Top 25, December 2012 Fiction Open: Top 25 — Glimmer Train (@glimmertrain)

Twitter: @michelcrossan


I am a writer. I live in Scotland.

In the past I was an industrial photographer.

Summertime, I like open water swimming. I’m a member of a team who swim in lochs and rivers and the sea.

I like cycling. I have a tourer bicycle. There are mornings I load the panniers and tail the coastline. Pass the day on the bike. Fat miles. I’ve done my share of 100 milers. Cycling is a favourite spring/summer passtime.

Wintertime I write and read and play chess and swim at a health club.

My parents and grandparents were readers.

My mother and gran and grandpa were serious readers. Read the big novels.

Mother read the Russian and Asian and South American authors. She loved Scots and English and Welsh and Irish authors. And the poets. She cherished James Joyce and Joan Didion.

There wasn’t a crossword she couldn’t solve. She was a cryptic specialist.

Boyhood, I liked folklore stories. The dark ones. Black deeds of connivers, pot stirrers, forest peddlers and child-hater witches.

Memorable childhood books –

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken.

Watership Down by Richard Adams.

The Narnia books by C.S. Lewis.

The Just William books by Richmal Crompton.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White.

Roald Dahl.

The Brothers Grimm Tales.

On my tenth birthday, grandpa’s gift was a Jack London anthology.

Jack London lit my life.

Bedtime, I lived Alaska. I heard midnight wolves call at the moon. I saw gold prospectors, the good and sourhearted, gibber crazed and beaten in the white wild.

Reading Jack London, my want to write overwhelmed me. Within a month of reading him I had written a notebook of stories. Tucked in bed I read the stories aloud to my brothers and sisters.

I have written many stories. Enough to fill a dozen books. And perhaps a dozen stories that would make one good book.

Up the lane I joined a writers group. I learned about the craft and read more books. Past and contemporary authors. After six years I left the group.

I read and read and reread.

In 2011, I was shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize. And The Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award.

December 2012, my short story – Bone Dirt – was a Top 25 Finalist in Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open Prize.

I was happy.

Glimmer Train and The Paris Review and The New Yorker are the world’s top three literary journals. I think so.

The Fiction Open is Glimmer Train’s top prize. Unpublished writers take on established published authors.

My short story ‘Gomorrah Shade’ is a winner in the Fish Short Story Prize. The story will be in the Fish Anthology 2014. I’m delighted and honoured. The Fish Anthology is literary gold. Worldwide revered.

I’ll read ‘Gomorrah Shade’ at the West Cork Literary Festival. July word-days by the sea.

My novel – Eden Dust – is written. Three years work. Ninety thousand words.

My story combines naturalism – the way people talk and behave – and big unnatural, dehumanising situations.

How I describe my novel – Think esoteric Twin Peaks.

I’m near done with editing. I plan to submit the novel in September 2014.

My novel extract – First two chapters of Eden Dust – is published in Unthology 4 by Unthank Books. A prestigious short story anthology.

It was a proud day for me when my novel extract was selected by the editors in Cambridge. I am among fine authors in Unthology 4. I read at the book launch in November 2013.

I’ve posted an extract of Eden Dust here on my blog. The opening of Chapter One. It would be nice if you read it.

Unthank Books editor, Ashley Stokes, is a fine author of literary fiction.

There are authors I return to. Rereading them I remember the first time I read them. My age and place when I found them.

Novelists I return to…

Joseph Conrad; Leo Tolstoy; James Joyce; Ernest Hemingway; Samuel Beckett; Christina Stead; Carson McCullers; Carol Shields; John Steinbeck; Saul Bellow; Haruki Murakami; John Banville; William Gay; Colm Toibin; Denise Johnson; Cormac McCarthy.

Short story authors I return to…

Anton Chekhov; Jack London; Flannery O’Connor; Shirley Jackson; Sherwood Anderson; Ernest Hemingway; Katherine Mansfield; John Cheever; Edna O’Brien; Annie Proulx; Alice Munro; David Vann; George Saunders; Denis Johnson.

Hemingway was a fine novelist. But I think his master work is his Nick Adams short stories. And I’d say The Old Man and the Sea is a fat short story.

Poets; Emily Dickinson; Elizabeth Bishop; Robert Frost; Robert Tannahill; Robert Burns; Sorley MacLean; Seamus Heaney.

My favourite writer is Cormac McCarthy. I think his novel, Suttree, is a masterpiece.

I love Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children.

Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams is a precious read.

Margaret Atwood deserves every accolade.

Two books I often dip into…

Kilvert’s Diary.


A Life in Letters by John Steinbeck.

I like John Fante. I recommend his book, Ask the Dust.

Presently discovering Knausgaard.


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