Introducing our Hysteria 2012 Judges – Vanessa de Elera

I’m slowly introducing you all to our panel of Hysteria 2012 Short Story and Poetry Competition Judges. I’ve asked them all the same six questions and there are some surprising answers. Our seventh judge is …  Vanessa de Elera and here she tells you a little more about herself.

Tell me one thing no-one knows about you.

My secret indulgence in crime thrillers – I hide them from everyone, but they are really gripping!

What do you enjoy reading the most and why?

I love gruesome books, literary books, thrillers, and sci fi / fantasy.  I read all of the Game of Thrones series while laid up after surgery, and really recommend it.  The good guys all have their bad side, and the baddies are the ones you end up rooting for.  You really never know where you are, as the author keeps killing off main characters.  I managed 7 volumes, and can’t wait for him to write the last two.

If there was one book or piece of writing you wish you had written what would it be?

Vernon God Little, by DBC Pierre.  It’s quite horrible as a storyline, based on the student massacres at Columbine in the States in the late 90s – but his use of language was very fresh at the time it came out.

What prompted you to volunteer to be a judge in Hysteria 2012?

While I was recovering from my hysterectomy, I did an Open University short course on Creative Writing. It introduced me to other aspiring writers, which led to us setting up a writing collective that has now published three books, Cafe Three Zero.

Have you written a book or a poem? If so what is the title and where can we find it (if it’s available to buy)?

I’ve written contributions to a few books – not a whole book. I started out practising through blogging.

You can read my short stories in Cafe Three Zero, Tales from the Cafe, available on for kindle and ereaders for £1. You can find my essays about my experiences teaching in inner city London in Shaggy Blog Stories, compiled by Mike Atkinson, and available from for £8.

If there was a film of your life who would play you and why?

My life reads a little like that book, ‘Eat, Pray Love’, so I think I’d go for Julia Roberts!  Why not aim high?

I taught in inner city London schools for several years, then, when a relationship ended and I had to sell my flat, I decided to blow it all on travelling.  I travelled for 5 years, eventually settling in northern Peru, and marrying a local chap, with whom I set up a language school in Amazonas.  I came back to the UK when we divorced, and fairly rapidly got womb cancer.  It seemed a difficult time, but I now know that if I hadn’t returned, I would have died.

During surgery and treatment, the Hysterectomy Association site was crucial in helping me build up a support network, as I knew virtually no one in the town I was living in,though some very tough times.  I’m well on the road to recovery now, and trying to raise funds to set up a charity for womb cancer, that can support women the way your organisation does.  I now teach English and Spanish in the South West.

There is still time to enter our short story and poetry writing competition – if you would like to know more then visit the competition pages at: Hysteria 2012 Short Story and Writing Competition

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