Episode 18: 2023 Short Story Prize winner K. Lockwood Jefford

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For episode 18, Kate Ellis spoke to K. Lockwood Jefford, winner of the 2023 Brick Lane Bookshop Short Story Prize, about her story ‘Kissing in Berlin’, how she edits, what she’s reading and her advice for writers looking to enter this years’ competition.

K. Lockwood Jefford 2023 Short Story Prize winner

K. Lockwood Jefford is a Welsh writer & former NHS psychiatrist. Her work appears in Prospect Magazine, MIR online & many short story prize anthologies, including the Bristol, Fish, Rhys Davies and Aesthetica. Awards include VS Pritchett Prize (2020), 1st prize, Bath Short Story Award (2021) & 3rd prize, Brick Lane Bookshop (2020). She recently completed her first collection of short fiction.

Show notes:

Cynan Jones, Laurie Lee, Dylan Thomas, Irenosen Okojie, Eley Williams, Sara Baume, Chris Power, Josephine Rowe, Persephone Book of Short Stories, Celine and Julie Go Boating

Podcast music is by Andrew Everitt

Here’s more from K. Lockwood Jefford on Kissing in Berlin

BLB: What’s your story about?

KLJ: It’s about bombs, buttons, and Berlin, in the context of an uneven relationship between two women, Celesta and Hetty. The story began during lockdown in an online short story workshop organised by the Berlin-based literary magazine, The Berlin Reader. As a prompt for a character, we were asked to select a button from a photograph of many. This led me to the cocktail dress Celesta buys in a Prenzlauer Berg vintage shop – the rest grew from there.

  • Bombs identify a time around which the story spins, while the narrative tracks the threat of the emotional bombs of crushing rejection and/or abandonment that we risk when we invest and trust in others, or make an attachment.
  • Buttons function to attach, and Gurnaik Sohal’s comment on Kissing in Berlin, ‘a story of characters taking on different guises to hide or perform different versions of themselves, and of the buttons that hold these guises together coming off’ so aptly and poetically describes this.
  • Berlin is a city I’ve visited several times: its landscape shaped by its history of ambivalence and conflict and how it’s responded over time – the wall, greening over the rubble of war. ‘Plant blindness’ – one of the many fascinating areas I came across in researching aspects of the story, offers another metaphor for relationships – neglectful or nurturing?

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