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Sabbie Dare and Friends

I have been writing fiction since my reception teacher, Mrs Marsden, put a paper and pencil in front of me. I can remember thinking; What? Do real people write these lovely books? I want to do that! I gained an MA in creating writing and sold my first books for children; Sweet’n’Sour, (HarperCollins) and Tough Luck, (Thornberry Publishing), both from Amazon. I also love writing short stories and they regularly appear in British anthologies. I now write crime fiction, published by Midnight Ink. The idea for In the Moors , my first Shaman Mystery came to me one day, in the guise of Sabbbie Dare. She came to me fully formed and said; “I'm a young therapist, a shaman, and sometimes I do get very strange people walking into my therapy room. Honestly, I could write a book about some of them...” I am a druid; a pagan path which takes me close to the earth and into the deep recesses of my mind. Shamanic techniques help me in my life - in fact they changed my life - although, unlike Sabbie, I’ve never set up a therapeutic practice...I’m too busy writing and teaching creative writing with the Open College of the Arts. I’m a fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Although I was born, educated and raised my two children in the West Country, I now live in west Wales with my husband James. IN THE MOORS, the first Shaman Mystery starring SABBIE DARE was released in the US in 2013 and UNRAVELLING VISIONS will be out this autumn, but you can already reserve your copy on Amazon. Join me on my vibrant blogsite, http://www.kitchentablewriters.blogspot.com where I offer students and other writers some hard-gained advice on how to write fiction.

The £30,000 Bailey Women’s Prize for Fiction

The £30,000 Bailey Women’s Prize for fiction often has a far more readable list of nominations than either the Costa or the Man-Booker – celebrating, as it does, "excellence, originality and accessibility".

Here are the books on the longlist…not too long, either for the avid reader to gobble up… 

In KTW order of merit: 

 (drum roll please:) 


  • Ali Smith - How to be Both (winner of the Costa Novel prize) 
  • Sarah Waters - The Paying Guests  (British Book Awards Author of the Year
  • Anne Tyler - A Spool of Blue Thread (Pulitzer Prize winner)
  • Emma Healey - Elizabeth is Missing (winner of the Costa 1st Novel prize)
  • Samantha Harvey - Dear Thief  (previously shortlisted)
  • Rachel Cusk - Outline  (previously shortlisted)
  • Xiaolu Guo - I Am China (previously shortlisted)
  • Lissa Evans - Crooked Heart (previous Orange Prize shortlist) 
  • Jemma Wayne - After Before (debut novel)
  • Sara Taylor - The Shore (debut novel)
  • PP Wong - The Life of a Banana (debut novel)
  • Patricia Ferguson - Aren't We Sisters?
  • Emily St John Mandel - Station Eleven
  • Grace McCleen - The Offering
  • Sandra Newman - The Country of Ice Cream Star
  • Heather O'Neill - The Girl Who Was Saturday Night
  • Laline Paull - The Bees
  • Marie Phillips - The Table of Less Valued Knights
  • Rachel Seiffert - The Walk Home
  • Kamila Shamsie - A God in Every Stone

Previous winners include personal favourites of mine, such as Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-formed

Madeline Miller, previous winner

 ThingThe Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller, Zadie Smith for On Beauty,


Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin, Anne Michael’s Fugitive PiecesHalf a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Andrea Levy’s Small Island.


I loveHow to Be Both by Ali Smith. It’s almost two stories, intertwined, with more than 500 years separating the characters - one a Renaissance painter, secretly female, the other a modern teenager living in the UK and desperately in need of some love.  Smith suggests you can read them in either order, but I would strongly suggest you start with 'camera' not 'eye' as you're far less likely to give up! "As always, Smith is being playful and inventive 's work. How to be both, almost  eludes description, which I’m sure was the very effect Smith was aiming at. It’s well worth the slight struggle although not my favourite; The Accidental will remain that.

Sarah Waters, in The Paying Guests,  combines many thematic ingredients class, gender, economic dependence, morality, suspense, and of course lesbian romance. This story is perhaps less well plotted than her others; she so well known for her amazing twists that I felt quite let down when I finally realized there wasn’t really going to be one. Even so, powerfully written. 

Anne Tyler is a perennial favourite of mine, right since I read Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. http://www.nytimes.com/1982/03/14/books/funny-wis-and-true.html. So far my favourite is probably Patchwork Planet, so I can’t wait to get started on  A Spool of Blue Thread, her twentieth novel to see if it can top my personal poll.

Also on the list is Emma Healey's Elizabeth is Missing . This is what my agent calls a ‘high concept novel’. In other words it defies the traditions and orthodoxes of crime fiction but is, none-the-less, a complete page turner, which, like everyone else, I couldn’t put down.

This year's judges include the prize's first winner Helen Dumore, Channel 4 News's Cathy Newman, columnist and broadcaster Grace Dent and Laura Bates, who founded The Everyday Sexism Project. Chair, Shami Chakrabarti, said this year was "particularly strong" for women's fiction. The judges must now whittle these 20 books down to a shortlist of six, before choosing an overall winner to be announced on 3rd June 2015. http://www.womensprizeforfiction.co.uk/2015/baileys-womens-prize-for-fiction-announce-2015-longlist-3   I wish them a clear head as they deliberate between these fine pieces of fiction.

Source: http://kitchentablewriters.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/revealed-20th-bailey-prize-for-fiction.html