridge University, says:

“The BBC Young Writers’ Award is such a crucial way of identifying and amplifying the voices of some of the UK’s best young short story writers. This year’s shortlist reassures that the form is alive and well with the younger generation. The stories reveal how some of today’s most challenging contemporary issues are feeding these young people’s imaginations and how, through writing and reading, experiences of hate, horror, frustration and despair can be transformed into sites of hope, humour and aspiration for a future this generation want to create, not just inherit.”

About the 2020 short stories:

‘Winds that Travel Across’ by Maleeha Faruki:

Over the course of a car journey, a father shares his memories of childhood, joys and hardships in India and the reasons he came to Britain. From frozen mountain peaks, to bustling bazaars and kitchens thick with the scent of lamb broth, this ‘effortless’ story was inspired by ‘people’s views on immigrants during Brexit’, a desire to reflect the stories that define us and the importance and humanity in individual experience. 

‘Three Pomegranate Seeds’ by Mei Kawagoe: 

In a highly imaginative and ‘fiercely evocative’ feminist retelling of a classic myth, Mei, whose writing has been performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Other Place, gives voice and agency to the kidnapped Persephone in this ‘visceral’ and rebellious story. Poetic and dream-like, it exposes societal constraints and the lessons girls are taught during childhood: to play small, be nice and not ask for more. 

‘Bingo Tuesdays’ by Ben Marshall: 

A ‘beautifully observed’ and ‘bittersweet’ story about family, loss and memory, Bingo Tuesdays was inspired by Ben’s personal experience of visiting care homes and the view that ‘sometimes care homes are where we discard the elderly’. Tender, emotionally mature and with a vividly realised sense of place, this story of a young man visiting his grandmother for their weekly bingo sessions was also inspired by memories of bingo sessions at Butlins, family experiences of Alzheimer’s and his grandparents love for each other. 

‘The Changeling’ by Lottie Mills:

Previously shortlisted in 2018, Lottie Mills #OwnVoices story was inspired by frustration with ‘how difference, especially disability, is represented in fiction’. Reclaiming the myth of the ‘changeling’ and transforming it from something used to persecute and exclude into something magical, she explores disability via the fantastic in this ‘heartbreakingly well-written’ and ‘genuine triumph’ of a fable about a young girl’s extraordinary coming of age.

‘The Battle of Trafalgar Square’ by Naomi Thomas:

Described by judges as a ‘a punch in the face of a story, in the best possible way,’ an ordinary commute on a crowded tube train is transformed into a surreal and darkly, comic experience when a woman has an unexpected and shocking accident. Written as practice for Naomi’s English Language GCSE, the story exposes both the good and bad in human nature via a short story that highlights the power of the form to ‘give us a complete literary experience in and of itself’. An avid short story writer, Naomi was Highly Commended in the Young Northern Writers’ Awards 2020. 

The shortlisted stories can be read and listened to online at:

Key Dates: 

  • From 6pm Sunday 20th September: The five shortlisted stories and interviews with the writers are available to listen to via the Short Works podcast on the BBC Sounds app and the BBC Radio 1 website
  • Tuesday 6 October: The winners of the BBC Young Writers’ Award and the 15th BBC National Short Story Award will be announced in a special short story edition of BBC Radio 4’s Front Row from 7.15pm. 
  • 46pm Sunday 11th October: The winner of the BBC Young Writers’ Award will be interviewed on Radio 1’s Life Hacks.


Maleeha Faruki is 18 years old and lives in Leicester. She credits her ambition to become a writer to a secondary school English teacher, who helped her to realise her love for writing. She finds connection with others through stories and uses writing as a way of processing her thoughts; she has kept her work mostly private up until now. In her shortlisted story, Maleeha addresses the prevalent issue of immigration, inspired by her own father’s stories of life growing up in India and moving to England. She reads across many genres, but in recent months has found herself leaning towards dystopian fiction, like Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and 1984 by George Orwell. Maleeha will begin her degree in English and Creative Writing at the University of Leicester this autumn.

