Saboteur Spotlight: Best Short Story Collection 2021, Love Stories for Hectic People by Catherine McNamara

Congratulations on your recent win at the Saboteur Awards Festival 2021! How did you feel when you found out that you’d been shortlisted this year?

I was amazed – I realise I’ve been over-using this word! Love Stories for Hectic People is a tiny, sharp and uncomfortable book and I wasn’t sure it could be possible prize material. I know it might not be for everyone. And yet the support and enthusiasm that have been coming back to me have been so heartening! It’s very difficult to touch a collective nerve with a book of flash/short fiction. For some it’s too brief, for others I know there were certain shocking aspects. So to go on and win the Saboteur Award has really made my year. I’m immensely grateful to the many people involved in this process.

Do you feel the pandemic has impacted your work at all; made it harder, or perhaps even easier, to reach people and to promote what you’re doing?

It’s true some things have been made harder, but others have glided along. I would say that being homebound has robbed me of distractions (except for a second-life handbag compulsion) and made me commit to the page. No excuses. It has been peaceful and simplifying. I was also asked to teach regularly and this made me up my game and really glean a lot of enjoyment out of critiquing and mentoring. Which also allowed me to share my work, especially Love Stories for Hectic People. A lot of my students write flash fiction so it has been a way of consolidating and expanding my interest in the form. I’ve been UK flash Friday editor for Litro for five years.

Are you working on anything at the moment that you might be able to tell us a little about?

I am working very fitfully on a novel rewrite. I thought it would be like climbing a mountain. But it’s more like climbing a mountain range. I miss writing flash fiction like I miss old hilarious friends, the ones you share the best in-jokes with. So I am secretly venturing into a new collection of these.

Of course, one of the real shortfalls of not being able to run a live awards show is that people miss out on the opportunity to share an acceptance speech. While you’ve got the platform to, is there anything you’d like to share with readers about your win?

The main thing I would wish to say is thank you – to you! To all of the organisers, to my publisher, to everyone who voted and believes in little stories making their way out into the world. I’d like to mention the long journey from the first ventured words on the page, through conviction, passion, wonder – and their opposites – all of which appear through the various stages of writing, editing, submission and publication. And how writers who support writers are the most wonderful people, how magazine editors and book reviewers are tireless and selfless, and publishers even more. So I would probably rave about all of these things and then look forward to having drinks with the other short story finalists and everybody else!

You can keep in touch with Catherine, and discover more details about her work, by following her on social media. On both Twitter and Instagram she can be found under the handle @catinitaly. You can also find out more information through Catherine’s website, available here. For now, though, a huge congratulations to Catherine for winning the award for Best Short Story Collection 2021!

Keep a look out this Sunday, May 30, for the next in our spotlight series.