Cynan Jones penned award-winning story in his mum's shed

From BBC - October 5, 2017

Like the short story that landed him a BBC literary award this week, Cynan Jones is just about as stripped back as it gets.

The Welsh author lives in a log cabin he built himself, has driven the same car for 14 years and writes, in longhand on an A4 pad, in his mother's garden shed.

Unsurprisingly, he expects the 15,000 he picked up with his BBC National Short Story Award for 2017 for his work, The Edge of the Shoal, to last him and his family "at least a year, maybe two".

Jones's wealth, he said, lies in the natural landscape that surrounds him in his home town of Aberaeron, Ceredigion.

"When I am in need of inspiration for my writing, I step out of mother's shed and walk 50 metres to the edge of a cliff where I can be immersed in this extraordinary Cardigan Bay landscape," says Jones.

"All of my stories have grown out of this landscape," he said.

"The idea for The Edge of the Shoal came from sitting on the edge of that cliff and looking out to sea.

"I thought, what would happen if I cast a man out there in a boat? The story was built in my mind while I sat there."

The story began as a 30,000-word novel but was "shaved down and shaved down" to 11,500 words because, Jones says, "it did not work".

The abridged version was liked by US literary magazine The New Yorker but was still felt to be "too long". Could he halve it? the magazine asked.

"So I had four days to more or less halve a story I would not have wanted anyone to cut by a single word," he says.

"I considered a stiff drink while I contemplated the task, but you can never drink and write.

"So I worked frenetically for four days, stripping out anything that was decorative and the result was a story that has now punched its weight in this BBC competition.


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