George Saunders & me on BBC Radio 3

How Short is a Short Story?

This event was recorded at BBC 3’s Free Thinking Festival last weekend. It is a highlight of my career to share a stage with one of my writing heroes – George Saunders. You can listen to it here for the next 30 days. I also got to interview George after the event so look out for that.

As part of the festival Jenn Ashworth, Kirsty Logan and myself write some (very) short stories and you can listen to them here. The stories were commissioned by New Writing North and Word Factory.

George and me BBC 3

Here’s what BBC3 said:

George Saunders, Kirsty Logan, Jenn Asworth and Paul McVeigh discuss writing fiction short and long with presenter Matthew Sweet.
Acclaimed American short story writer George Saunders talks about travelling in time to explore Abraham Lincoln’s life during the American Civil War when the President’s beloved young son died. These historical events have inspired Saunder’s first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, whilst his short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, McSweeeney’s and GQ.

He compares notes on the art of the short story with Paul McVeigh, Jenn Ashworth and Kirsty Logan, who’ve been commissioned by New Writing North and the Word Factory to write Flash Fiction on this year’s Free Thinking Festival theme of The Speed of Life.

Kirsty Logan is the author of books including The Gracekeepers and The Rental Heart & Other Fairytales and a range of short stories.

Jenn Ashworth’s books include Fell, The Friday Gospels, A Kind of Intimacy and Cold Light and a selection of short stories.

Paul McVeigh has won prizes including the Polari prize for his debut novel The Good Son. Born in Belfast he is co-founder of the London Short Story Festival, writes a blog and has represented the UK at events in Mexico and Turkey.

Recorded in front of an audience as part of Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead.
The stories commissioned for the Festival are available to listen to as an Arts and Ideas podcast available for 30 days.

Trip to Turkey with The British Council

I’ve been invited to Turkey in February to represent the UK in the field of short stories. Last year I was lucky enough to travel to Mexico thanks to the British Council. I read at events, went on TV and radio and met Mexican authors like Monica Lavin (we did an interview for The Irish Times).

MLbuganvilias1 (1)

Monica Lavin


I also wrote an article for The British Council’s Voices blog “Is it better to be a short story writer or a novelist?”.

I’m a big lover of the short story and set up a blog a few years ago sharing articles, interviews and submission opportunities. I joined the wonderful Word Factory which has become the UK’s leading short story salon and am now the Associate Director. I went on to be the co-founder of the London Short Story Festival with Spread the Word in 2014.

Me, Deb Levy, SJ Naude, Marina Warner, Cathy Galvin

Me, Deborah Levy, SJ Naude, Marina Warner and Cathy Galvin at London Short Story Festival


I love meeting other writers and working with authors from different countries. I’ve always wanted to go the Istanbul too – I hope I get to visit there on my trip. A great piece of news to start the year. Hope yours is starting well too!

Looking Like a Pro – Reading Live

Reading for Word Factory at Waterstones Piccadilly this week was a whole lot of fun. It was great to read alongside friends and colleagues. I can remember only a couple of years ago being so terrified I stopped reading and froze after just a few lines. Now I look like a pro.


The ceiling was bouncing from the music and dancing above and below there were readings from authors such as Booker Prize-winner Marlon James. Lots to distract and get nervous about.


I say look like a pro because I never feel like one. I think it’s all a confidence trick. Just pretend you’re a pro and see what happens. Readings can be funny things – a mixture of ‘can’t wait for my turn’ and ‘please let me disappear’. My legs were shaking so badly I had to keep shifting from my front leg to my back leg so they didn’t give way completely. I couldn’t stand still or both legs. On the other hand – or rather, the top half – I was giving it my all. If I’m totally honest I was showing off. I got lots of great feedback from people who had seen me read before and no-one noticed. Not one. That’ll do for me. And I really enjoyed it.


One great piece of advice you’re given is that when reading you should make an effort to look up from the page. It drives the energy out, the audience see more of your ‘performance’ and with some eye contact they become more engaged. And I just found out – by looking up you could catch some images like this… people really having a good laugh. Strong and genuine reactions to your work.

Thanks to James Lawson for the pics. A video of the reading is coming soon… yikes!


Susie Wild Reviews The Good Son in Bare Fiction

Another wonderful review of The Good Son, this time from Susie Wild in Bare Fiction Magazine. Read the whole thing by clicking the link.

‘A vivid, playful, fence-hurdling, page-turning act of cocky bravado and endearing imagination. Mickey is a shining star of a protagonist; charming, erudite, and warmly, infectiously funny.

…a startling debut, McVeigh proves he more than warrants the literary company he keeps. The writing is sharp and the voice, a difficult one to sustain over a novel’s length, rarely falters. With pages so full of heart and helter-skelter movement, it is no surprise to learn that he also has a background in theatre. The pages of his first novel are alive with sparky dialogue and this visual language, the brash and the subtle, the compelling, the compassionate.

An engaging storyteller, I hope to see more from Paul McVeigh…’

You can hear me read from The Good Son Thursday Dec 3 at Waterstones Piccadilly at 6.30. For tickets to the Word Factory salon at the Waterstones Xmas evening email .


Waterstones Piccadilly Xmas Evening. Dec 3

My final reading of this year is in the biggest bookshop in Europe (it’s also rather beautiful) Waterstones Piccadilly, London, on December 3 at 6.30pm. It’s part of their Christmas celebrations and Word Factory have been asked to do a literary salon. You can read more about it here and here.

These are the other authors and events appearing at this special evening…

Booker-winner Marlon James

Virginia Baily
Laura Barnett
Rob Biddulph
Jonathan Coe
David Downton
Miriam Elia
Cathy Galvin
The Gentle Author
Zoe Gilbert
Christopher Green
Professor Green
Dave Haslam
Christopher William Hill
Conn Iggulden
Little Atoms
Paul McVeigh
Irenosen Okojie
Chris Riddell
Kristina Rihanoff
Polly Samson
Alice Stevenson
Music & song with La La Piano Bar
Music & poetry with Brudini & Chip Martin
Quiz from the QI elves
Colouring-in The Menagerie with the O’Mara team
The Word Factory Salon
Pop-up cake stall from Bluebell Kitchen
Stories from the Petit Prance
Dance with Scott Cupit & Swing Patrol
Cocktails from Mr Lyan and the Society Club

It’s a free event – all you have to do is book your place by emailing piccadilly@waterstones.comHope to see some you there.

Get writing! Get submitting! Get Published!

I’m Associate Director at the wonderful Word Factory. If you love short stories you should come along to the monthly event to hear the best short story writers in the world read their work and discuss the form.

Each month Word Factory produces a list of short story submission opportunities for writers and there’s also links to interesting resources. These are taken from my blog for writers which you find and have a look here.

Get writing! Get submitting! Get published!

PaulMcVeigh short story