Since 1999, Anam Cara has awarded a week’s residency at Anam Cara to the Second Place winner of the Fish Publishing Short Story Contest. For more information about Fish Publishing, the contests they sponsor, and how to purchase the annual anthologies of winning stories, contact publisher
Clem Cairns at

Jonathan Carr “Takeover” 2012 

jc-author“The wild landscape of the Beara Peninsula is a wonderful gift in itself. Add to that the rarefied atmosphere of Sue’s outpost at Anam Cara, with its creature comforts, fine home cooking and stunning views, and it’s, it’s simply impossible.... not to feel creative. There’s a social life on offer too. During my stay it included the sharing of tall-ish tales round the kitchen table, step dancing in Castletownbere and the chance to meet contributors to the annual art show in Eyeries. A fantastic week; stimulating, productive, fun. Thank you, Sue.”

Jonathan won the Greene and Heaton prize on Bath Spa University’s MA Course for Creative Writing with his first novel, Broken Isles, set on Bermuda in the early 17th Century. As a resident of Greece for many years, he contributed regular travel articles and book reviews for the Athens News. His work has also been published in The Daily Telegraph and Time Out. He now lives in Italy, and is writing a second novel.

Hannah-Fleur Fitz-Gibbon “La Paix” 2011

"Anam Cara is a fantastic place to be if you're a writer.  Relaxing, inspiring and enchanting: I wrote solidly for six days, breaking only to eat, sleep, or read in one of the many nooks and crannies thoughtfully provided all over the house and gardens. If you're just starting out, stuck halfway through, or desperate to finish up a project, get yourself over to the Beara pensinsula and spend as long as you can at Sue's cottage. It is absolutely worth it."

Hannah-Fleur Fitz-GibbonHannah is a graduate of the Goldsmith Creative Writing MA and Manchester University.  She lives in Brixton in the U.K. and works full time for a sports charity, so writing is squeezed into weekends and evenings.  She can often be found curled up in her favourite local café, overloading on Moroccan mint tea.  She has written two novels and is working on her third (typically in that same café) and previously won a prize in the Bridport Short Story competition.  She is looking forward to taking up her residency at Anam Cara soon.


Eve Vamvas "The Birthday Book" 2010

eve_varmas“Placing in Fish boosted my confidence as a fiction writer.  But the prize of a week at Anam Cara was a daunting prospect, being something of a deadline junkie.  How would I cope on retreat, with nothing to do but dream up excuses not to write?  Surely I would pine for my micro managed timetable or possibly my children?  After two days ‘acclimatising’ (i.e. eating and sleeping), it seemed there was nothing else for it.  I ditched my watch and wrote whatever I liked, wherever I liked for how long I liked.  I also looked at the scenery a lot, sometimes from the vantage point of the hot tub.  The week I spent at Anam Cara continues to remind me why I want to write.  Shoot for second prize, but if you don’t win, go anyway.”  

A former journalist, Eve Vamvas is finally losing her preoccupation with fact to write fiction.  She has an MA in Creative Writing from Sussex University and writes short stories and scripts.  She lives in Brighton with her husband, three children and an addiction to beach volleyball.

Vanessa Gebbie "The Return of the Baker, Edwin tregear" 2009

vanessa_gebbie2 A full-time writer, editor and writing teacher, Vanessa is widely published. Her credits include top awards from literary competitions including Bridport and Fish Short Story Prizes among some forty other short story competition successes.
Many of her prize-winning stories have been gathered together in her debut collection, Words from a Glass Bubble (Salt Modern Fiction 2008). A second collection of micro-fiction, Ed’s Wife and Other Creatures, is forthcoming.
She is an experienced teacher of creative writing, working with literary festivals, with adult groups and with young people.·

Her work in the community has included tutoring groups of marginalised adults and has led to two anthologies: Refuge, Stories from Refugees and Asylum Seekers, and Roofless, Writing by the Homeless. (QueenSpark Publishing 2007)

