Article in the Harrogate Advertiser about the novel, Behind the Mask is Nothing. The author drew on the experience of being on the fringes of a cult-like group for the emotions expressed in the book, though not for the characters or incidents.
Judy Birkbeck has a BA (Hons) in German and French from Reading University, and an MA in Creative Writing from Exeter University, and works as a technical, legal and commercial translator from German, French, Russian and Spanish. Her pernickety nature, so necessary for this work, is shared by the main character in the novel. She has also worked as a typist, bartender, office dogsbody, washer-upper, assembly-line worker, mail sorter, cleaner, kitchen assistant, baker’s shop assistant, dinner lady and unsuccessful door-to-door salesperson.
She was born and bred in London, and lives in Yorkshire.
SHORT STORIES PUBLISHED: They shall inherit the earth, about the same cult as in the novel, told from the point of view of the followers, in Litro online. Stripped, about the Zimbabwean War of Liberation, in The Red Line. Burials, about an abusive schizophrenic man and his elderly mother who half-wishes for his untimely death, in The Lampeter Review. Sharing, read brilliantly by actor Carrie Cohen, about a moth infestation in Hackney, told from the point of view of the moths, in Liars’ League. Trap, about a dysfunctional relationship and the suffering inflicted on wildlife, set in idyllic Upper Weardale, in Unthology 9, available in print from Unthank Books (Review by Rupert Dastur in The Short Story). Hair, about a man who keeps all his pets’ fur and goes to strangers’ funerals, in East of the Web. Cursed from the Earth, a Cain and Abel story set in Zimbabwe, in Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2018, available in print. Monopoly, about an old man who won’t sell up to a supermarket, in The Manchester Review. A motionless stuffed bear, about a bear longing to get back to its owner, included in the Leicester Writes Short Story Prize Anthology 2018. Gomorrah, about a 15-year-old boy in the 1943 firebombing of Hamburg, in the Mechanics’ Institute Review, issue 15. Ginger, about a redhead from birth to adulthood, in Ellipsis Zine. Homeward Bound, a 100-word piece in The Drabble. Meat, about a newcomer’s unsettling experiences, in The Shadow Booth, vol. 3. Feet of Clay, about a rat seeking more voice than just a squeak, in The Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2019. Lame Shadow, in the University of Sunderland/Waterstones Short Story Award 2019 (3rd prize).
Also: Highly commended in The London Magazine short story competition 2015. Shortlisted in the Short Fiction short story competition 2018. Longlisted (in top 60 out of nearly 1000) in BBC National Short Story Award 2018. Shortlisted in The London Magazine short story competition 2018.