The Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist


The Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist Celebrates Excellence of Women Writers

Previously known as the Bailey’s Prize for Fiction (2013-2016) and the Orange Prize for Fiction (1996-2012), the Women’s Prize for Fiction announced their 2018 shortlist. The award celebrates “excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world.”

The shortlist, which includes three debut novelists, is as follows (with bonus links when possible):

Chosen by our brilliant 2018 judging panel, this year’s shortlist features one previously shortlisted author and three debut novels.

Sarah Sands, 2018 chair of judges and Editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme said: “The shortlist was chosen without fear or favour. We lost some big names, with regret, but narrowed down the list to the books which spoke most directly and truthfully to the judges,” said Sarah Sands, Chair of Judges.  “The themes of the shortlist have both contemporary and lasting resonance encompassing the birth of the internet, race, sexual violence, grief, oh and mermaids. Some of the authors are young, half by Brits and all are blazingly good and brave writers.”

Did your favourite make the cut? Join in the conversation on Twitter @WomensPrize

Find out more by following this link:


Women Write Now | International Women’s Day 2018


It is International Women’s Day 2018, and to mark this great day Waterstones is celebrating women writers past and present.

This International Women’s Day, as we celebrate 100 years of women’s right to vote in Britain, we bring together our selection of 100 books which represent the wealth and diversity of women’s writing throughout history. Historians, novelists, thinkers, activists, campaigners, scientists and politicians; pioneering women of the past, inspirational voices of the future.

There are some fantastic books available on their site, and if you are an avid reader like me then this is a great excuse to see what’s available and pick up a few more books.

Check out the store here even if it is just to admire the wealth of women writers available and be inspired by the many amazing things they’ve written over the years.

Happy International Women’s Day! x


Waterstones Women Write Now Campaign:

“What Does Your Husband Think of Your Novel?”| Jamie Quatro


The spring my first book came out – a collection of stories, several of which detailed an erotic but unconsummated emotional affair – I was invited to speak at an all-men’s book club. I was excited such a club existed in my town. I told them I’d love to come. Southern male readers of fiction with serious literary habits!

The meeting was held in the home of one of the members. About a dozen men showed up. We milled around and made the usual small talk. We ate good Mexican food and drank good Spanish wine and eventually gathered on sofas and chairs around the coffee table. I gave a brief talk about my “creative process” – something they’d asked me to discuss – and opened it up for questions.

No one said anything. Men shifted in leather cushions and flipped through their copies of my book. It was hot out. Someone kept opening and closing the sliding back door in little screechy increments. Maybe no one actually read it, I thought.

Finally the man sitting in the chair across from me flung his book onto the coffee table. “Okay,” he said, “I’ll just say it, because we’re all wondering the same thing: What in the hell does your husband think about your work?”

I can’t remember what came out of my mouth. Probably the laugh and the “he’s my first reader and he’s always been a hundred percent supportive” line I would grow accustomed to trotting out in the following months, when the same question surfaced again and again – from strangers after readings, from acquaintances in my town. What I do remember is what was happening inside my brain: What does my husband’s opinion of my book have to do with anything?

And: If I were a male fiction writer, writing about illicit sex, would you ask what my wife thought about my work?


Let’s be clear: “What does your husband think about your work” is a ruse. Beneath that query is the real question: Did you, the author, do the things the female character does in your narrative? If so, how’d you get away with writing about it? Isn’t your husband hurt? And aren’t you ashamed?

A general curiosity about the relationship between a writer’s real life and her fiction is natural. How does an artist work? I could argue that there’s a compliment behind the autobiographical query: if a reader feels I must have lived through an event, that tells me, in part, that I’ve written convincingly. And given the similarities between some of my characters and myself – a married woman with children who lives in the South – I understand how certain readers might assume there’s a comprehensive, one-to-one correlation between my fiction and my life.

But I don’t take these questions as compliments. Rather, they feel like expressions of doubt as to my imaginative capacities as an artist – specifically as an artist who writes about female sexual longing and transgression. I wrote about a woman who lives in the South with her husband and children while she battles cancer. Not one reader has asked me if I’ve had cancer. I wrote about a woman with children whose husband is a suicidal benzo addict, and who nearly gives up her religious faith because of it. Not one reader has asked if my husband is a suicidal benzo addict, or if I’ve nearly given up my faith because of it.

So why the questions about the sex often couched as curiosity about my husband’s response? Buried in these questions are four dubious assumptions:

1. It is more important and interesting to talk about you, the author behind the work, than it is to discuss the work itself.

It’s remarkable how quickly we turn our gaze from artifact to artist. When Walter Hooper asked C. S. Lewis if he ever thought about the fact that his books were “winning him worship,” Lewis replied, “One cannot be too careful not to think of it.” When you ask about my personal life, you’re missing the point. This finished book we’ve sent out into the world – that’s the pearl of great price. If we’re going to talk about anything, that’s the place we should start.

