I’ve been thinking a lot lately about transformation. Partly because metamorphosis is a stock trope of our most formative stories, and partly because change, whether it takes an overt form or not, is an intrinsic part of our lives. With regard to myth and fairy tale in particular, this transformative period is often short-lived and characters tend to emerge from this magical state (as magic is usually responsible despite its short shelf life) as better human beings. In the work of contemporary writers too, it is still a constant source of inspiration, though it takes many mutable forms. Without a doubt my favourite tale of metamorphosis in recent years is A.S. Byatt’s ‘A Stone Woman’ from her collection Little Black Book of Stories, which deals explicitly with notions of change, whilst considering anxieties surrounding permanence and stasis.
Not so long ago my essay on Byatt’s ‘A Stone Woman’ was longlisted for the Thresholds International Feature Writing Competition. Thresholds, the international short story forum, based at the University of Chichester, provides wonderful resources and features for writers and readers of short fiction. I’m especially delighted that my essay was shortlisted and can be read here, along with the judges’ feedback on the shortlisting process. If you want to know more about the features this year, on authors as diverse as Tennessee Williams and Kjell Askildsen, as well as the winning entry from Richard Newton, please click here.