Between the lines

12th September 2003 at 01:00
TES books editor Geraldine Brennan on the inside literary track Save Our Short Story must be a cause that everyone can support - and you won't find the campaigners for this endangered species ringing you up during your evening meal to solicit funds. In fact they're not after your money. If you register at you get two new stories by established fiction writers in your inbox every month for nothing. One of the launch stories is called "The Education Officer" ("I am the education officer. I always know what to say," Ali Smith's just-turned-40 narrator reminds herself). The site seeks to alert publishers, agents and readers to the potential of the short story form and inform writers about outlets for their work.

The road to hearing your own short story read on Radio 4 is also the pilgrims' route to Canterbury. See to submit a 2,000-word story set in contemporary Britain and based on one of the six Canterbury Tales by Chaucer adapted for the current BBC drama series.

Following James Nesbitt's seductive con artist in the new-look "Miller's Tale" this week, Julie Walters reinvents the Wife of Bath (right) on Thursday (September 18, BBC1, 9pm). Get Writing submissions can be based on one of these tales, or those of the Sea Captain, the Man of Law, the Knight or the Pardoner. The BBC site has excellent support materials.

Choose your backdrop for exploration of the child's psyche in the first Young Minds book award (pound;3,000 for the book "which best portrays something of the unique subtlety of being a child"). It's grungy north London for Helen Falconer's Sky High (Faber) and Isabel and Rocco (Arrow Books), Anna Stothard's novel (written at 18) about a teenage brother and sister abandoned by their parents. Mikael Niemi settles on the north of Sweden through a vodka haze for the story of Matti in Popular Music (Flamingo): he wants to be a rock star, but ends up being a teacher.

Canadian psychologist Catherine Gildiner (Flamingo) evokes her Fifties childhood in a small town near Niagara Falls, and The Speckled People by Hugo Hamilton (Fourth Estate) is a fictionalised memoir of growing up in Dublin in the 1950s and 1960s with an Irish nationalist father and German mother. In the Australian bestseller Our Father Who Art in the Tree by Judy Pascoe (Penguin), 20-year-old Simone looks back on the aftermath of her father's death when she was 10. The winner collects on November 7.

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