James Birchall

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Course studied: MA Creative Writing
Graduating year: 2020


James Birchall was born in Cheshire, and grew up by the coast in Devon. He has completed three novels, and self-published a collection of dark, modern fairy tales named Wife of Thorns. His style is consistently strange, unsettling and—he hopes—humorous. He studied Creative Writing at Bath Spa University before moving to Bristol, where he now lives with his partner. He would like to mention his cats here, but this volume’s coordinator has advised otherwise.


The Mother Limbs is a blackly comic, gothic story about grief and dangerous obsession, that will appeal to readers of Jess Kidd and Angela Carter. Ash and her parents have moved to Llandelan, a village in the lush, rainy depths of Snowdonia, to run the local shop and help restore the disused cemetery. If things weren’t already ‘Gothic’ enough, Ash’s mum dies soon after the move, and her dad starts to lose his mind with grief. Escaping the bleakness of her life, Ash creates an imaginary friend—a cool, older girl named Angharad— who becomes increasingly real as the days go by. Meanwhile her dad’s growing obsession with his dead wife turns into an attempt to bring her back to life, harnessing the same dark energies of the valley that have given substance to Angharad—with tragic consequences. 

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