Front cover of Black lIVES

Recordings From ‘Black Lives’

Black Lives (the anthology produced from the Nottingham Writers Studio first ever George Floyd Short Story Competition) is a collection of stories where ethnic minorities take the major roles. Written by a diverse range of 27 authors from around the globe their tales cross all genres while tackling issues of race, colourism and identity. Here we have a selection of stories from the collection read out by some of the authors. The books cover was illustrated by fantastic local artist Kim Thompson. Please check out more of her wonderful work by visiting her Instagram.

If you want to dig deeper into these wonderful stories then Nottingham City Libraries also have 6 copies of the book in circulation. You can request a copy via our online catalogue.

Mabel

Mabel Aghadiuno

Lessons

Lessons was inspired by a young black mum telling me that her child had developed severe eczema in nursery school. He only seemed to have it during term-time and it first developed when he started school.  I imagined what unspoken stress and racism the child could be suffering in an environment where he belonged to an ethnic minority…

Listen To Lessons

 

About The Writer

Ever since I was a child, I’ve liked writing and telling stories. I’m fascinated by the way words can evoke an image, instil emotion, provoke change. They are powerful! My parents are Nigerian and I was born in Scotland. I grew up there at a time when there were few black people.

When I was seven, I remember scrolling through a magazine that was hidden away in a cupboard. The magazine contained pictures of children with swollen bellies, skeletal bodies and suffering faces. That’s when I swore when I was older, I would be a doctor to take away every single bit of suffering that existed in the world. (I really thought I could!) So, that it what I am – a doctor.

In recent years, the passion to write fiction has been re-ignited.  I have written various short stories and Lessons is the first to be published. The combination of being British with an African soul and caring for vulnerable people gives me a lot of material. There is so much more I want to write!

Ruth Akinradewo

Ruth Akinradewo

Brown Skin, White Walls

In 1950s Nigeria, Sade’s simple family life is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome district officer. An unwelcome reminder of the presence of British colonial forces, Sade tries everything she can to blot him out of her memory. But can she?

Listen To Brown Skin, White Walls

 

About The Writer

Ruth Akinradewo is British-Nigerian and lives in her home city of Manchester. From poetry to articles, Ruth takes on issues that some might prefer to leave alone: from sexism to racism to the right to life. Her voice can be found in articles in the black British newspaper The Voice, guest blog posts on social injustice, and of course, on her own blog, The Change Channel, which saw her invited to speak on BBC Radio.
Ruth’s story here, Brown Skin, White Walls, marks a rare return to her love of creative writing. This tale was shortlisted for the George Floyd Short Story Competition and published in the Black Lives anthology.
A picture of Laura Blake

Laura Blake

Dinner Conversation

As race riots rage throughout a community, a mother tries to shield her teenage daughter from the news and discourages her political – and personal – interests in the escalating issue.

Listen To Dinner Conversation

About The Writer

Laura Blake is an editor and writer based in Birmingham. Of English and Jamaican descent, much of her work explores cultural identity and immigration. She was recently shortlisted for the 4th Write Prize.

Follow Laura On Twitter

A picture of Ebuka

Ebuka Prince Okoroafor

Sixty Six, Thirty Three, Ninety Nine

Sixty Six, Thirty Three, Ninety Nine tells the story of a Nigerian Girl who does whatever it takes to survive in a foreign land like America. To earn a living, she is caught up in a web of criminal dealings while at the same time strives to maintain a decent profile to please her mother whom she’d managed to bring over to the land of limitless opportunities through an illegal means. One morning however, her mother asks something of her that would probably change the course of her existence forever. This story dissects some of the many travails which illegal migrants face in foreign lands, in their pursuit for a better life.

Listen To Sixty Six, Thirty Three, Ninety Nine

About The Writer

Ebuka Prince Okoroafor is Igbo, and a Medical Student from Nigeria. His writing explores the crevices and conjunctions in both our mundane, and the supernatural worlds. His work has been featured in The Dark, Litro, Road Runner Review, Daily Science Fiction, Agbòwó, AFREADA, The Best of Small Fictions, and elsewhere. He has won the Green Author Prize for Poetry 2017, the 2019 Sevhage Short Story Prize, and ranked third in the Inaugural George Floyd Short Story Competition. Find him on Twitter and Instagram

Ismail

Ismail Karolia

In All the Devilish Things, Ismail Karolia explores the devaluation of Black skin into just another commodity. A doctor in Malawi works for a nefarious UK company harvesting local people. The story deals with themes of capitalism and neocolonialism.

Listen To All the Devilish Things

 

About The Writer

Ismail Karolia is an up and coming writer who won the second prize in the Black Lives short story competition, run by NWS. Ismail was recently selected to work on a novel as part of the Grow Your Story scheme, run by Hachette UK. Ismail has further short story publications in Voices, edited by Sarah Dobbs and All This, published by Comma Press.