2. I recognize certain things in your work – the town where you live, the number of children you have – so everything else must be true as well.

Most writers aren’t interested in writing about what we’ve actually done. Most of us write to find out what it would be like to do things we haven’t done. It’s a chance to take the roads not taken. To solve mysteries, on the page, that we’ll never get to solve in our lives. The artistic imagination is a powerful thing. It’s all I have, the tool of my trade. I feel profoundly, ruthlessly protective of it. When a reader makes the assumption that a writer is simply recording the life she’s lived, that reader is discounting the artist’s primary gift.

Fiction begins with small, lower-case truths, then translates them into a larger lie that ultimately reveals the largest truths. “None of it happened and all of it’s true,” said Ann Patchett’s mother.

3. The way I feel reading your book must be the way you felt while writing it.

If you feel ashamed or aroused or uncomfortable reading my fiction, that’s bloody fantastic. That’s why I write: black marks on a white page reaching across time and space and palpably affecting another human soul. But how do you know I felt those same things when I was drafting? (Much less how my husband felt reading my drafts?) The passages that feel “confessional” or “erotically charged” to a reader might be the very places where I felt distanced or intellectually elated in the act of composition. And it was precisely because those were the places where the artistic imagination was free to roam.

A friend of mine who writes nonfiction told me she feels the same thing when people tell her they appreciate the “vulnerability” of her prose. Funny you think I was being vulnerable, she wants to say, because when I wrote that, I just felt like a fucking badass. 

4. A man who writes about sexual infidelity is normal, while a woman who does the same is morally suspect.

Here we reach the crux. The questions “how does your husband feel?” or “how autobiographical is your work?” actually mean, “did you commit these sexually subversive acts?” The assumptions and judgments are gendered. How are we still, in 2018, dealing with the notion that men think about illicit sex as a matter of course; but women – well, women should be more demure? If we’re going to live in a society where we aren’t taken advantage of and/or shamed in our personal and professional lives, surely we can begin by not shaming one another for our sexual imaginations. Or questioning that women are capable of that imagination to begin with.


Men, in particular, both mythologize and undermine female artists. But women do it to one another, too. On a recent press trip, a woman told me my latest novel, Fire Sermon, was “memoirish” and “confessional.” She said it blurred the distinction between life and art. This from a woman I’d never met. Yes, the character uses a confessional tone, I said. The character writes journal entries and prayers as ways to assuage her guilt, longing, and grief. Perhaps that’s what she meant by memoirish? But my novel was not a memoir. Those journal entries were not my own.

Last night, I did a Q and A with a local writing group. One of the first questions was from a woman: “You set a lot of your work locally … so is everything you write autobiographical?” I mentioned that I was, that very day, working on an essay about the question “what does your husband think?” “That’s what I wanted to ask!” she said.

Men, women: Let’s assume the female writer needn’t have lived out the narrative to write it. Let’s assume that she can have an imagination that is subversive and sexually transgressive.

And let’s assume the artist’s husband feels pretty fucking badass to be married to her.


Jamie Quatro is the author of the just-released novel Fire Sermon, as well as the story collection I Want to Show You More. She lives in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, where she’s at work on a new novel and story collection.


13 Creepy Books For Halloween Written by Women


Sure, there are a few impressive male horror writers out there (I hear this Stephen King guy is a real up and comer), but most of the stories that truly give me waking nightmares are penned by women. Perhaps it’s because women already know the horror of living under the patriarchy, or because many women (though certainly not all) have bodies that do things like bleed and give birth to small screaming demons, but women-centric horror seems to be particularly brutal. Here are a few deliriously creepy books written by women (but you might want to keep the lights on).

Women have been writing horror for a long time, too. Cool goth teen Mary Shelley kick-started the modern horror genre with Frankenstein, which just so happened to also start our modern genre of science fiction (because everything you love was invented by teen girls). Shelley also learned how to write her name by tracing the letters on her mother’s grave, because she is more goth than you. Since that first story of reanimated corpses and irresponsible scientists, horror has evolved from Gothic novels of adventure and woe to creepy modern stories that will crawl under your skin and keep you up at night. Here are just some of the must-read horror stories by and about women:

1. ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’ by Shirley Jackson

Merricat Blackwood lives in a big house with her beloved sister and her confused uncle. Everyone else in their family is dead. As we get to know Merricat, our narrator, and her strange world of make-believe, we start to get the sneaking suspicion that something is a bit… off with the Blackwood family. Or perhaps very off. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is quite simply a masterpiece of creepy tension, culminating in a plot twist that will make you want to hide under the covers.

