Bristol Prize

Interview with 2018 judge, Lucy Cowie

January 23, 2018   Joe Melia

In the second of a series of interviews with this year’s judging panel, we’re delighted to welcome Lucy Cowie to the website.

Lucy started her publishing career at the literary agency LAW and Penguin Random House. Since relocating to the West Country she has been a freelance editor for more than a decade, working with a broad range of writers and publishers, as well as contributing to national publications and websites including Harper’s Bazaar, New Internationalist, Dazed & Confused.

How much has the publishing world changed since you first started?

Digital technology has driven significant changes within publishing since I started my career over a decade ago. However, e-books have diversified the market rather than forcing the printed book into extinction as some people feared. It’s exciting to see the emergence of many small presses who often use innovative business models to publish provocative, inspiring and creatively designed titles.

You edit both fiction and non-fiction; how important is the role of editor in publishing?

Writing is often an immersive, solitary process and I think it can be hard for authors to respond to their own work as readers might. A good editor will take a manuscript through a very thoughtful and constructive reading process, balancing their understanding of the author’s concerns with an awareness of how to fine-tune the writing to ensure that it’s as engaging as possible for readers.

What kind of relationship do you aim to forge with a writer when you’re editing their work?

I aim to create a collaborative and supportive relationship with writers. Clear communication is key to this and I always try to meet with writers or speak with them over the phone, so that I can establish a strong sense of how they work and what they’re trying to achieve.

What do you think are the crucial elements needed to make a successful short story?

Short stories vary so much and offer so much potential for experimentation that I’m reluctant to call out any particular elements as being ‘crucial’, but my favourite short stories have all had an intense emotional impact and lingered in my mind.

Who are your favourite short story writers?

Lucia Berlin, Jennifer Egan, Rohinton Mistry, Amy Bloom, Jhumpa Lahiri and Elizabeth Strout.

What are you most looking forward to when judging this year’s Bristol Short Story Prize? 

I’m most looking forward to discovering imaginative and distinctive new writing.


The 2018 Bristol Short Story Prize is open for entries until midnight (BST) May 1st 2018. Full details here.

Photo: Michael Lloyd

The 2017 Bristol Short Story Prize was won by Dima Alzayat  for her story, Ghusl. Following her win Dima has been signed by literary agent Juliet Pickering – read more here. Dima’s winning story together with the 19 other shortlisted stories are available in our brilliant new anthology, published by Tangent Books.



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