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Debut collection of short stories celebrates the Downlands

For one writer, 40 years of living in West Sussex and experiencing the rich diversity of the Downlands has resulted in a debut collection of short stories which celebrate the unique relationship between people and place.

Gina Challen moved from London to West Sussex in 1979, and she would be the first to admit that the Downlands stole her heart. Now, the chalk landscape is the inspiration for a collection of short stories entitled Chalk Tracks, which talk of the lives of the haunted and fragile people who inhabit this beautiful environment.

Gina’s characters and their stories are compelling. Lillian helps people to die. Ruth encounters an unsettling stranger on the towpath. Katy obsesses over a painting. Robyn puts her trust in a fox. Mags is a forager who takes the things he wants.

Speaking of Chalk Tracks, fellow author Katy Darby commented: “Gina Challen’s haunting Undercurrents [one of the short stories included in the collection] mesmerised and amazed me in equal measure. How did the author cram such a richly-textured narrative into such a small space? How did she manage to say so much with so few words?”

Chalk Tracks is published by Valley Press and will be available from 1st July. There will be an official launch of the collection at the University of Chichester in August.

Gina completed a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester in 2014. Her stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and two were shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2014. Another was longlisted for the 2018 V S Pritchett Prize.

The MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester has a long track record for excellence, emphasised by the appointment of award-winning, best-selling and internationally-acclaimed author Kate Mosse to the role of Visiting Professor. Award-winning alumna Bethan Roberts published her fifth novel this year. Entitled ‘Graceland’, it looks at life in the Graceland mansion through the eyes of Gladys, Elvis’s mother.

Dr Hugh Dunkerley, Programme Coordinator for the successful MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, has published his second collection of poems entitled ‘Kin’, and award-winning author Professor Alison Macleod has joined the course as a Visiting Professor.

The MA in Creative Writing has been the inspiration for a number of successful writers. If you are inspired to become a writer, you can find out more about the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester.