Wednesday 9 August 2023

Julia Wood tells us about her involvement with CafeLit



What inspired me to write One Green Bottle? The story started out as a tale of a lonely old woman who talked to the clothes on her washing line believing it to be her son back from the war. I knew I wanted to write about dementia but that also I wanted to find a way to infuse it with humour, even where that humour has an undertone of sadness. I also knew I wanted to write in the Lancastrian/Mancunian dialect, as I think it’s a dialect that lends itself to a strong narrative voice. I used the metaphor of her son, as a green bottle and the song as a theme for a soldier in the war before I realised that the song Nine Green Bottles actually was used in that context historically! The rest of the story came out of that idea, that the focal point was mortality, that  sense of waiting for some kind of release.


I found out about Café Lit through Duotrope, which I have used to submit short stories.


I enjoy reading short stories; I particularly love the children’s stories by Oscar Wilde as they are so beautiful, really coming to life through the sharpness of the tales told. I also enjoy the stories of the horror writer Ramsey Campbell, and Henry James. For me, the appeal of short stories is that, as readers, we get a little glimpse into a world that is briefly presented to us, but when written well, a short story leaves the reader with an image, or an idea that stays with them because of how compact and focused they are.


I know of a creative café at Phoenix, Leicester, where people meet up in order to write, though I have never used it.


I began writing before I could read, literally at about two years old, when my mother would come in in the night and take down things I wanted to say. I have no idea if she kept them or what they said…I write mainly Women’s Fiction/Humour and humour is important to me because of its cathartic value, maybe especially in the face of struggle or tragedy, but I am also inspired by the wit of Oscar Wilde, Victoria Wood, and Alan Bennett. I grew up with Coronation Street and northern humour continues to play a part in my writing even when I am not writing in a northern dialect. For me , humour is anarchic, playing with life, playing with the rules, turning things upside down. Although I don’t consider myself a ‘political’ writer in any direct sense, I admire writers who use humour as a weapon to deconstruct societal norms because if people could take themselves less seriously the world would be a better place and there would be no wars.

 Here is a link to the anthology, In the Kitchen, in which my story, Written in Soup is included.      

 This link is for the Dark and Light anthology, in which my story, Daisy and Dolly’s Amazing Lockdown Adventure appears.


Julia's bio 

Julia Wood holds a Masters’ Degree in Continental Philosophy from Warwick University and has previously published a non-fiction book, The Resurrection of Oscar Wilde: A Cultural Afterlife (Lutterworth Press, 2007). She is a writer of Women’s Fiction and short stories, many of which have been anthologised.

Her women’s fiction/ comedy novel, The Adventures of Jenny Bean, aged 49, and an Awful Lot was longlisted for the Fiction Factory First Chapter competition (September 2022) and the Yeovil Literary Prize (June, 2023). The sequel novella, Jenny Bean, Calamity Queen, was short listed for the CWIP Prize (February 2023) and will be published in The Book of Witty Women anthology in September.

Her short story, One Green Bottle, has been selected to appear in The Best of Café Lit Anthology, 2023, and will be published in August this year.

Other short stories that have appeared in anthologies, include - Exhausting a Place in Leicester, (Lulu, September 2019), Songs for the Elephant Man (Mantle Lane Press, October 2019) and In the Kitchen, (Dahlia Press, 2020), Dark and Light Anthology (Rulers’ Wit, 2021) Resolutions (Bridge House Publishing, 2021), the Cafe Lit Online Magazine, The Anansi Archive, The Writers’ Foundry Review (2022) and Cerasus Magazine (Ed, John Wilks, Cerasus Poetry, London, 2023).

She has had stories shortlisted for, No Spiders were Harmed in the Making of this Anthology, 2020 and the Hastings Short Story Prize, 2020, and of course, the CWIP Prize (2023). She has been a regular contributor for Journals of a Pandemic, and Pendemic and has had a monologue performed by Make It Write. (September 2022)

She is a longstanding member of Leicester Writers’ Club.

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