A portrait of Vishwas

Vishwas R. Gaitonde

The Worth Of A Miracle

Taken at face value, “The Worth of a Miracle” may seem like a tale with a supernatural element (the reappearance of the yogi). But there is more. The British Imperial Railway is a metaphor for colonialism, with the luxurious First Class suite coaches for the British down to the box car Fourth Class (“cattle class”) for the “natives”. This also reflects the class system, somewhat different in the colonies from that in Britain. People from working class Britain, generally looked down upon by British society, gained enormous power when posted in the colonies and wielded it by lording over the local population. The colonies had their own pecking order. The children of Britons who intermarried with the locals (in this story, the Anglo-Indians) were considered a cut below the pure-blooded Britons, but a cut above that country’s local population.

Listen To The Worth Of A Miracle

About The Writer

Vishwas R. Gaitonde spent his formative years in India, has lived in Great Britain, & now resides in the United States. His writings have been published in literary journals, newspapers, and magazines in those countries and elsewhere. Examples include The Iowa Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Santa Monica Review, The Millions, The Hindu (India), and The Prague Revue (Czech Republic).

His literary distinctions include the Tennessee Williams Scholarship to the Sewanee Writers Conference, a scholarship to the Tin House Writers Conference, and two writing residencies at The Anderson Center (all in the United States); a Summer Literary Seminar fellowship (Canada); and the Hawthornden Castle International Writers Fellowship (Scotland). One of his published short stories was cited as a Distinguished Story in Best American Short Stories of 2016. He was a finalist in 2019 for The Chautauqua Institution’s Janus Prize “for daring formal and aesthetic innovations that upset and reorder readers’ imaginations.”

Sharon Stevens

Sharon Stevens

Changing History

Ermine loved her grandchildren and was never happier than when they came to visit. She would go out of her way to make certain that they were well fed, safe, and comfortable.

Part of Ermine’s enjoyment was meeting Benjamin and Rub after school, not to mention providing a home-cooked meal for their arrival. She was not as strict with her grandchildren as she had been with their father and uncles. However, after they had eaten, her expectation would be that the children complete their homework before the fun could begin.

On this day, after having rice and peas and all the trimmings, Ruby and Nat mention their dissatisfaction about their impending studies at school. The children have an open discussion with Ermine about their feelings.

Not being one to put her grandchildren off from learning, Ermine cautiously shares her feelings too.  She also offers some suggestions that would increase their knowledge and keep them engaged at school.

What ensued after their discussion was not something that Ermine could have predicted.

In fact, the children decide to set their own goals to ensure that they can bring about the changes they want to see. Individually, they all make plans to create the opportunities needed to complete the changes they want by focusing their attention on the world of academia.

Nat, Ruby, and Benjamin base their successes on their conversation with their grandmother and dedicate their achievements to her.

This story is dedicated to Mark Charlesworth who passed away in 2020 and Lynette Baxter who passed away in 2021.

Listen To Changing History

 

About The Writer

Sharon Stevens has a MA in Creative Writing (with Publishing) from the University of Derby. Her writing career began as a product reviewer for QVC, which she did for many years.

At present, she has printed work in both fiction and non-fiction published home and abroad. Her first being a self-published children’s book Oscar the Curious Cat. Sharon’s work consists of historical writing contributions, children’s fiction, adult fiction, social features, book and theatre reviews. She has freelanced for two magazines local to herself – The Left Lion Magazine and Mojatu Magazine.

In 2020 her story Changing History was longlisted for Notts Writers’ Studio’s Black Lives inaugural writing competition. It is in the anthology of the same name.

Currently, she writes for Real Talk TV, has a podcast while also writing her blog www.sharonrmstevens.com

You can also find her on Twitter.

A Picture of Elizabeth

Elizabeth Eve King

How We Overcame

When George Floyd was killed, many of us felt a knee on the back of our neck. It was so horrible, and it has happened so many times, especially in the US.

How could anyone be so removed from another’s humanity and suffering?  What could make everyone view each other as human beings? Maybe the only way to really understand someone is to be inside their heads?
And to convert them, you would also have to forgive them. To forgive them, and to love them, and to understand them. And so I wrote this story. And because l hope, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr, that love will drive out hate, and that light will banish darkness we overcome. Can this ever happen? Can we, will we overcome? If we do,  it will be with words and ideas, thank you so much for letting me share mine and be a part of this great dialogue.

E. King

Listen To How We Overcame

About The Writer

E.E. King is an award-winning painter, performer, writer, and naturalist – She’ll do anything that won’t pay the bills, especially if it involves animals.

