When I put the call out for writers for The Broken Spiral, I was overwhelmed with incredible work from those I had long admired, as well as new work from authors I hadn't yet had the pleasure of reading. I was seeking stories and extracts with a sense of homecoming and return, and was open to the different ways that might show up. I wanted the anthology to be a beautiful collection of writing that would act as a restorative to survivors of trauma who have spoken out and survivors who remain in silence through the redemptive power of storytelling, and to raise much-needed funds for the centre. In the year since it was published, The Broken Spiral has been sold all over the country, and is now resident in university libraries in the US , including Harvard and Boston. It is available in Trinity College Dublin and Dublin City libraries and now, because of Roisín O'Donnell's wonderful 'How to Build a Space Rocket,' is associated with an Irish Book Awards winner. All incredible achievements for an anthology that I felt I pulled together with sheer will!
I chose Roisín's story to open the anthology and to represent it in the writing.ie Short Story of the Year Award as much for its compassionate heart as its beautiful writing, and admired how she navigated the layered dual perspective of an Irish child of immigrant parents with sensitivity and grace. By bringing the story's journey back to its human heart, the fierce, pounding desire in all of us to be loved, Roisín's story wisely reminds us of our commonality despite apparent differences, a quality that feels woefully lacking in many areas of society at this time. A collection in aid of a rape charity usually strikes fear into the heart of many potential readers, but opening it with a story which is ultimately about the urge to connect felt like the right way to ease readers in. Universality is a tricky concept, but 'How to Build a Space Rocket' felt close to achieveing that, both conceptually and emotionally. I'm absolutely delighted for Roisín, who represented the power of a pivotal, all-female shortlist by collecting the award while about to give birth to her second child! If there wasn't a more perfect metaphor for feminine might. Congratulations Roisín - and The Broken Spiral! The little anthology that could.
Buy The Broken Spiral and read the winning story here.
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RM Clarke is a writer and voice-over artist. She has written for various literary mags and anthologies and won awards. She has put her voice to most things she can think of.