She is contributing editor to Short Circuit, A Guide to the Art of the Short Story (Salt Publishing 2009) and contributor to the text book A Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction (Rose Metal Press 2009).· She is founder-editor of the specialist ezine, Tom’s Voice, and was also sub-editor of Cadenza Magazine. She is also a reader and a final judge for short fiction competitions.
Vanessa is Welsh. She is married with two sons and lives in East Sussex, UK.··

Justine Mann “In Between” 2008

justine_mann“Anam Cara should be prescribed for any writer who juggles work with his or her passion to write and prays for the days to be longer.
“The views of the peninsula, the camaraderie, the wonderfully supportive atmosphere works its magic.  When I arrived, time stood still, allowing not just pages but chapters to be written. The place helped me meet an important deadline and restored my faith in what I was writing.
“Sue describes herself as “a literary midwife.” How apt. She attends to all the practical things that life throws up. All that’s left for you to do is create, and there is an abundance of peace and space to help you do this.

When you flag, turn up to her delicious meals and feel nourished by the company of the other artists you’ll find there. For a shot of inspiration, you can walk along the beautiful coastline.
“What a privilege. But next time, I’m booking a second week...maybe even a third.”

Justine Mann’s stories have been anthologised in The Global Village (Tell Tales, Vol. 4), Tales of the Decongested Vol. 1 (Apis Books), Harlem River Blues (Fish Publishing) and the UEA Creative Writing Anthology 2008. In 2008, she was shortlisted for the 2008 Bridport Short Story Prize.
Justine has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and is currently writing a novel. She lives in Norwich and runs writing workshops for the Open University and the London School of Economics.

Vanessa Gebbie "Words from a Glass Bubble" 2007

vanessa_gebbie"I first came to Anam Cara in 2005, to attend a workshop. A ‘one-off’ visit to a part of the world I didn’t know. I needed a break, a change in emphasis, some nurturing as a creative being. A treat.   
"Since then, I have been often. And half joked, ‘If I ever get placed at Fish, I’d like to come second, so I can come here…’            

"There was a wonderful synchronicity in coming second in 2007 -- a synchronicity in winning with “Words from a Glass Bubble,” a story that had its inspiration here, on two separate visits. Go to the beautiful graveyard over the lane, and you will find my glass bubbles. Go for a walk through Castletownbere or below the magnificent Healey Pass, and you might find the rest of my inspiration.

"Anam Cara visits have become part of my journey as a writer. Not ‘a treat’, not ‘going away to write’, but fundamental. Each time I stay, it feels like I am getting closer to home."

Vanessa Gebbie lives in Brighton, England and began her full-time career as a writer just five years ago.  Her winning story, "Words from a Glass Bubble," is the title story of her first collection, which is being published by Salt Publishing (Cambridge, England) and was launched at the Foundling Museum in London on the 11th of March 2008. Her second collection of short fiction has been accepted and will be published in 2009. Also in 2007, Vanessa was awarded First in The Daily Telegraph Novel Competition, First in The Paddon Award (Exeter University) Competition, Second in the Bridport Prize Competition, and Second in the Flashquake Less is More Flash Fiction Competition.

Amy Sackville "Beach" 2006

amy_sackville“Having space and time to do nothing but write and stare at the sea for a week was exactly what I needed to start a career as a writer in earnest. That, and a proper breakfast every morning, cheerfully served! I can’t express my gratitude enough.”

Amy Sackville was educated at Leeds and Oxford and now lives in West London, where she is currently working on her first novel.






Jo Campbell  “In the Desert” 2005 

jo_cambellI had never been to a writers' retreat and was very nervous about Anam Cara. Would I feel at home?· Would I be able to work?· Would I live up to expectations, including my own?
I need not have worried. Anam Cara provided the perfect mixture of relaxation and stimulus, acceptance and challenge. Mornings were spent working -- despite the distraction of the stupendous view across the bay from my room -- and afternoons walking or visiting the haunting monuments in the area. Exquisite meals appeared as if by magic. And in the evenings, there was the opportunity to share work with Sue and my fellow writers, whose encouragement and constructive criticism were beyond price. As people say, what's not to like?

