Sue Wilsea

Sue Wilsea

Sue is a writer, teacher and performer. Over the years she’s had numerous stories, poetry and articles published in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies.

In 2010 she was selected by the Arvon Foundation as one of nine New and Gifted Writers (luckily the tag didn’t include the word young) which entailed being mentored by the Booker shortlisted novelist Romesh Guneskera. As a result a 6,000 extract from her novel was published in an anthology.

Staying Afloat, her collection of short stories, was published by the award winning Valley Press in June 2012 and a second collection is due in late 2016. In 2013 she won the Vogel short story competition and later that year graduated from Newcastle University with an MA in Creative Writing (Distinction).

Looked After was longlisted for the Mslexia first novel competition and Scarborough Warning was published in a Snow Books anthology. Recently Sue was shortlisted for the prestigious New Fictions prize and was one of the winners of Moth's Northern Crime Writing competition. Her prose pamphlet What's Underneath is soon to be published by Wombach Press.

Sue performs as part of a spoken word performance duo The Hull to Scarborough Line, playing venues all over North and East Yorkshire. The H2SL has been awarded three Humber Mouth commissions to produce original scripts and this autumn Take Back Your Freedom – the life and times of Winifred Holtby, and Return of The Remarkable Mr Rutherford were performed in Hull.

You can find her blogs at


Sue Wilsea in 60 seconds

When did you start writing?

Seriously in 1995 when I left teaching for the first time. I'd been on an Inset course to Robin Hood's Bay the previous year for aspiring Heads of Department. During the weekend I wrote a radio play and realised I didn't want to be (nor would ever be made!) a HoD. I'd studied and taught other people's words for so long – it was a bit of a revelation that I could do it myself!

What do you love about short stories?

The way they can can crystallise a moment, a relationship, an issue; that they are containable– both to write and read.

Do you write in other forms?

I've had a few poems published but they're mostly miserable and/or satirical – definitely serving a therapeutic purpose! I love drama and have had 3 stage plays performed, 2 at The Edinburgh Festival. Recently my one minute radio play was showcased at The Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.

What distracts you from writing?

Life. Everything from domestic chores to family commitments to a sunny day. Some things (family) should distract me, I think. Cleaning the bath probably shouldn't.

Outside of writing, what are your other passions?

The Theatre, The Green Party, good company (involving food and drink of similar high quality) Performing - I'm half of The Hull to Scarborough Line, a spoken word duo - and doing readings. Basically, showing off.

What is your favourite book?

Apart from the classics (especially The Brontes and Dickens but too many to list) my favourite book would be the last good one I've read. I'll rave about it to everyone and insist they read it too until the next 'favourite ever' crops up.

Who are your favourite writers?

Ann Tyler, Patrick Gale and George Eliot. Simply because they do what I dream of being able to.

Where is your dream location?

I love Cornwall and The Scottish Highlands but boringly I'm very happy where I live.

What one item would you put into Room 101?

People with ill -formed, and prejudiced opinions (but that might leave the planet seriously depopulated) so I'd also go for celery, whippy cream and property and house improvement programmes designed to make viewers dissatisfied.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Read a lot and write a lot. Don't listen to people who tell you it's very competitive and difficult to get published nowadays (that's true but still don't listen).

Work by Sue Wilsea:

Background Music
Sue Wilsea
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Opportunity could be about to knock for a young musician.
By the River
Sue Wilsea
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Terrible things happen down by the river: it is a place of despair where humans do their worst to each other. Yet it is also a place where ghosts can be laid to rest. In this story, originally published in Umber (2011), the voices of a bereaved 60 year old woman, a teenage boy who’s lost his way in life and a murdered Viking are woven into a dark story of revenge and tragedy.
The Summerhouse
Sue Wilsea
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David wants to give his wife Kate everything she didn't have before meeting him: security, a nice home, another baby. He wants to be a good step-dad to Josh and erase the memories of Tom, Kate's first love and Josh's father. But none of this seems enough for Kate and after the birth of their daughter she slips into depression, her only solace the run-down summerhouse at the bottom of their garden. When David discovers what he thinks is her betrayal he sets out on a path of destruction. (The Summerhouse, a novella, was shortlisted for Gateway's New Fictions prize in late 2014)

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