Isobel Brown has been shortlisted for the London Magazine short story award. She will be attending a champagne reception in the House of Commons in March when the winners will be announced.
Her shortlisted story, Musical, grew out of coursework she created for her MA when she was studying the work of Katharine Mansfield with tutor, the poet and novelist, Kate Clancy.
Prelude, describing Mansfield’s fictionalised childhood experience of moving house to the seaside, and the mysterious complexities of the adults’ relationships, triggered memories of my own childhood holidays in Anglesey, and the fear my mother’s powerful trained singing voice evoked in me. What else was secret, if that sound was inside her?
Musical is a story that is mainly told through Molly, the child’s, consciousness, as she observes her mother, Kathleen (‘wife resplendent’); and sometimes through the eyes of Derek, the father. In her tutorials with Kate Clanchy, Isobel was encouraged to play with tense and time, and this resulted in a critical point in the story where, observed by Molly, Kathleen stoops to pick up a note pushed through the letterbox. The text swings into the present tense as a way of making time almost stand still, to signal the creation of memory.
Isobel revised the story slightly before submitting it for the competition after taking on board her tutors’ suggestions; but it was their appreciation of it that gave her the confidence to submit it to the London Magazine prestigious competition.