Lucy Wood is a spectacular new voice in contemporary British fiction. Her debut short story collection Diving Belles, is a paean to the spellbinding and ancient folklores of her native Cornwall. Where straying husbands lured into the sea can be fetched back, for a fee; magpies whisper to lonely drivers in the dark of night; trees can make wishes come true - provided you know how; and houses keep a fretful watch on their inhabitants, straightening shower curtains and worrying about frayed carpets. Hopes, regrets and memories entangle with catfish, wreckers’ lamps, standing stones and baying hounds, and relationships wax and wane in the glow of a moonlit sea.
‘Folklore is a response to life with all its problems,’ Lucy Wood tells book blog Dog Ear Discs, ‘expressing people’s need to understand and interpret real events through narratives. There is tragedy embedded in it, but I realized that figures of witches, mermaids and giants could also lend themselves to moments of beauty and humour. Rather than retelling the stories, my aim was to use the original folklore as a jumping off point, allowing me to reinvent it, play with it, and in some ways make it new again.’
The collection has been longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and has seen high praise from authors such as Michel Faber, Philip Hensher and Jon McGregor, who dubs Diving Belles, ‘a startling, and startlingly good, debut'.