Prose Introduction

by Fay Weldon

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It’s been a really good year! An excellent vintage. One of our best so far. Inside these covers you’ll find a great crop of new writers, rich not just in literary skills but in commercial awareness. Writers from the UK and all over the world – this year including Finland, Canada, South Africa – come to us with new inspiration, ideas, images.

In this year’s edition of the anthology history is rewritten, whole societies are rebuilt, the young face the world in YA tales even as werewolves take over, and the old and ill find good cheer in their infirmity. Unfamiliar social contexts come to life as a new energy emerges for the new international readership. That the world is large and that life is good seems to be this year’s message.

The sheer richness of imagery in some offerings astonishes me. If some of these stories don’t end up as multiple episodes on Netflix I’ll eat my hat. While at a different end of the literary scale there is material with which the TLS will have a field day.

Our graduates may not thank me for being compared to the grape harvest, but the word vintage does spring to mind: the ripest and best from the bough, pre-selected for excellence – wine from Bath Spa’s Corsham Court campus with its gracious Capability Brown grounds, its peacocks and giant yew hedges. (We’re actually in the servants’ quarters there but that’s where the real work was always done.)

The publishing industry may be ‘in crisis’ just now (though when was it not?) but vocational writers go on being born. We like to think we nab the best ones early, selecting at interview for talent, accomplishment, energy and enthusiasm for the job to be done.

The Bath Spa MA course is not easy to get into. Our graduate students understand they’re in a practical business as well as making art. They realise that though fine writing must be the goal, in novels something always has to happen: and pretty quickly too, if the reader is going to turn the page. Felicity of expression is important, but so is a good plot. And you won’t find our graduates resistant to editorial suggestion where change may be required – they’ve had plenty of that from us and they seem to like it!

In the 2019 anthology you will find the fresh stories, striking plots and nuanced characters the industry is looking for. They pour fully formed from the intelligent, imaginative, original and hardworking heads that have gathered in the fermentation vat of Bath Spa University Graduate School. Here’s where you’ll find the new Lee Child, JK Rowling, Ian McEwan, Gillian Flynn – so come to the party!