Mei Kawagoe is 15 years old and lives in Leicestershire. She writes constantly – in her head, on scraps of paper, in notebooks or on her laptop – and in all forms, from short stories to journalistic pieces and poems. She has been a member of a monthly creative writing group for two years, for which she performed her writing at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Other Place in Stratford, and also attends a weekly journalism group. Mei loves how words make her feel and is an avid reader; some of her favourite books include Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, and Gravity is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty. She submitted her story after being inspired by the strength and brilliance of the 2019 YWA shortlist and has previously submitted her writing to BBC 500 Words; Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize; Fireside Magazine and Vogue Talent Contest. She is one of 15 winners of the Daunt Books Children’s Short Story Competition 2020, which will see her writing published in an anthology with an introduction by Patrice Lawrence. 

Ben Marshall is 18 years old and lives in Kent. This is the first short story Ben has written outside of the school curriculum and since finishing his English GCSE. His real passion is film and being shortlisted for the BBC YWA has given him the drive to start writing screenplays. His dialogue was inspired by film and TV, particularly Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s Inside No. 9 and Aaron Sorkin’s work, namely the opening scene of The Social Network. Ben is due to begin a degree in physics at Durham University this autumn.  

Lottie Mills is 18 years old and lives in Hertfordshire. She was previously shortlisted for the BBC YWA in 2018 for her story, Unspoken. Currently studying English Literature at Newnham College, University of Cambridge, books and literature are her greatest loves. When she isn’t reading, Lottie is writing, either on her laptop or, if writer’s block strikes, on her 1930s typewriter. As a disabled person who was often stuck indoors as a child, she knows how vital stories are to our wellbeing – her favourite children’s authors included Hilary McKay, Lemony Snicket and Liz Kessler, the latter of whom she has remained in touch with and has been a real inspiration to her writing journey. Lottie recently became frustrated with how difference and disability is represented in fiction and wanted to write a story which reflects the unique strength of outsiders. She is currently working on her first novel, a children’s book, and aspires to be an author as she knows first-hand how life changing the right story can be. 

Naomi Thomas is 17 years old and lives in Sheffield. She is part of the creative writing group Sheffield Young Writers, who encouraged her to submit her work for the BBC YWA, and a new member of the Writing Squad – a development programme for writers across the North. She sees reading and writing as two sides of the same coin and enjoys fiction that is distinctive, like Angela Carter’s Wise Children, or informative, such as Andrea Levy’s Small Island. Equally, cosying up with something familiar like Sherlock Holmes is one of her favourite ways to relax. Naomi believes art can be a formidable proponent for social change and sees creativity as a wonderful way to explore her faith, beliefs and identity. She currently writes mainly short stories and was awarded Senior Runner Up in the Orwell Youth Prize 2020 for her piece The Michelin Woman. She was also Highly Commended in the Young Northern Writers’ Award 2020 for a selection of her work. Naomi is currently in sixth form and is hoping to study English Literature at university.


  • This is the sixth year of the BBC Young Writers’ Award which invites all 13 – 18-year-olds living in the United Kingdom to submit short stories of up to 1,000 words. The Award was launched as part of the tenth anniversary celebrations for the BBC National Short Story Award – this year celebrating its 15th anniversary – and aims to inspire and encourage the next generation of writers. Previous winners are Brennig Davies (2015), Lizzie Freestone (2016), Elizabeth Ryder (2017), Davina Bacon (2018) and Georgie Woodhead (2019). 
  • BBC Radio 1 is the UK’s No.1 youth station, targeting 15 to 29 year-olds with a distinctive mix of new music and programmes focusing on issues affecting young people. The station is the soundtrack to young people's lives in the UK and has been for over 50 years. 
  • BBC Radio 4 is the world’s biggest single commissioner of short stories, which attract more than a million listeners. Contemporary stories are broadcast every week, the majority of which are specially commissioned throughout the year 
  • The mission of the University of Cambridge is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. To date, 107 affiliates of the University have won the Nobel Prize. Founded in 1209, the University comprises 31 autonomous Colleges, which admit undergraduates and provide small-group tuition, and 150 departments, faculties and institutions. The University sits at the heart of one of the world's largest technology clusters. The 'Cambridge Phenomenon' has created 1,500 hi-tech companies, 14 of them valued at over US$1 billion and two at over US$10 billion. Cambridge promotes the interface between academia and business and has a global reputation for innovation. The BBC National Short Story Award is being supported by the School of Arts and Humanities, Faculty of English, University Library and the new University of Cambridge Centre for Creative Writing which is part of the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, which provides a range of part-time and courses to members of the public.
  • First Story believes there is dignity and power in being able to tell your own story, and that writing can transform lives. We’re working towards a society that encourages and supports all young people to write creatively for pleasure and agency. We’re committed to bringing opportunities for creativity to students who may not otherwise have the chance. Our flagship programme places professional writers into secondary schools serving low-income communities, where they work intensively with students and teachers to foster confidence, creativity and writing ability. Through our core programme and extended activities, we expand young people’s horizons and raise aspirations. Participants gain vital skills that underpin academic attainment and support achieving potential. Find out more and get involved at 

