Jools Abrams

Jools Abrams

“Girl in the Mirror began life as a short story called Crinoline Lady which I entered at the last minute into the Wasafiri International Life Writing Prize in 2017. It won. I’d thought maybe the story could be stretched out into a novel, a life story loosely based on the framework of the life of my nan in Manchester, either side of the second world war. I never intended to write historical fiction but given the experience of writing over 28 memoirs as a ghost writer, I was immersed in the field. As part of the prize, Wasafiri offered me an Arts Council bursary to work with TLC on their Chapter and Verse programme. I was paired with a mentor, the excellent Kerry Hudson, and submitted chunk after chunk of writing over a year. Kerry got what I was trying to do, make a novel in biographical form, and she understood the characters and the story, and the deadlines kept me on track. TLC’s help was invaluable in getting to a manuscript stage.” From the Introduction

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“The winter wind had bitten through her thin coat. She hung it in the wardrobe and fingered the worn astrakhan collar. It was time for a new one. A small surge of positivity and productivity drove her to a dusty shoe box below her Singer sewing machine. One of her Butterick patterns was double-breasted, she was sure of it. Maybe with a bolt of flannel from the market she could make something in the Cossack style. She carried the box downstairs and turned the radio on to listen to the Light Programme. Charlie Melville was playing some new jazz from America, a gravelled voice singing ‘Mack the Knife’. She liked it. Liked listening to the story the lyrics told. The danger and menace about a shark and his sharp teeth.” From ‘The Girl in the Mirror’– included in the showcase

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