Danny is shortlisted for Toadstone, the story of a lonely, awkward man who has become ‘obsolete in his own life’. A wonderfully subtle portrayal of family, ageing, sibling rivalry and childhood memory, this darkly fantastical, warm and funny story is set during ‘toading’ season when a man returns to his childhood home with a potential cancer diagnosis hanging over his head. It was inspired by lived experience and English folklore.
Danny has been shortlisted alongside Lucy Caldwell for All the People Were Mean and Bad, Rory Gleeson for The Body Audit, Georgina Harding for Night Train and Richard Smyth for Maykopsky District, Adyghe Oblast.
Chair of the 2021 BBC National Short Story Award judging panel is James Runcie. He is joined by Booker Prize shortlisted novelist Fiona Mozley; award winning writer, poet and winner of the Desmond Elliot Prize, Derek Owusu; multi-award-winning novelist and short story writer, Donal Ryan; and returning judge Di Speirs, Books Editor at BBC Audio.
You can listen to TV actor, Shaun Dooley, whose credits include It’s a Sin, Innocent and Coronation Street reading Toadstone and an interview with Danny here. All the shortlisted stories are contained in an anthology which is available to buy from the University Bookshop.
Danny says: “I was thrilled when I heard the news. Writing can be a lonely business. To have this story recognised in this fashion is like an electric jolt to the system, a reminder that it’s all worth the pain. After learning I was shortlisted I immediately read the story and found myself welling up, a concoction of self-justification, pride and, rather curiously, relief. To be shortlisted (there's only five of us) is pretty much a 'win' in itself. Previous shortlisted authors who didn't win include Zadie Smith, Jackie Kay, Hilary Mantel, William Trevor, Rose Tremain and Naomi Alderman. That says it all really.”
The winner will be announced in a special short story edition of BBC Radio 4’s Front Row from 7.15pm on 19 October.