Danny Brunton is the winner of the 2018 Life Writing Prize. Spread the Word Life Writing Prize, in association with Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre, supports emerging writers and celebrates and develops life writing in the UK.
Danny’s story New Boy was selected from over 500 entries by 2018 judges Erica Wagner, Hannah Lowe and Kwaku Osei-Afrifa. It is based on events that took place in his late teens in the early 1970s and forms the prologue to his book. We caught up with Danny to find out a bit more about him, his writing, and his story.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing about ten years ago, when I was working in the film industry, doing visual effects. I attended screenwriting courses and wrote the first draft of a fictional feature-length script, based on my own life.
What sort of things do you write?
I write stories based on my own experience.
Is life writing your preferred genre or do you explore fiction and poetry too?
Life writing appeals to me more than fiction or poetry because I like the directness of it and I admire the courage of life writers who put themselves on the line.
Life writing often blurs fact and fiction. How did you manage to retain the truth of the story and craft it into a good piece of writing?
All stories, whether fact or fiction, have to have structure, with a beginning, middle and end. I like fiction based on personal experience, but I don’t think it’s important to attempt to create a photographic record of what happened. I don’t think the facts are as important as the feelings, although I try to describe people, places and events as honestly as I can, without judgement.
What did the process of entering the competition teach you about writing?
Getting feedback from my colleagues on my life writing course was invaluable. I set myself deadlines and kept rewriting until I reached them, then I stopped.
How do you balance writing with the day job?
I am semi-retired, but I have had many different jobs. Mainly I have worked with computers, although in a wide variety of contexts: software development, systems analysis, music production and visual effects for feature films. Now I run a Tango club one night a week, I sail at the weekends, I look after my grandson during the holidays and spend the rest of my time writing.
What do you think winning the prize offers you?
The prize will pay for next year’s fees on the Creative Writing Program at New Writers South in Brighton. I am really looking forward to the Arvon course, which is going to be my working summer holiday. More than anything, winning the competition has given me recognition and a massive boost of confidence to continue with my writing project.