Claire Collison was a photographer and Arts Editor before focusing on writing. Her first novel, Treading Water, was a finalist in the Dundee Book Prize; her poetry and short stories are included in anthologies, and have won various competitions, including Woman’s Own short story, and Virago/Marie Claire. Claire currently teaches Creative Writing at the Mary Ward Centre, and facilitates creative writing and arts projects in diverse settings, including galleries, rivers and lidos. She has been a visual literacy facilitator for The Photographers’ Gallery, and was recently Tweet Poet in Residence at the Barbican. This summer she worked with London schools on the Thames Festival ‘Rivers Of The World’ project. Claire was one of the first recipients of the Max Reinhardt Literacy Awards. An archive of her course, Writing The City, can be found here: www.writingbloomsbury.wordpress.com
Claire Collison in 60 seconds
When did you start writing?I remember I made trees using the x on an old typewriter. I think I was too frightened to commit actual words to paper...
What do you love about Short Stories?The way they linger.
Do you write in other forms?Yes, I have written novels and I am currently writing poetry, but short stories are where I began to find my voice, and short stories are what I return to. When I started to get some success as a short story writer, agents got in touch and said, 'Nice, but where's the novel?' So I obediently went off and wrote one. But now, hopefully, the short form is is coming home.
What distracts you from writing?Everything.
Outside of writing, what are your other passions?Swimming, kayaking down little rivers, London, Andalucia, getting lost...
What is your favourite book?I've just been listening to all the New Yorker podcasts (I'm insomniac, and they are a godsend) Anne Enright reading John Cheever's 'The Swimmer' is a delight.
Who are your favourite writers?JD Salinger, Miranda July and Ali Smith
Where is your dream location?A desk in a shed on a warm lake.
What one item would you put into Room 101?LOL
Do you have any advice for new writers?Just write.
Work by Claire Collison:
"She recognises herself not with any rational sense, but with a pang of protective love for the three year old who grins at her from the living room wall." An unexpected twist in the closing frames of an old home movie sends Rose hurtling back to her childhood - a time and a place where no one else's parents were divorcing, and where stepmothers were as exotic as shop-bought cake. Revisiting her memories of glamorous part-time fathers and fortnightly treats, Rose unpicks the unspoken adult acrimony, and the childish confusion: "Each time they were returned to her with their bounty she was tight-lipped and unimpressed, flattening their ebullience to a shapeless guilt, their double bind of love and loyalty teaching them early to suppress their enthusiasm in her company." Dual Carriageway is about parents and children, and how complicated it all is.
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