Winning the Exeter Story Prize remains one of my fondest memories. Not just a writing moment, a life moment. Coming to creative writing in early middle-age, I was still very much on the learning curve. I’d completed my MA the year before so had lots of stories but no publications. My wife and I drove from Sussex and made a weekend of it, wondering at my chances of making the top three, but of course you have no idea. When Cathie read out my name, I was genuinely shocked and I still am. Luckily, I’ve won competitions since, but nothing quite compares with that moment.
It meant that I could write stories that people might enjoy. For all the kind words of friends, relatives and tutors, you never really know. To be judged the top story by three successful novelists mattered a great deal. It also gave me confidence in my method. Battle Town was born on a grey day in Perryville, Kentucky. I went there to find a story with no preconceptions. I just experienced the battlefield, the museum and crucially the town. As I was driving away the core of the story bubbled up, so strong that I turned around and drove back. That approach, of travelling in search of a story, of being open to finding one, I’ve used ever since.
Edit: You can find out more about Richard on his website HERE. His award-winning novel Whirligig Part 1 of his epic US civil war series is available HERE