As is tradition we asked our favourite writers, from Maggie O’Farrell to Carys Bray, to write an exclusive short story for Stylist. Here are the brilliant, best-selling writers behind Stylist’s exclusive Christmas-themed fiction
A former literary editor, Maggie O’Farrell released her debut After You’d Gone in 2000 and won the Betty Trask Award (a prize for debut novels by authors under 35). Since then the writer has written six novels and become one of the UK’s best storytellers. In 2010, O’Farrell won the Costa Novel Award for The Hand That First Held Mine and her latest, This Must Be The Place, has been shortlisted for the same award this year.
Read Maggie O’Farrell’s short story, On the First Day of Christmas.
Written as part of her PhD in creative writing, Carys Bray’s debut A Song For Issy Bradley was a runaway hit. Informed by her own upbringing as a British Mormon, it was serialised on Book at Bedtime, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and selected for the 2015 Richard and Judy Summer Book Club. Her second novel The Museum Of You, published in June, has drawn similar praise for its moving yet uplifting description of grief.
Read Carys Bray’s short story, The First Parting.
Since his award-wining debut Incendiary in 2005, Chris Cleave has been a regular on international bestseller lists. His second novel, The Other Hand, sat in the New York Times Top Ten for over a year (under the US title, Little Bee) while his latest, Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, was published to global acclaim. Cleave’s novels have also been adapted for screen and stage (2008’s Incendiary starred Michelle Williams and Ewan McGregor).
Read Chris Cleave’s short story, This is Germany Calling.
A Zimbabwean writer with a law degree from Cambridge, Petina Gappah is perfectly placed to paint a vivid portrait of her homeland. Her debut novel, 2015’s The Book Of Memory, was longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. According to The Observer, her latest collection of short stories, Rotten Row, “does for Harare now what Dickens did for Victorian London, with lethal comic relish and rage”.
Read Petina Gappah’s short story, Gloria and the Hyena: a Christmas Tale.
A former journalist based in Los Angeles, Chang’s first novel The Wangs Vs The World was billed by everyone from Barnes & Noble to BuzzFeed as the book to read this autumn. When Chinese-American businessman Charles Wang loses his cosmetics empire in the 2008 financial crisis, he takes a cross-country road-trip with his family to regroup. Fresh, full of energy and sharply funny, it’s a debut that promises big things for the future.
Read Jade Chang’s short story, Where Are You Going, My Beautiful Friend?
Janet Ellis MBE
The former Blue Peter presenter, actress and broadcaster added author to her CV in February with her debut novel, The Butcher’s Hook. Written after Ellis attended a writing course run by Curtis Brown, the dark, unsettling love story involving an 18th century teenage girl with a warped moral compass sparked a bidding war and six-figure deal, and was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize. Ellis is currently working on her second novel.
Read Janet Ellis’ short story, The Annual Visit.
Illustrations: Clym Evernden