Friday 18 September 2020

Audiobook Review - Eight Detectives

  • Title And Author: Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi
  • Publisher: Michael Joseph/Penguin
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: eBook and Audiobook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: eProof Gifted by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and Audiobook borrowed from local library via BorrowBox
  • Length: 352 Pages or 11 Hours 16 Minutes

I am going to admit, right here and now, that I am not the biggest crime/mystery reader.Not that I don’t like the genre - I do, hugely, just as much as I like reading fantasy - but I am not as well read in the genre compared to other readers, so when I first heard of Eight Detectives, I admit I was a little curious, but made an active decision to not know much about it. I requested it from the UK publishers on NetGalley and, after several months of “Oooh”ing and “Ahh”ing, I decide to give this a whirl, though I was still in the dark over what exactly this book was about. 

Grant McAllister is a professor of mathematics. One day, thirty years ago, he wrote a paper about the mathematical rules of murder mysteries. He wrote a collection of seven short stories inspired by his paper, self-published the collection - The White Murders - then vanished from public life, living in seclusion in a small village on a quiet Mediterranean island. 

That is, until Julia comes along. Julia is an editor for a small, crime publishing house and its owner wants to republish the collection. Together, the two go over each of the seven stories to amend for a modern audience. 

But Julia notices that, in each story, there’s are errors. Inconsistencies that reference a real life murder that has been unsolved for thirty year. The murder of actress Elizabeth White, which the media dubbed at the time, The White Murder

Tuesday 15 September 2020

Audiobook Review - The Murder Room

I'm surprised that this is the first review am writing for the new Pewter Wolf. As you know, from my Sit Crooked And Talk Straight post, the last few months have been a bit of a struggle so am trying to find a new medium of writing the blog and having fun with it, so am trying things out. The next few months are going to be very trial and error. 

But this is a book reviewing book, so I should write a few bookish things on here, right? Something to reflect my, hopefully, new change in direction. Something fun, light, hopefully in these dark times, something - *checks notes* - nope, let’s talk murders, shall we? 

  • Title And Author: The Murder Room by PD James
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Bought
  • Length: 560 Pages or 12 Hours 39 Minutes

Commander Adam Dalgliesh knows of the Dupayne Museum in Hampstead. He took one of his friends there one Friday. He knows about niché museum’s commitment to preserve the history of the interwar years, including its sinister murder room. Now, he and his team are asked to investigate the murder of one of the trustees. Petrol was thrown on him and his car and set alight. With news that the this trustee was refusing to sign a new lease, meaning the museum would close, it now looks like his death was targeted. 

But what makes the murder more creepy is how similar it is to one of the murders in the Murder Room. A coincidence? Or is the killer using the Murder Room for inspiration and, if so, what murder are they going to do next…?

Friday 11 September 2020

BBC National Short Story Award 2020 - PRESS RELEASE!!!

