Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Short story success from Brookes' Creative Writing alumna, Mandy de Waal

Friday, 27 June 2014

Mandy de waal

Kit de Waal, one of our former MA Creative Writing students, has won second prize in the Bath Short Story Award 2014 with her story The Beautiful Thing.

Kit describes her story as “a true story told to her over many years and in many different ways” by her late father. ‘The Beautiful Thing’ was his phrase to describe a moment of kindness from a stranger which he never forgot and which enabled him to make a new life in England in the 1950s. Kit says that she was driven to write the story, which you can read the story in full on the Bath Short Story Award website, so that she wouldn’t forget what he used to say.

“Really strong story-telling perfectly paced and pitched. I love the father’s voice, and the way we move between New York, Antigua, the shoe shop and the kitchen is beautifully handled, and the ending is extremely well-done. Very good indeed.” Lucy Luck, Literary Agent and judge of 2014 Prize

The Bath Short Story Award success comes just months after Kit found herself shortlisted for the prestigious Costa Short Story Award with The Old Man & The Suit. This story, which is available both to read and listen to on the Costa website, was inspired, obviously, by Hemingway’s short novel ‘The Old Man & The Sea’ which she listened to four times as an audiobook before she thought she could try and emulate his style – spare but rich, factual, and from the heart.

Kit says that she owes her success to the friends and fellow writers that she met during her time on Oxford Brookes’ MA Creative Writing course. The group still meets up on the second Thursday of every month in Oxford to look at their work, hold it up to the light and see what shines. They have three things in common, their love of writing, their desire to improve, and the time they spent at Oxford Brookes.

Kit says: “I’ve had a marvelous year. Coming second in the Costa Short Story Award with The Old Man & The Suit and today finding out that I came second in the Bath Short Story Award with The Beautiful Thing, is in no small part due to the collective wisdom and critical eye of this committed group of writers. I’m also grateful to James Hawes for his insistence that I write and write and write – rather than pursuing further study – which isn’t always what I wanted to hear.  His ‘just do it’ approach has made me get on and write and enter competitions even when I had no chance of winning because it made me revise and edit and revise again until I could finally say ‘it’s done.’ It’s the same advice I would give to any writer who wants to be published. And read – don’t forget to read.”