Hello. Welcome to my website.
I’ve been a journalist for many years, mainly on a daily newspaper. I now try to write books, having won the Rhys Davies Prize for short fiction and, in November 2016, the Templar Shorts award.
One of the books, a collection of short stories called Funderland, was published by Parthian in 2011/12 to enthusiastic reviews in the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday, The Times, and others. Parthian brought out my first collection of poetry, Miners At The Quarry Pool, in November 2013.
A novel of mine, Slowly Burning, about a former Fleet Street hack washed up on a Welsh provincial weekly paper, was published in March, 2016, by Dr Gareth John and his wonderful GG Books. It’s a literary work with strong commercial possibilities (that’s what it says here; see News section to order).
In July, 2015, I signed a contract with go-ahead ‘indie’ publisher Cultured Llama, based in Kent, for the publication of my second story collection, Who Killed Emil Kreisler?, which was published in November 2016.
The story that won me the Rhys Davies Prize, Mrs Kuroda on Penyfan, is included in the Library of Wales’s two-volume anthology of 20th and 21st century Welsh short fiction. I was commissioned by the Wales Arts Review and the Rhys Davies Trust to write a story based on one of the older tales in the anthology. The result was Miss Mercedes Gleitze, after Bert Coombes’s Twenty Tons Of Coal, and it was published just before Christmas 2015.
I’m always scribbling something or other and am now working on a second novel, provisionally titled The Newhaven Foxes. I’ve also written a semi-fictional memoir of my time at an iron foundry, Forged In The Fire, and a first (unpublished) novel called Piersfield. I’m writing now and then for the online Wales Arts Review. Google ‘Nigel Jarrett Wales Arts Review’ and you’ll reach my author’s page, with some of my deathless prose listed. Once a writer, always a writer, even though writing is bloody hard work. There’s also an author page on Amazon, probably in need of updating.
Personal stuff? Well, I was born in the village of Pontnewydd in the old Welsh county of Gwent, when it and neighbouring village Cwmbran had a combined population of not more than 5,000. There’d been a coal mine (Cwmbran Colliery),and there was still an iron works (GKN), and a brake factory (Girling). There was also a stretch of the Monmouthshire-Brecon canal, full of sticklebacks, minnows, leeches and black snails that kept the water in your collector’s jam jar clean if not oxygenated (that was done by pondweed).. But the New Towns Act of 1945 put an end to the idyll, if idyll it was. The canal was culverted almost beyond recognition. House-building and the creation of a modern town centre with shops meant that by 1960 the population was around 50.000.
I went to Pontnewydd CV Junior School, thence to West Mon Grammar School, Pontypool, which I hated, mainly because most of the staff were batty.
I managed to scrape half-decent A levels in Botany and Zoology (failing Chemistry) and went to University College, Cardiff, then part of the federated University of Wales. It was a big mistake, though on re-sitting Chemistry as an intermediate level course, I was the only student in end-of-year exams able to identify two related compounds of oxalic acid in a complicated analysis test. The rest of my academic career is a blur. I failed my degree exams.
I then spent ages a newspaper journalist. If I had my time again, I would work harder (at English or art), and start writing (or painting) seriously at twenty. I’d also be more political and try to be better at holding a conversation and advancing an argument. What I wouldn’t do is marry anyone other than my historian wife, Ann.