***Embargoed until Friday 11 September 2020, 1945hrs ***




2013 BBC NSSA winner and four-time nominated Sarah Hall joined by 26-year-old British-Ghanaian photographer Caleb Azumah Nelson, Creative Writing lecturer and James Tait Black Prize winner Eley Williams, poet and newcomer Jack Houston, and Belfast-based writer and 2019 EU Prize for Literature for Ireland winner Jan Carson to complete shortlist of writers exploring race, family politics, millennial relationships and inner-city life. #BBCNSSA #ShortStories

The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University (BBC NSSA) shortlist was announced this evening, Friday 11 September 2020 during BBC Radio 4’s Front Row. Celebrating 15 years of the Award, the shortlist included established and new voices with 2013 winner of the Award Sarah Hall shortlisted for the fourth time. The judges praised the shortlist for its energy, experimentation and versatility with the stories ranging from ‘perfectly miniaturised flash-fiction’ to the ‘fully literary and layered’ via diverse and topical inspirations including Black Lives Matter, millennial relationships, addiction, loss and family politics. 

BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University 2020 shortlist is:

  • ‘Pray’ by Caleb Azumah Nelson
  • ‘In The Car With the Rain Coming Down’ by Jan Carson
  • ‘The Grotesques’ by Sarah Hall
  • ‘Come Down Heavy’ by Jack Houston
  • ‘Scrimshaw’ by Eley Williams

The BBC National Short Story Award is one of the most prestigious for a single short story, with the winning author receiving £15,000, and four further shortlisted authors £600 each. The 2019 winner of the BBC National Short Story Award was Welsh writer Jo Lloyd, who won for The Invisible’. 

The 2020 winner will be announced live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row on Tuesday 6th October.

All five stories will be broadcast on Radio 4 and on BBC Sounds and published in an anthology produced by Comma Press. The readers of this year’s stories include award-winning actress of stage and screen Anne-Marie Duff, who reads ‘Come Down Heavy’; Law and Order actor and rapper Ben Bailey-Smith, aka Doc Brown, reading ‘Pray’; and Outlander star and Northern Irish actor Laura Donnelly reading ‘In The Car With the Rain Coming Down’. Lydia Wilson, whose television credits include Requiem and Flack reads ‘The Grotesques’, with Call the Midwife and Fresh Meat actor and singer-songwriter Charlotte Ritchie completing the line-up with ‘Scrimshaw’. 

Jonathan Freedland, journalist, author and Chair of Judges for the BBC National Short Story Award 2020, says: ‘In a strange, perplexing year, we five judges were privileged to be taken away to worlds both faraway and near, rendered by five brilliant writers. These stories deal with the timeless human preoccupations – family, love, loss, longing – but with freshness, energy and great skill. Any reader picking up the collection or tuning into them on air has a variety of delights to look forward to and – luckier than us – they'll be free of the painful task of picking a winner.’

Jonathan Freedland is joined on this year’s judging panel by Commonwealth Prize winner Lucy Caldwell, who was shortlisted for both the 2012 and 2019 BBC NSSA; British-Nigerian writer Irenosen Okojie, a Betty Trask and Caine Prize winner; Edge Hill Prize shortlistee and Guardian short story columnist Chris Power; and returning judge Di Speirs, Books Editor at BBC Audio.

Di Speirs, Editor of Books at BBC Audio and judge of the Award since its launch says: ‘I am inordinately proud of this year’s shortlist – it’s sharp, relevant, sometimes heart-rending, sometimes funny! If we set out 15 years ago to help save the short story, what this year’s writers prove is that in 2020 it is rude health and more versatile and flexible than ever. From what is practically but perfectly miniaturised flash fiction, to the fully literary and layered, via bold new voices tackling tough realities and incisive humour within domestic tensions, this list reflects a generation of writers playing with form, range and the freedom of short fiction. Do listen to or read them.’

The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University was established to raise the profile of the short form and this year’s shortlist join distinguished alumni such as Zadie Smith, Lionel Shriver, Rose Tremain, William Trevor and Mark Haddon. As well as rewarding the most renowned short story writers, the Award has raised the profile of new writers including Ingrid Persaud, K J Orr, Julian Gough, Cynan Jones and Clare Wigfall.

