Sunday 25 January 2009

Celebrity Short Story Finalists

The three finalists in the Steffi McBride Celebrity short story competition range in age from fourteen to sixty, which I guess just goes to show how all-pervasive celebrity culture is now, and also that the urge to write arrives early and does not dim with the years.
At fourteen, Nicole Hendry is probably a more typical Steffi McBride reader and the one who you would most expect to be wrapped up in the spell of celebrity culture, so much of which is marketed directly towards girls of her generation. Yet both the other finalists are linked in other ways; Veronica Ryder is a keen amateur actress and so understands the lure of the spotlight and Sue Clark is currently working as a writer for a consultancy which specialises in creating a marketing buzz through the use of new media – another link to the world of Steffi McBride.
In her story, “Do you Think It’s Fair? Nicole creates a real air of danger and potential evil with her sharp descriptions of how the forces of celebrity drive her heroine into the arms of anorexia. The incredibly sharp writing makes you long to find out more about the characters sketched in the background.
In “The Purple Peignoir” Sue Clark creates two very interesting characters, neither of which are obvious candidates for modern celebrity but one of whom, Eloise, may well turn out to be one of the founding mothers of the movement. If we knew more we would not only be able to enter the now relatively distant world of the Swinging Sixties, but we would also be able to see what happens to someone when their grip on the spotlight begins to weaken.
In ‘Losing Abby’ Veronica Ryder managed to surprise me several times with unexpected twists to the plot and being the father of an ingĂ©nue actress/singer myself I recognise all too clearly the mother’s description of how she feels she is losing Abby to the lure of spotlight.
Having to put aside the seven others from the short list was just as horrible as I expected. I feel sure that many of them could still be worked up into successful novels and I hope all the authors will feel sufficiently encouraged by their success to want to give it a go.
Interviews with the three finalists will be going up on the Steffi McBride website this week and now all I have to do is decide which of them should be the overall winner.

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