2. ‘White is for Witching’ by Helen Oyeyemi

The haunted house is a pretty standard horror trope. But in Helen Oyeyemi’s hands, the haunted house becomes a beautiful, emotional punch to the gut. White is for Witching is the story of the Silver family, who are trying to recover from a tragic loss. The daughter, Miranda, seems to be manifesting her grief by hearing women in the walls and developing a newfound appetite for chalk, until the dark night that she vanishes completely.

3. ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca is about as classically creepy as you can get. At first glance, our heroine seems to be living in a romance novel: she’s a lowly orphan maid who’s been swept off her feet by dashing widower Maxim de Winter. Great, right? But once she arrives at Mr. de Winter’s enormous country estate, she begins to realise that the previous Mrs. de Winter might be threatening to destroy her marriage from beyond the grave.

4. ‘Thus Were Their Faces: Selected Short Stories’ by Silvina Ocampo

Possession in a house of sugar. A marble statue of a winged horse that speaks to a little girl. Arsonist children who lock up their own mothers. A little dog who can record dreams. I don’t know where Silvina Ocampo gets her bizarre, surrealist ideas, but her short stories are brilliant and creepy as hell.

5. ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley

You can’t talk about lady horror authors without talking about Mary. Frankenstein was not technically the first Gothic novel, but a lot of our horror tropes started with this one weird book. If you only know the Hollywood version, check out the original novel: it still holds up as the creepy, gut-wrenching story of one mad scientist who was also a terrible father to his corpse baby.

6. ‘And Then There Were None’ by Agatha Christie

Ten strangers, each with their own dark and complicated past, find themselves invited to the same island for an eccentric millionaire’s party. But surprise: there’s no party, and the guests keep dying, one by one, in all sorts of inventive ways that also just so happens to be written in a poem on the wall. And Then There Were None combines everything you love about the game Cluedo with everything you love about Saw, and it’s a must-read for all horror fans.

7. ‘The Fever’ by Megan Abbott

Deenie and Eli Nash are typical high school kids: Deenie the diligent student and Eli the hockey star and popular jock. But when Deenie’s best friend has some sort of seizure in the middle of class, the Nash family find themselves in the middle of a growing hysteria. There is some spreading contagion in this idyllic suburban town, and no one knows where it came from, or how to stop it.

8. ‘Bødy’ by Asa Nonami

The word “body” is already pretty horrifying. Asa Nonami’s Bødy takes it a step further, though, with thematically linked stories of straight up body horror. Each of the five stories focuses on someone’s perception of a body part, covering the buttocks, blood, face, hair and chin, and each story is more chilling than the next.

9. ‘Ghost Summer: Stories’ by Tananarive Due

Gracetown is a sleepy little town in rural Florida, so you know something creepy is about to go down. In Ghost SummerTananarive Due weaves together one novella and several short stories to tell us of both literal and figurative ghosts. Her stories look at the people affected by the strange and paranormal and, in at least one tale, even take on the monster’s perspective.

10. ‘How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend’ by Linda Addison

Don’t think poetry can be horrifying? Try reading Linda Addison. How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend includes both fiction and poetry, and both will give you the sneaking suspicion that someone is watching you from the crack in the closet door. Here you’ll find young witches, UFOs, land sharks, and a haunting look at Halloween paranoia.

11. ‘Strangers on a Train’ by Patricia Highsmith

Guy Haines and Charles Anthony Bruno are passengers on the same train. They both have people in their life who are giving them grief. They both kind of wish those people would go away. So they figure… why not help each other out with a little outsourced murder? Strangers on a Train is more in the thriller/mystery vein than typical horror, but Highsmith’s ability to get inside a murderer’s mind is about as creepy as it gets.

12. ‘The Shining Girls’ by Lauren Beukes

Time traveling serial killers. Time traveling serial killers. Harper Curtis is a man from another time, and Kirby Mazrachi is a girl who isn’t supposed to have a future. Harper is meant to kill all of the “Shining Girls” throughout history, but Kirby is determined to bring him to justice. Half horror thriller, half sci-fi mystery, The Shining Girls will keep you guessing as Kirby draws closer to the impossible truth.

13. ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’ by Joyce Carol Oates

For a short horror read that will utterly ruin your entire life, try Joyce Carol Oates’ Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? It’s loosely based on a real life serial killer (so that’s fun), but it’s also kind of about the devil. The entirety of Oates’ creepiest story revolves around a strange man called Arnold Friend trying to coax a young woman into his car. That’s it, that’s the whole plot. But it’s so stomach-churning, so chilling, so next-level creepy that Arnold Friend will stay with you for a long, long time.

Happy reading!



The 2017 Baileys Prize Winner Is Revealed…


We’re delighted to announce that this year’s Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction has been awarded to British author Naomi Alderman with her fourth novel The Power.