Dr Sarah Dillon, University of Cambridge says: 

It is a pleasure this year to see the shortlist represent both established writers of short stories, and new emerging writers, reflecting Cambridge’s commitment both to studying the canonical history of short fiction, and its focus on nurturing students’ creativity and voice. In a year such as this, the shortlist yet again demonstrates the importance of creative writing, especially the short form, for making sense of the world we all share.’

About the short stories:

British-Ghanaian Caleb Azumah Nelson’sPray’ is a ‘vibrant, invigorating and agile’ story set over a summer in South East London. Charged with ‘wit, anger, affection and sorrow’, the story shows the reality for young black men navigating a world that ‘wasn’t built with us in mind’.  With characters and dialogue so alive they reach out from the page, ‘Pray’ explores fear, injustice, masculinity, race and the origins of violence. Caleb’s eagerly anticipated debut novel Open Water recently sold in a nine-way auction and publishes in February 2021.

Jan Carson, winner of the EU Prize for Literature for Ireland 2019, is shortlisted for her ‘tender, humane and sharply observed’ story ‘In The Car With the Rain Coming Down’. Inspired by her upbringing in rural, Protestant Northern Ireland, she takes both her characters and readers on a literal and emotional journey, weaving together family politics and community rivalries as a family set off on an ill-fated picnic. Tender, nuanced and funny, it will resonate with anyone who is part of an extended family.

Carson is joined on the shortlist by Sarah Hall, the 2013 BBC NSSA winner, twice nominated for the Booker prize and the author of five novels. ‘The Grotesques’ is the ‘brilliantly observed and layered story’ of a young woman’s birthday gathering. Set against the backdrop of privilege and inequality in a university town, it explores themes of toxic mother-child relationships, covert control, scapegoating, and the masks we can wear to either challenge or conform to our place in society. 

Shortlisted for the Award for the first time is Keats-Shelley Prize runner-up and one-to-watch Jack Houston with the ‘uncompromising, compelling’ ‘Come Down Heavy’, inspired by his own experiences. Echoes of Kae Tempest and Irvine Welsh imbue the prose-poetry of his ‘breathless’ work – a spiralling, unsettling and disorientating story of two women’s seemingly unstoppable descent into a world on the fringes of society; a world of poverty, violence, addiction and despair. 

Completing the shortlist is Eley Williams, Creative Writing Lecturer at Royal Holloway and winner of the James Tait Black Prize, shortlisted for her surreal and succinct ‘Scrimshaw’. A ‘fresh, funny’ take on millennial relationships and the perils of modern smartphone communication, this ‘taut tale’ told via a late-night text session and inspired by the ‘literary nonsense’ of Edward Lear and Ivor Cutler, explores self-censorship, anxiety, attraction and the boundaries of language. 

The BBC also continue to celebrate young, emerging talent with the sixth BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University shortlist announced on Sunday 20th September. Open to 1318 year olds, the aim of this Award is to inspire and encourage the next generation of short story writers and is a cross-network collaboration between BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 1. The winner of the BBC Young Writers’ Award will also be announced on 6th October on Front Row.

Key Dates: 

  • From Friday 11 September: Front Row will broadcast interviews with each of the 2020 shortlisted writers on Radio 4 and on BBC Sounds from 7pm on Friday 11, and from 7.15pm on Monday 14, Tuesday 15, Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 September 2020. 
  • From Monday 14 September: Shortlisted stories will be broadcast on Radio 4 and on BBC Sounds from Monday 14 to Friday 17 September 2020 from 3.30 to 4pm.
  • From Monday 14 September: An anthology – The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University 2020 – introduced by Chair of Judges Freedland and published by Comma Press will be available at and all good bookshops priced £7.99.
  • Sunday 20 September: The stories shortlisted for the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University will be announced on Radio 1 and on BBC Sounds on Sunday 20 September from 4 – 6pm.
  • Tuesday 6 October: The announcement of the winners of the two awards and a celebration of the 15th anniversary of the BBC National Short Story Award will be announced in a special short story edition of BBC Radio 4’s Front Row from 7.15pm. 