Jo Campbell from London, England, has won Second Prize for her short story, “In the Desert,” a woman’s story of recovery following her husband’s death. She will read from her story at the launch of this year’s anthology at the end of June and take up her one-week residency at Anam Cara in the fall of this year. Congratulations, Jo, on a tremendous story!

[Editor’s Note:  We have just learned that Jo Campbell has been shortlisted for the William Trevor Prize (in 2008).  Good luck, Jo!]

Philip MacCann, Belfast, Ireland “Shadow Lives” 2004

"Anam Cara is run by some of the nicest people you'll meet.”

Philip MacCann has been a critic for The Guardian and The Spectator. His fiction has won a number of prizes, including the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for travel writing about Finland , where he worked for the British Council. His short story collection, The Miracle Shed (Faber 1995), was published to great acclaim and was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. The Observer wrote: “beautiful and compulsive narratives. You won't want to stop for a breath.” The London Independent: “His originality dazzles.” Time Out: “his weirdly beautiful style inspires optimism, lifting the spirit as great art does. He's an immensely talented and original writer.” The Guardian: “Really blazes: this is what literature is about.” In 1999, he was selected by The Observer as one of 21 writers of various disciplines across the world for the new millennium.

Exploring atmosphere, evocation and voice, some stories are rhapsodies of self-annihilation, many are satires of love or examine the intransigence and absurdities of human nature. Some seem to aspire to evoke the architecture of a cathedral and a Gothic span from gutter to Heavens. The search by "shadow people" for tenderness and beauty in the most hostile situations evokes a characteristic comic pathos.

MacCann tries to create the illusion of three dimensions by evoking the gap between what is said and what is left unsaid; between what we discern about characters and what they know about themselves. Behind the facade, below the surface, beneath the persona, submerged, suppressed: this is where the significant action takes place.

Perhaps the most praised stories were his series of what he called his "naval studies": narrative shells where in empty lives "all of a sudden, nothing happens twice."

Geona Edwards, Spain “The Terrible Eyes of Big Hawkins” 2003

"At Anam Cara, you are physically, mentally and spiritually nourished. The "real world" you blame for obstructing your writing, or filling it with bitterness and triviality, is removed. Clouds clear to reveal the creator in you, and days are as long as you need them to be. Any writer´s dream, really."

Geona Edwards is an American writing and teaching in southern Spain, where he lives with his girlfriend and dog. His links/publications include:

"Longing" in The Shore Magazine:
"Juan´s Last Stand" in Flashquake:
"Whitebread Oppression" in Tattoo Highway (2nd place) ; and upcoming,
"The Oracle of Oxion", 1st place in´s 2004 story contest, to be published in Rogue Worlds (pdf): and "Frankie Frown" upcoming in print in Prairiedog 13

David Gardiner, Walthamstow , England “Letting Go” 2002

david_gardinerIt's easy to promise yourself that you're going to put time aside for writing, in the real world almost impossible to do it. There is always something a lot more urgent, a lot more immediate: your children need you, the dog is sick, it's your last chance to see that independent film, your partner wants to talk about the hard time she's having at work. When the mood is right everything else is invariably wrong. The answer to this dilemma is Anam Cara.

It's easy to promise yourself that you're going to put time aside for writing, in the real world almost impossible to do it. There is always something a lot more urgent, a lot more immediate: your children need you, the dog is sick, it's your last chance to see that independent film, your partner wants to talk about the hard time she's having at work. When the mood is right everything else is invariably wrong. The answer to this dilemma is Anam Cara.

