Monday, 9 July 2012

Short Stories and the CWA Dagger

I wasn’t able to attend the CWA Dagger Awards last Thursday, for pleasant reasons I’ll describe in my next post. I was, however, thrilled to learn that the CWA Short Story Dagger was shared between Cath Staincliffe and Margaret Murphy for their stories from our Murder Squad anthology, Best Eaten Cold and Other Stories, published by The Mystery Press.

Over the years, I’ve had the great fortune to edit books in which a good many stories have appeared which went on to be shortlisted, and quite often to win, awards both here and overseas. This year was, though, the first time that four stories appearing in books I’d edited had featured on the same shortlist. Very nice to get a bit of vicarious glory, and even nicer to have a hand in bringing some fine stories to the attention of readers.

It isn’t easy to persuade publishers to take short stories or anthologies. They do not often sell well. I’m not really sure why. It has never been easy – it’s not just a new phenomenon. And at least the internet is making some short stories more accessible than ever before.

A final word about Murder Squad. The group came into being back in 2000, and despite a few personnel changes, remains highly cohesive. I’m glad to be associated with writers of distinction who also happen to be, without exception, delightful people.


Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - I agree with you that short stories are a terrific form of writing. I'm not nearly as familiar with what's out there in terms of crime fictional short stories as you are, but those with which I'm familiar show quite a lot of talent. It's not easy as you say to write a good short story.

BV Lawson said...

Congratulations, Martin! I guess this shows that both your taste and editing skills are impeccable. And thanks for helping support short crime fiction, which as you say, doesn't always get the attention it deserves.

seana said...

Congratulations, Martin. And I agree with the perplexity of why short stories aren't more popular. After reading many in childhood, I kind of lapsed myself, but seem to have drifted back toward them, luckily for me!

Roger Cornwell said...

Like you, I'm thrilled that Cath and Margaret have won, and all credit to them.

But I don't think you should call it 'vicarious glory' - as I wrote on the page on the CWA website about the Dagger 'If there were a Dagger for best editor Martin Edwards would be a shoo-in this year as two of the other four stories on this year’s shortlist ... were in Guilty Consciences edited by him and published by Severn House.'

There's a reason that the stories in the books edited by you win prizes, and it isn't good luck. You deserve some credit and you should take it.

Marina Sofia said...

Writing crime short stories is incredibly hard - something I wouldn't dare to attempt myself. Something that even good crime novelists are afraid to tackle. So well done to both writers and editors for such a great job!

Paul Beech said...

Hi Martin,

Intriguing, isn’t it, this question of why novels should be so much more in demand than short stories?

With the hectic pace of life these days you’d think people could find time for short stories more easily than the whopping great blockbusters that sell like hot cakes. So why’s it all the other way round?

Perhaps…modern-day stress leads not only to comfort eating but comfort reading as well, with a demand for ever more obese blockbusters?

Perhaps…with more concentrated writing making greater demands of the reader, those zonked out by their daily grind want simply to lose themselves in a wodge of print, where it doesn’t really matter if they snooze their way through the odd paragraph, rather than apply themselves to a beautifully crafted short where every word and comma tells?

Perhaps…it has to do with the way we use books. Good shorts demand re-reading, so collections and anthologies become much treasured “dip into” books with a permanent place on our shelves. Blockbusters, once read, tend to become doorstops pending replacement by the author’s next tome in the fullness of time! Hence, greater demand for the latter.

I’m glad shorts are becoming increasingly available on the web but really hope that quality print collections and anthologies continue as well. Yours are great, Martin, with such exciting juxtapositions of talent.

Congratulations to Cath Staincliffe and Margaret Murphy on their shared CWA Dagger. Congrats, also, to their most perspicacious editor in ‘Best Eaten Cold’!



Martin Edwards said...

Many thanks for your kind comments.
Roger, I'm very grateful as ever!