For AWARD PRESS ENQUIRIES contact Emma Draude, Bethan James or Annabelle Wright at, or 

or call 020 7732 4796 or 

for BBC RADIO 4 PRESS ENQUIRIES contact Sean Harwood at
or on 07718 695382 

Photos of the shortlisted writers and logos are available to download here


  • Caleb Azumah Nelson is a 26-year-old British-Ghanaian writer and photographer. His writing has been published in Litro and is forthcoming in The White Review. He was recently shortlisted for the Palm Photo Prize and won the People's Choice prize. Open Water, his eagerly anticipated debut novel, is published by Penguin Viking (UK) and Grove Atlantic (US) in February 2021. Caleb lives in South East London. 

  • Jan Carson is a writer and community arts facilitator. Her debut novel Malcolm Orange Disappears and short story collection, Children’s Children, were published by Liberties Press, Dublin. A micro-fiction collection, Postcard Stories was published by the Emma Press in 2017. A second volume is forthcoming in August 2020. Jan’s novel The Fire Starters was published by Doubleday in April 2019 and subsequently won the EU Prize for Literature for Ireland 2019, the Blackwell’s Books Kitschies Prize for speculative fiction and was shortlisted for the inaugural Dalkey Book Prize 2020. Jan has also been shortlisted for the Sean O’Faolain Short Story Prize and in 2016 won the Harper’s Bazaar Short Story Prize. Her work has appeared in journals such as Banshee, The Tangerine, Winter Papers and Harper’s Bazaar and on BBC Radio 3 and 4. In 2018 Jan was the Irish Writers Centre’s inaugural Roaming Writer in Residence on the trains of Ireland. She is the 2019 recipient of the Jack Harte Bursary. Jan has curated the CS Lewis Festival, the Hillsborough Festival of Literature and Ideas and the inaugural Belfast Lit Crawl. She specialises in arts engagement with older people living with Dementia and has received funding through Queen’s University Belfast to carry out a research project into the representation of Dementia in literature. Carson has a BA in English from Queen’s University Belfast and a MLitt in Theology and Contemporary Culture from St Andrews University, Scotland. She has facilitated creative writing workshops for the University of Ulster, Irish Writers Centre, Dublin, John Hewitt Summer School, West Cork Literary Festival and many other universities, festivals and organisations. Jan was born in Ballymena and now lives in East Belfast, Northern Ireland.

  • Sarah Hall was born in Cumbria in 1974. Twice nominated for the Man Booker Prize, she is the award-winning author of five novels and three short-story collections – The Beautiful Indifference, which won the Edge Hill and Portico prizes, Madame Zero, shortlisted for the Edge Hill Prize and winner of the East Anglian Book Award, and Sudden Traveller (2019). She is currently the only author to be four times shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award, in 2010, 2013, 2018, and now in 2020; she won in 2013 with her story ‘Mrs Fox’. Sarah was born in Cumbria and lives in Norwich. 

  • Jack Houston’s poetry has been published in a wide range of literary magazines and in a few anthologies, been shortlisted for the Basil Bunting and Keats-Shelley Prizes and taken 2nd Prize in the 2017 Poetry London Competition. He works within Hackney’s Libraries where he has held a range of poetry events, most recently an online Lockdown Poetry Workshop. He also teaches a poetry writing course for a local chapter of Age UK. As a mature student, he received a BA in Creative Writing from London Metropolitan University and then went on to receive an MA in Writing Poetry from the Poetry School / Newcastle University. Jack is from, and still lives in London. 

  • Eley Williams lectures at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her short story collection Attrib. and Other Stories (Influx Press) won the James Tait Black Prize and the Republic of Consciousness Prize. The Liar’s Dictionary (William Heinemann) is her debut novel and is published this year. Eley was born in Chiswick and lives in Crouch End, London. 


