Congratulations to Woking Writers Circle member Alan Dale, who has won second prize in an annual short story competition organised by the British Czech and Slovak Association (BCSA). The BCSA was launched by Alexander Dubcek in 1990 and aims to be “a major British, Czech and Slovak platform where awareness is raised and ongoing dialogue promoted about Britain, the Czech and Slovak Republics and their cultures. This includes the history, arts, literature, economies, science, and contemporary socio-political matters that affect British, Czech and Slovak relations.”

Alan’s story is titled ‘To the Vacillator: A Scythe’. He said: “It’s about a nuclear design engineer who’s too afraid to blow the whistle, having discovered a potentially lethal design flaw in the Hradec nuclear reactor [in the Czech Republic] … Meanwhile, his wife is dying a slow, agonising death, from an as yet undiagnosed illness.”

Alan has also recently written a blogpost for The Writers Bureau, in which he outlines his own writing methods and offers some tips for getting ideas. “I often start by simply looking around the lounge. My gaze once fell on a lampshade that bore a reproduction of an ancient map of the oceans. It gave me the plot idea for a piece of flash fiction about the quest for a new navigational passage. On another occasion, my glance rested on a miniature Persian rug brought back from our earlier travels. Suddenly, the patterns seemed subtly to alter. Could those patterns actually conceal the printed circuit for a timing device? A story called ‘The Devil’s New Rug’ resulted.

“My second method is commonplace and no less effective for that. Step away from the desk or keyboard, go for a walk and don’t even consciously try to plot or resolve anything. Just absorb impressions, dialogue, cloudscapes (probably best from the safety of indoors, that one), smells, music, atmosphere (chemical or psychological). Keep pen and paper to hand at night. Many ideas have come to me via dreams.”

You can read Alan’s full blogpost here. His recently published debut novel, Theta Double Dot,  is available here.