After a Haiku workshop, led by Tim Gardiner, at her community writing group Colchester Writenight, Sue started to write some senryū*, hoping to use them in the novel she’s writing. For this haibun published in Failed Haiku, she coupled senryū with short prose.
*A senryū is a Japanese short poetry form, often consisting of 17 syllables written over three lines, and is quite similar to a haiku, except it tends to focus on the human condition rather than nature.
Spring 2021Janus Literary Story Prize Anthology Cover photo
Credit: “In Peril” by John Atkinson Grimshaw (1879) (Public Domain)
Sue’s story Salt tears was recently published by Janus Literary, in their Spring anthology, which can be accessed here. The idea for the story came from an exercise, penned over ten years ago. Sue used the deadline to rewrite the story, which she felt had been missing something. The theme ‘the dark, wild sea’ meant there were no barriers to how deep and dark she could go.
Sue recently won the ‘Language evolves’ speculative short story competition, hosted by Cardiff University. It wasn’t just a matter of creating a story but also imagining how humans learned to speak. Cardiff offered some free workshops with links to papers written about the subject to spark ideas. Sue wrote about olfactory communication, imagining what it must be like for an outsider, with this dominant form of communication, to view our society.
Sue Dawes’ flash fiction ‘The Undertaking’ has now been published in the Museum of Walking’s Winter Chill anthology. The idea for ‘The Undertaking’ came after Sue read a fascinating internet article about the life of a mortician, which then led to further research and the question: ‘What if?’ which is always a great place to start a story. It began as a much longer piece about a man who could only find love in death and was then reduced to flash fiction.The challenge was balancing the uncomfortable description of the studio and mortuary procedures, whilst leaving enough details of the crime for it to work.
‘Before the Fall’ is a short story by Sue Dawes about an old man whose pride gets in the way of his health. This story has had many forms, before finally finding a home in an anthology by Pure Slush Books, an independent Australian publisher.
Sue’s story ‘The out’, won second place in the April edition of the Writers’ Forum (out now). The judge described it as ‘a chilling tale of a woman torn by past loyalties and present dread.’ Originally shortlisted for a local crime competition, and with a year of drawer time, Sue rewrote it extensively before submitting. There’s a lot to be said for distancing yourself from a piece of writing in order to be able to look at your work critically. It also helps to have a judge that understands what you’ve tried to do.