  • The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University (NSSA) celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2020 with the aim to expand opportunities for British writers, readers and publishers of the short story and honour and celebrate the UK’s finest exponents of the form. James Lasdun secured the inaugural Award in 2006 for ‘An Anxious Man’. In 2012, when the Award expanded internationally for one year, Miroslav Penkov was victorious for his story, ‘East of the West’. Last year, the Award was won by Jo Lloyd for her story The Invisible’. K J Orr, Sarah Hall, Cynan Jones, Jonathan Buckley, Julian Gough, Clare WigfallKate Clanchy, Ingrid Persaud and David Constantine have also carried off the Award with authors shortlisted in previous years including Zadie Smith, Jackie KayHilary Mantel, William TrevorRose Tremain and Naomi Alderman.

  • The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University is open to authors with a previous record of publication who are UK nationals or residents, aged 18 years or over. The story entered must either have been unpublished or be first published or scheduled for publication after 1st January of the previous year. The story should have a maximum of 8000 words and must have been written in English. The Award offers £15,000 for the winner and £600 to four shortlisted writers. For more information please visit

  • BBC Radio 4 is the world’s biggest single commissioner of short stories, which attract more than a million listeners. Contemporary stories are broadcast every week, the majority of which are specially commissioned throughout the year 

  • The mission of the University of Cambridge is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. To date, 107 affiliates of the University have won the Nobel Prize. Founded in 1209, the University comprises 31 autonomous Colleges, which admit undergraduates and provide small-group tuition, and 150 departments, faculties and institutions. The University sits at the heart of one of the world's largest technology clusters. The 'Cambridge Phenomenon' has created 1,500 hi-tech companies, 14 of them valued at over US$1 billion and two at over US$10 billion. Cambridge promotes the interface between academia and business and has a global reputation for innovation. The BBC National Short Story Award is being supported by the School of Arts and Humanities, Faculty of English, University Library and the new University of Cambridge Centre for Creative Writing which is part of the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, which provides a range of part-time and courses to members of the public.

Tuesday 8 September 2020

Future Rereads... Maybe...

If you read my "Ten Years of The Pewter Wolf" post at the start of the year, you might have read a small paragraph where I said I would like to try and reread some books from my early blogging days. And while I have done some rereads (at the time of writing this posts, I have reread around 11 books - check out the #re3 tab to see some of my rereads this year and back in the past (up to around 2013 when I started #re3), I've not done some of the titles I had in mind. So, here's a small post, chatting about SOME of the titles I have my eye on trying to reread by the end of this year/end of next year (2021).

Now, some of these titles I have read and reviewed on the Pewter Wolf and others were before Pewter Wolf began. Plus, am going to pick a few that you might not see coming and only going to give you a few titles as the rest I want to be a surprise to you and to myself. As you are probably aware, I don't do monthly TBR posts... though maybe I should for a while...

Getting away from the point of this post!

Friday 4 September 2020

Texts From Dad Blog Tour - Guest Post

BLOG TOUR ALERT!!! And it's a little different from my normal as this is for a non-fiction title.

I know, what have I become?!

Anyway, I was asked if I wanted to be involved in this, read the blurb, laughed and said yes very quickly.

Texts from Dad is a collection of daily texts sent from a father to his daughter, detailing 57 days of lockdown due to COVID-19. And then, these texts go viral...

Of course I had to say yes to be involved in this blog tour! I mean, come on!

Now, I have a guest post from Peter Barber, texter at large, chatting about this book as I am thrilled to be sharing it with you guys! But, before I do, I just want to thank him for writing this post. I, also, want to thank Blue from Kaleidoscopic for asking if I want to be involved in this tour! 

Ok, with all them out of the way, OVER TO YOU PETER!

Wednesday 2 September 2020

#re3 - Illuminae

Ok, I did warn you that I might mix things up on the Pewter Wolf and on my Goodreads ( for the next few months, till I find my groove back with reading and blogging (this is a strange new time!), but after listening to the audiobook of Illuminae (a reread, as first read it back in 2018), I knew I wanted to talk about this so, let me get the typical “Here’s all the Info/links” rubbish out of the way and we can talk! 