Ray Bradbury called her stories, “marvellously inventive, wildly funny and deeply thought-provoking. I cannot recommend them highly enough.”

She’s been published widely, including Clarkesworld. Her stories are on Tangent’s 2019 and 2020, year’s best stories. She has been nominated for five Pushcart awards.

She’s painted murals in Spain, Los Angeles and is currently painting a science mural in Ventura CA. She co-hosts the show Long Lost Friends on Metastellar and is always looking for interesting people to interview.

Check out paintings, writing, musings, and books below!

www.elizabetheveking.com

Shikhandin

Shikhandin

INSANE

When a brahmin goes against the rest of his caste and teaches children alternative history based on marginalised religious beliefs, myths and oral history mainstream and hardline Hindus wish to eradicate, can severe repercussions be far behind? This is the story of a brahmin school master, Nilesh Mishra, in a village in India’s vast hinterland, where mob rule prevails. In his endeavour to expose young minds to truth, he invites the ire of the entire village upon his head. His wife leaves him, taking her infant son with her. His brothers-in-law vandalise his home and throw him out. His neighbours leave piss diluted in water for him to drink. The social ostracisation and tortures drives him insane. But who is really insane? The perpetrators of India’s infamous caste system or those who revolt?

Listen To INSANE

My recording has a lot of background noise, thanks to my then four month old Shepsky, who banged her water bowl, toys to protest, since I was ‘ignoring’ her!

 

About The Writer

Bio: Shikhandin is the pen name of an Indian writer who writes for adults and children. Her published books, as Shikhandin, include “After Grief – Poems” (Red River, India), “Impetuous Women” (Penguin-Random House India), “Immoderate Men” (Speaking Tiger), and “Vibhuti Cat” (Duckbill-Penguin-Random House India). Prior to that a novel and a short story collection were published. Shikhandin’s sci-fi story – Communal – was published simultaneously in two anthologies, ‘A Dying Planet’ from Flametree Press and ‘Avatar’ from Future Fiction in January 2020. Her speculative fiction has been published in Sybil’s Garage, Enchanted Conversation, After Dinner Conversation and a few other magazines. Shikhandin’s honours include, runner up George Floyd Short Story Contest 2020 (UK), Pushcart nominee by Aeolian Harp (USA) 2019, Pushcart nominee by Cha: An Asian Literary Journal (Hong Kong) 2011, Winner 2017 Children First Contest curated by Duckbill in association with Parag an initiative of Tata Trust, First prize Brilliant Flash Fiction Contest 2019 (USA), Runner up Erbacce Poetry Prize (UK), Winner 35th Moon Prize (Writing in a Woman’s Voice: USA), First Runner up The DNA-OoP Short Story Contest 2016 (India), Second Prize India Currents Katha Short Story Contest 2016 (USA), First prize Anam Cara Short Fiction Competition 2012 (Ireland), Long list Bridport Poetry Prize 2006 (UK), Finalist Aesthetica Poetry Contest 2010 (UK). Shikhandin’s poetry and prose have been widely published worldwide in journals and anthologies.

Find out more about Shikhandin you can visit her Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
Paul Joyce

Paul K Joyce

Behind The Eyes

I wrote ‘Behind The Eyes’ because of my strong feelings about ethnicity and inclusivity. I am a white male. I have Irish parents. I know alienation and I also know belonging. I do not know what it is to be a person of colour, nor am I female. But I can try to know — to understand. We move closer to appreciating each other by inhabiting each other’s worlds — by ‘walking in each other’s shoes’.
The world is a complex place where differing agendas are somehow accommodated in the goal of a shared society. Difference can be acknowledged, but it is what people say and what they do that should define our opinion of each other.

Listen To Behind The Eyes

 

About The Writer

Writing sort of crept up on me. I’ve spent most of my adult life as a composer, writing for bands, TV, film and theatre. However, about seven years’ ago I had the germ of an idea for a novel. Inspired by (among others) the work of Brian Aldiss, Margaret Atwood, John Steinbeck and Sarah Waters, I began writing. It wasn’t quite as straightforward as I’d imagined, and I’ve had to work hard at learning the necessary skills in order to present my ideas in an original (hopefully!) and cogent way. I’m still learning.
Steve Wade

Steve Wade

Prince Kintu

A year on from leaving his homeland with his mama for a far-off land, a young boy continues to encounter bullying and hostility from his classmates. With the strength, wisdom and love of his mama, Kintu perseveres to overcome these obstacles on his tenth birthday.

Listen To Prince Kintu

 

About The Writer

Steve Wade’s short story collection, ‘In Fields of Butterfly flames’, was published in October 2020 by Bridge House Publishing. His short stories have won, been placed and shortlisted in numerous writing competitions, along with being anthologised in over fifty print publications.

Find out more about Steve by visiting his website