Sean Gregory, 39, was awarded the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award for his short story ‘Louish and Benim’, which he describes as a story about “loss of voice and about the lengths people will go to survive. loss of voice and about the lengths people will go to survive.”

Though It takes place over decades, during a time of totalitarianism and civil unrest, it is really the story of two people.”

Sean spoke with Salford Now about the process of writing the story, the award itself and also gave some advice for aspiring writers.

“The idea came from an exhibition I saw where children were asked to repeat words that Franco’s forces had used to identify insurgent Catalonia fighters in the Spanish Civil War,” he said when asked about the inspiration behind the story.

 “I had the idea several years ago and first wrote it as a play, but it didn’t work. After a few years, I returned to it as a short story. I’ve actually just checked my laptop to find the first reference to Benim and Louish and it is from 2011! It took me about five months to write”

 The Aesethica Creative writing award is now in its tenth year and is awarded to those who showcase excellence in short fiction or poetry. Authors self-nominate themselves for the award and are then put on a shortlist with other authors from across the globe.

“I submitted my short story in September and found out I had been shortlisted earlier this month,” said Sean. “It was an honour just to be published in their annual so to win the overall award is incredible. It’s an international award, which means a great deal.”

Award winning author Sean Gregory (photo credit: Sean Gregory)

Sean also noted the impact that studying English and Creative writing at the University of Salford has had on his work. “Everything I know about writing I learned at Salford. I joined the creative writing degree when I was in my late twenties, having never really told anyone that I wanted to be a writer… being at Salford allowed me to find who I was as a writer, which is so important and not something all universities focus on in their creative writing studies.”

When asked if he had any advice for aspiring writers, Sean had plenty to say.

 “Always be writing. If I’m not physically writing, I’m thinking about writing. And, as important, read as much as you can, read across a broad spectrum. I know I felt a shift in the quality of my short story writing when I started reading more contemporary writers, such as Jessie Greengrass and Cynan Jones.”

Sean is set to release his first novel in 2021 under Bluemoose Books. “The novel is based on the life of Anthony Burgess, who wrote A Clockwork Orange; its working title is ‘Three Graves for you, Mr. Burgess’. I’ve got a few short stories in various states that the award has given me the impetus to finish, and there’s novel number two to think about.”

To keep up to date with Sean and his future projects, you can follow him here on Twitter. To purchase the Annual 2020 Creative Writing anthology which features ‘Louish and Benim’ here.

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