  • Title And Author: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • Publisher: Rock The Boat
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Bought
  • Length: 608 Pages or 11 Hours 40 Minutes

Now, I’ve already read this so this is a reread and I know most of you guys have read this as you are much better readers than me, but if you haven’t, Illuminae is a bit of a weird one. But in a good way. Stay with me with this as I try (and fail) to explain this. 

The year is 2527 and two megacorporations are at war over a tiny, ice-speck of a planet. Shame no one thought to warn the people on the planet. As enemy fire falls down on them, Kady and Ezra must make their escape to the evacuating fleet. There, they will be safe. Right? 

Wrong. A deadly plague has broken out on one of the ships and is mutating, the ships’s AI has gone AWOL and the enemy ship that was destroying the planet is chasing them, wanting to kill them all. And no one is saying or doing anything. Kady knows her way round computers so she decides to hack their computers to find the truth, but soon realises that she needs one person’s help: Ezra. Yet, there’;s a problem with that: they broke up mere hours before all this crazy started and she’s not sure she wants to talk to him…

Tuesday 1 September 2020

September 2020 TBR

I don’t do Monthly TBRs. I never stick to them. I am very much a mood reader, as you guys can probably tell from how I pinball around genres. But, I want to try this out for a month or two, see if it keeps me on track on one or two books. 

Now, before I go further, I want to say that I am not going to list EVERY book/audiobook I want to read/listen to this month. That will defeat everything. I want to say one or two titles, maybe three at a push. This is because I am a little of a slow reader, normal life is slowly returning (define “normal life” lately) so I will have to adapt my reading to that, I have a ton of preorders coming out this month and I’m very much a mood reader so I want to be flexible! Plus, it’s nice to surprise you guys with a curveball once in a while… 

But, there are a few titles I do want to try and read/audiobook this month for one reason or another. So, am going to reference these now and, hopefully, will stick to my reading plan.

I can’t go any further without mentioning To Sleep In A Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini. Quick backstory time. I preordered the audiobook version of this at the beginning of the year, but I was very kindly sent a limited edition Advance Reader Copy of this, and I planned to read this and Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer back-to-back last month. However, Midnight Sun (which I thought I would fly through) is taking longer than I thought so this is on backburner. I suspect that I will be starting to read this again at the end of the month so I might go quiet for a while. You have been warned. 

But the first book I want to mention on here is The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. I know, I’ve never read Lord of the Rings and while I have no need to, I put this on my Amazon Wishlist MONTHS ago as I kept going “I do want to read Tolkien. Or, at least, attempt to.” I kept getting pulled to it. And someone very kindly gifted it to me (thank you!). But the main reason I want to read it (or attempt to) is because two booktubers I love are doing a readalong to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings - #TolkienALong. And seeing as I missed another readalong of The Bone Season by Samatha Shannon, I REALLY want to do this one, just to say I have read the Hobbit and see everyone’s reactions to it. I will put announcement videos from both booktubers down below! 

Another title I want to try and read this month is The Hungry Ghost by H.S Norup. I don’t know much about this book. I got a copy of it via NetGalley and I want to try and read it this month as I really like the cover and, because of cover, I might be involved in a possible blog tour for this book next month so, for once, I want to be ahead of the game! It’s rare, I know, but I want to try! And because I might be involved in tour, I don’t really want to say much about it, but it’s a middle-grade and set in Singapore at the time of the Hungry Ghost Festival. 

Third and final book - ok, audiobook - I would like to read/listen to this month is Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. In a few days times, you will read my write-up of my reread/listen of Illuminae and because of this, I bought audiobooks 2 and 3 in the trilogy and hope to audio them by end of the year! Gemina follows two new characters, Hanna and Nik, two teens so far removed from each other on the Heimdall space stations, little realising that Kady and the space ship, Hypatia, is coming towards Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion (from Illumanae)… 

That’s all I am going to admit here and now. I do have a ton more books/audiobooks I want to read this month, but like I said, I want this to be causal and relaxed so I have room to be a mood reader. Plus, if doing this the next few months works, I might do a small TBR Jar next year of 12 titles. But it all depends on how this works out so, we shall see…