Meeting writers on the page since 1996


Melanie Gilbert

“As soon as we leave the building he lights a cigarette and puffs hungrily. He sags against the wall, spent. I feel pretty much the same, overwhelmed on his behalf, and relieved that the session of half-sentences and near-tears is over, for both of us. The bell has sounded, and school is out. We are released from the strain of trying to find a reason why; it is more than enough just to taste a cigarette, and feel the wind on your face as you step outside, and know that you are still living. The rest is too difficult to tackle.”

From ‘Starfish’ – included in the showcase

That first manuscript, as several agents kindly told me, was messy, perhaps not surprisingly. A very lovely reader at TLC gave me feedback and off I went again, pursuing the thread I was after. I was a runner up in the Bridport Prize in 2016, which kept me going – but runner up, not winner, and still Starfish was going nowhere. I went back to TLC. This second reading was tougher, but helpfully so. After some painful but necessary editing and some plot changes, Starfish is now finished. Or at least, I am finished, so it must be. From the Introduction