This evening of live storytelling in which the audience shake rattles and ask questions had the added excitement of introducing the first Brighton Prize for short story writing.

Hosted by Jo Warburton, who readily asked the writers intelligent questions when they didn’t flow from the audience, the readings were varied and interesting.

Firstly, three Rattle Tales writers read from their work, followed by published writer Bethan Roberts. The ten shortlisted entrants, whose stories will appear in an anthology, were then named. The standard of the reciters’ work was consistently high, most being experienced writers.

Runners-up Allie Rogers with Not Coming In Again and Melanie Whipman with The Real Thing read their superb stories. Then winner Linda McVeigh recited her Ordinary Man In A Suit, a portrayal of an artist’s discovery that her “love at first sight” boyfriend was actually married with kids and not perfect as his “slightly rounded shoulders” and “too thin upper lip” are noticed for the first time.

Reading from your own work was described as “Like showing your bottom in public” but the winner and runners-up, who beat over 300 entries, all openly admitted to a semi-autobiographical element to their tales, which they discussed with confidence.

The candlelit room was mostly subdued but there was a warm, encouraging ambience in which each writer was justifiably appreciated.