"At Anam Cara you live a cossetted life in an ethos of creativity and support for your writing, in the company of fellow writers who understand what's going on when you stare at a blank sheet of paper for three hours, and the rugged Irish coastline in which the retreat is set cannot fail to inspire. As Socrates was the midwife to knowledge, so Sue is the midwife to artistic creativity. She just somehow knows what you need and when you would prefer to be left alone and where you've got with your particular project. I went on my free week with a vague idea that I would like to create a short-story collection using the half dozen or so pieces that I thought might be good enough. But they were very diverse and in volume simply not enough to make a respectable book. I found that being at Anam Cara released a great flood of creativity, and by the end of my stay, I had two more stories that I thought might be worthy of inclusion. More importantly, I had identified the common threads that ran through everything I had written and came up with a linking story, little more than an extended joke but I could see that it was the missing element that turned a random basket of stories into a collection.

"The book was published last year by Bluechrome/Boho in Bristol as The Rainbow Man and Other Stories. Reviews have been positive, sales moderate. It doesn't make me the next Frank O'Connor, and it isn't going to make me rich but the satisfaction that I have gained from its acceptance by people whose opinion I respect has given me one of the great ‘highs’ of my entire life.”

Formerly noted as a wandering ne'r-do-well anarchist hippy professional student, now a settled ne'r-do-well superannuated anarchist hippy care worker living in London, earning sufficient that he is no longer a drain on the public purse. 55 years old (April 2002) a Belfast Irishman living in England (we're a big tribe) for a long time, former teacher, higher degree in Philosophy, formerly worked in the s**t end of satellite TV. (We installed the larger motorised dishes for international reception, mostly). Likes film, science fiction (has tried to write some), contemporary folk music, interested in alternative lifestyles (e.g. the commune movement), presently living in large house with lady named Jean and adopted daughter named Cherelle (aged 20 -- now a student at Liverpool University ). Also likes science (e.g. popular science books), amateur radio and electronics, scuba diving, travel (especially Asia -- mad about Indian women but please don't tell anybody), good conversation, Chinese food (which he can cook himself when pushed), reptiles (not to eat but to befriend) and playing on the Internet (mankind's noblest creation).

Sylvia G. Pearson, Edinburgh, Scotland “Dregs” 2001

sylvia_pearsonA haven for writers and artists, an opportunity to work on projects demanding peace and quiet, with no domestic obligations apart from bringing bums off seats to go and eat creative meals cooked by Sue Booth-Forbes, Director. That’s Anam Cara!

Meeting other writers around the table and having great conversation, swapping ideas and tips – getting valuable input from Sue’s expertise as a writer and editor who is as bright and congenial in the mornings as she is in the evenings (a pretty unusual and refreshing experience. That’s Anam Cara!

Access to a well-stocked library – fiction and reference – participation in the Beara’s writers’ group who come from far and wide to meet fortnightly, an eclectic cross-section of strong literary minds in the tradition of Ireland ’s greats! A drive round some of the historic and beauty spots of this stunning part of the country, visits to pubs where Irish singing and dancing are an education and rich entertainment. That’s Anam Cara – soul friend indeed!”

Sylvia G. Pearson began, at 55, to write short stories. Travel in South Africa and life in Shetland inspired widely contrasting backgrounds for her work, which has been published in several anthologies and has won prizes. Her own collection has now been submitted for publication. Recently, the Scottish Arts Council gave her a very generous award* to fund research for a South African novel, a Shetland one, plus an early childhood memoir – all currently in the works. She lives in Edinburgh and is the proud mother of two sons, her keenest critics and supporters.

*From the award letter: “Our Specialist Advisors considered your submission to be of such exceptional literary merit that it was unanimously agreed to offer you an increased award. I should also add that this decision was made in the context of an exceptionally competitive funding round.”

Kevin Parry, Seaford, East Sussex, England “Drowned Boy” 2000

“A bit of advice for next year’s entrants: Shoot for Second Prize!”

Kevin Parry was born in Umtata, South Africa, and has lived in England since 1979. Educated at various universities in both countries. Formerly worked in retail but now writes full time. He has won a number of prizes in addition to Second Place in the Fish Publishing competition.

Geraldine Taylor, Bristol, England “Etienne’s Tattoo” 1999

Geraldine Taylor is a multi-award-winning writer of adult non-fiction and children's fiction. She is Educational Counsultant to Ladybird Books as well as a University Student Counselor.

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