Emmeline Pankhurst being arrestedFebruary 6th is the 125th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act  ─ a piece of UK electoral reform that gave the vote to property-owning women over the age of 30 but it wasn’t until 1928 that all women in the UK, aged 21 and over, enjoyed the same voting rights as men. Less than a hundred years ago.

In the US, in theory, women were given the vote in 1920 though, in practice, black women had to wait until 1965 to exercise that right because of discriminatory legislation in certain states. New Zealand wins the prize for being the first self-governing nation to grant women the right to vote ─ in 1923. Most recent is France who waited until 1944 to allow full female suffrage.

The right to vote, and not just for women, was won after years of struggle. The suffragists believed in peaceful protest while the motto of the suffragettes was ‘Deeds not Words’. Their actions were dramatic and sometimes violent: Emily Davison threw herself under the King’s horse at Epsom Derby and her name lives on today as does that of the Pankhursts  Emmeline (seen here being arrested) and her daughter Christabel advocated militant tactics with which the other daughters Sylvia and Adela disagreed, causing huge family rifts.

Political struggle and the backdrop of a civil war with families torn apart have been strong themes in our anthologies. These stories have transported us to different countries and times, including Cyprus, in the era before partition: Michelle Christophorou’s ‘The Making of Koupepia’ (2022); Greece, during the reign of the Colonels: ‘Silver Foil’ by Eleni Polychronakos (2019); Sri Lanka in the mid-80s: ‘Rice on a Banana Leaf’ by Samantha Munasing (2020) and many have linked to The Troubles (the conflict in Northern Ireland), such ‘White Flags’ by Rupert Dastur (2018).

So, perhaps a story with conflict, protest, activism and division as a central theme for this year’s award? We do, of course, accept any genre, up to 2200 words until April 24th.

Jane Riekemann

Use Your Fifth Idea

It’s well known that in short story competitions and in writing submissions generally, there are many common themes. The three ‘D’s for example. Death, Divorce and Dementia. Or variations on these. Many great stories are, of course, written on these subjects and frequently find their way into our short lists. But the ones that do have a fresh and interesting angle. Continue reading

Setting Intentions

January is often full of good intentions. I like to write lists, some people use spreadsheets, others dream. There’s no wrong way to nurture your ambitions.

This month I’m deep in marathon training for Brighton on 2nd April. Madness, I know (I blame my daughter ). My brain is not impressed – I’m 59, got a sore knee, it hasn’t stopped raining for weeks, now it’s sub-zero and who in their right mind wants to get up before dawn or spend all Sunday running for hours? But one thing I’ve discovered (and plenty of writers can also testify to this, including Haruiki Murakami, author of What I Talk about when I Talk about Running) is that long distance running and writing are linked. This applies to all writing, not just the mammoth undertaking of a novel, because short stories require rewriting, editing, rereading, refining. We spend literally hours and hours on them. I have a training plan (supplied by my daughter, along with gold stars) and I’m doing it without question, partly because I love awarding myself that sticker at the end of a session. I am a sucker for the carrot! Why don’t I do the same, even figuratively speaking, when I write? Do you? I’m not sure writers in general are very good at recognising quite how much effort they put in. Continue reading

Buy our 2022 Anthology!

Our 2022 anthology has been a little delayed in reaching publication, but you can buy it now in paperback from Amazon worldwide and from our publisher’s book shop. On the Ad Hoc Fiction book shop page, linked here, there are further links to Amazon in different countries. If you are an international reader, it is best to buy from Amazon as the international mail service is currently disrupted in the UK. Continue reading

January: a two-headed beast of a month

January is a strange beast, loved and loathed. Loathed for its short days, often dark and drizzly with a chill that penetrates the bones, it seems to drag on for ever ─ when will payday ever come? But it also represents hope and fresh challenges. Named after Janus, the Roman god of doorways, of entrances and exits, whose two faces looked to the future and the past, it came to symbolise beginnings, as well as endings. A month to plan for the year ahead, time to take stock and move on? Or reflect on the past, embrace the unsettling atmosphere of the first month of the year and snuggle up with literature to complement the mood. Continue reading

Interview with 2023 Judge Farhana Shaikh

Farhana Shaikh is a writer and publisher born in Leicester. She is the founding editor of The Asian Writer, an online magazine championing Asian literature. In 2010 she established Dahlia Publishing to publish regional and diverse writing talent. She has facilitated creative writing workshops and judged competitions in the UK and India. In 2010, Farhana received an Arts bursary from the Royal Shakespeare Company. Farhana now regularly reviews productions for The Reviews Hub. She writes feature articles, poetry, short stories and scripts. Farhana lives in Leicester with her husband and their two children. She can be found on Twitter @farhanashaikh talking about books and publishing.


Hello Farhana. We’re delighted you’ve agreed to judge this year’s competition and thank you for answering the following questions. We’re sure everyone will be fascinated to read your responses. Continue reading

2022 Bath Short Story Award Anthology Launch

Friday, 9th December may have been frosty in Bath but there was a warm atmosphere in our virtual reading room where 16 of the anthology authors, friends and family members gathered to share and listen to some brilliant stories. This was our ninth launch and the third on Zoom. Although live events are great fun, Zoom has made it possible for writers and guests to be with us from different parts of the world and from different time zones: Kerry Jewell joined us from Australia at 5am local time, Anna Dempsey from Sacramento at 1pm and all the other writers, including Emer Hoare from Dublin, popped up on screen from various locations across the UK.

Our first anthology was produced in collaboration with Good Housekeeping magazine in 2013 as an e-book and it was thrilling to see our dream in creating the award realised. Now, a further nine books on, we feel so fortunate to have been able to share the work of more than 150 writers (several have made multiple appearances) over the years. Continue reading

BSSA Local Prize Presentation

Last Friday morning, Jude and Alison met Jenny Tunstall, our BSSA 2022 Local Prize winner, at Mr B’s Emporium of Books in Bath, so owner Nic Bottomley could present the book vouchers he generously donated for her win. We all posed in front of the book-filled bath in this fabulous bookshop and had a celebratory cup of coffee afterwards. A happy occasion. And thanks very much to Mr B’s for continuing to support our BSSA Award. Continue reading