Amongst other things lately, I've been co-judging the Mystery Women short story competition with my good friend Ayo Onatade, who happens not only to be a great fan of crime fiction, but also one of the most knowledgable and supportive readers around. We've found it far from easy to make our decision, but finally we've managed to do it.
I well remember entering my own work for competitions, before I ever had any fiction published. For example, I submitted an early version of what became the first chapter of All the Lonely People. It got nowhere. But eventually, I won one, and it did give me a great motivational boost for which I shall always be grateful.
So I don’t begrudge the precious time devoted to reading competition entries when I really ought to be writing my own fiction. It’s a genuine privilege to have the opportunity to encourage people who write good stories, and I think it’s also something that is very worthwhile.
In a different way, it’s a honour to have the opportunity to consider contributions to the forthcoming CWA anthology that I’m editing, Original Sins. Here, of course, the standards of writing are very high – as one would expect from professional writers. The real challenge is to decide which of the many submissions to omit from the book. That’s the bit I don’t enjoy, but on the other hand it’s a rare treat to be the first person to read a new story by, for instance, Christopher Fowler or Reginald Hill. And a honour.