At an awards ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London – hosted by novelist and Prize Co-Founder, Kate Mosse – the 2017 Chair of Judges, Tessa Ross presented the author with the £30,000 prize and the ‘Bessie’, a limited edition bronze figurine. Both are anonymously endowed.

Tessa Ross, 2017 Chair of Judges, said: “The judges and I were thrilled to make this decision. We debated this wonderful shortlist for many hours but kept returning to Naomi Alderman’s brilliantly imagined dystopia – her big ideas and her fantastic imagination.”

Alderman’s win comes just over a decade after her debut novel Disobedience, won the 2006 Orange Award for New Writers. Set up in 2005,to mark the 10th anniversary of the Orange Prize*, the emphasis of the Award was on emerging talent and the evidence of future potential.

“Congratulations to Naomi Alderman – her winning novel The Power is a wonderful example of the exceptional writing the Prize champions, ” commented SylSaller, ChiefMarketingOfficer, Diageo“Baileys is enormously proud to partner with the Prize who have created an open platform for the sharpest, smartest, most compelling women’s writing in the English language.”

For a chance to win a copy of The Power, Naomi’s incredible Baileys Prize-winning novel, keep an eye on the @BaileysPrize Twitter and Instagram!

Plus read an extract of The Power here >


A Room of One’s Own | Helen Scheuerer


When Virginia Woolf wrote A Room of One’s Own she referred to not only the physical space a woman needs to write, but also the need for room in education and the literary world for female writers to overcome the patriarchal nature of society.

Though I dare to say we are in no shape to dismiss these matters just yet, I’m not about to embark upon dissecting the latter topic in this article. What I do wish to talk about, is the need any writer has (woman or man) for a physical work space to call their own.

Like many writers, I’ve lived and worked in some pretty cramped places; from an office that squeezed twenty writers around one trestle table (elbow-to-elbow) to a studio apartment shared with an equally hardworking partner.

I’ve certainly longed for the luxury of my own desk (let alone my own room). It’s because of these experiences over the past few years that I’ve come to realise the importance of having your own work space, whether it’s a coffee table in the corner of a tiny room or an actual office.

Writing is, for the most part, a solitary venture. We lock ourselves away in the world we are creating and don’t want to be disturbed.

Personally, I can’t stand the noise of the television blaring, or people clanging about downstairs unnecessarily, though over the years I’ve become better at tuning it out.

These intrusions usually serve as distractions from our craft, and there really is nothing worse, considering how many of us struggle to find time for it in the first place.

A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.

Try and find yourself a little nook in the house where you can set yourself up a desk (it doesn’t have to be imposing). This desk should be yours and yours alone.

You should be free to leave your books open, your papers loose and your pen lidless, without the fear of having someone come along and moving things around.

Having this space is so important to your creative well being. It allows you to create routine, to stay focused and to have discipline. When you are sitting at your desk, there is only one thing you should be doing: writing.

Woolf said we needed money and a room of our own. I’d say that we need to get the room first (or at least the desk), and the money will come later. Hopefully.


The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist Books | Waterstones


Presenting the Shortlist from the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017

The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction is the UK’s most prestigious annual book award for fiction written by a woman. Founded in 1996, the Prize has consistently delivered winners which have become a vital part of who Waterstones is as a bookseller, from titles of the power of Zadie Smith’s On Beauty in 2006 to last year’s victory of Lisa McInerney for The Glorious Heresies.

It’s a pleasure to present the shortlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017. Once again, the Baileys judging panel have selected an exquisite list of treasures.

You can find out more about each of these books, read their full synopsis and even purchase it if you like, by following this link:

Revealing the Baileys Prize 2017 Shortlist



We’re absolutely thrilled to reveal the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist. This year’s six shortlisted books include one previous winner of the Prize and one debut novelist.

“It has been a great privilege to Chair the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction in a year which has proved exceptional for writing of both quality and originality,” said Tessa Ross, 2017 Chair of Judges. “It was therefore quite a challenge to whittle this fantastic longlist of 16 books down to only six… These were the six novels that stayed with all of us well beyond the final page.”

The shortlisted books are as follows:

Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀̀
The Power  Naomi Alderman
The Dark Circle by Linda Grant
The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan
First Love by Gwendoline Riley
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

This year’s judges now have the unenviable task of choosing the winner from these six brilliant books, which will be revealed at an awards ceremony hosted in the Clore Ballroom at the Royal Festival Hall on 7 June 2017.

Keep tabs on all things Baileys by visiting the original article here:

Book Review: The Lonely Hearts Hotel | Heather O’Neill


A detailed review by Naomi Frisby of The Lonely Hearts Hotel written by Heather O’Neill, which has been long-listed for the Baileys Prize – warning this review does contain spoilers, and by the sounds of the reactions of the Baileys Prize shadow panel, it’s a Marmite book – you will either love it or hate it.

Read more here and decide what you think: