Monthly Archives: October 2015

2016 Judge


We are thrilled to welcome Mair Bosworth  as our shortlist judge for 2016. Mair is a producer for BBC Radio 4, based in Bristol where she makes Book at Bedtime, short stories, poetry programmes and arts documentaries. She has broadcast work by Kazuo Ishiguro, William Boyd, Owen Sheers, Kate Clanchy and AL Kennedy. She also runs the Bristol branch of ‘In the Dark’, a collective of radio producers and enthusiasts, which brings people together for listening events celebrating the best of radio storytelling. She tweets under @heyheymaimai

  • It’s been said radio is the ideal medium for the short story? What are your thoughts on this?

I’m not sure that there needs to be an ‘ideal’ medium for the short story. I like that short stories can find us in different places; that they can come to us over the air, in an anthology, in a book or in a magazine. I think some stories work particularly well on the radio, but others work better for me on the page. And when judging the BSSA short list I won’t be reading with only a story’s suitability for radio in mind.

Having said that, I do think there is a great fit between radio and short form prose (and poetry too of course). With short stories on the radio we have the pleasure of being told a story, of being read to. This seems to me to be a very primal pleasure; a pleasure set down in childhood. I love that with radio I can get lost in a story while I’m doing the washing up or stuck in a traffic jam. There is something moving and immediate in the intimacy of one human speaking a story into the ear of another.

  • What outlets are there on radio, the BBC or otherwise, for the short story?

Across the BBC’s radio stations we broadcast almost 200 short stories each year, with two a week going out on Radio 4 alone. The vast majority of these stories are brand new commissions for radio or are from newly published collections. Championing new writing and bringing new voices to our audience is really important to us. Radio 4 runs the Opening Lines competition annually, specifically for writers new to radio, and the BBC National Short Story Award for more established writers.

The Book Trust website and the BBC Writers Room are great sources of information on competitions and opportunities for writers.

  • Does the BBC have a submissions policy? What’s the best way to get a story to the top of the radio submissions’ slush pile?

While individual competitions such as Opening Lines will have quite specific submission guidelines, I think it’s important to understand that – in terms of production – ‘the BBC’ is not one monolithic entity. There are currently four different BBC teams and four independent production companies making short readings productions for Radio 4. And within each of those teams are individual producers, with their individual interests and tastes and workloads. For any writers wanting to get their work on radio I would advise listening to as many Radio 4 stories as possible. Work out who is producing the stories you like and approach them.

The other advice I would give is to try to raise your profile. Sometimes BBC producers may put out an open call for submissions, but that is fairly rare. More typically, we will proactively approach writers we admire to invite them to write something for radio. So we need to be able to find you!

I am constantly looking around for writers who are producing exciting work but who have not yet had their first broadcast opportunity on Radio 4. I read short story anthologies, literary magazines and journals. I look at the winners (and runners up) of short story awards around the UK. And I rely heavily on the expert knowledge and opinions of the wonderful people in the short story world – the publishers, agents, critics, teachers and award-givers – who read far more stories than I would ever be able to and have been generous with their advice and recommendations.

I recently commissioned a story from Danielle McLaughlin for example – whose work was first brought to my attention by the amazing Tania Hershman. Thanks to Tania I read a (very) short story of Danielle’s, which appeared in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology and then I tracked down more of Danielle’s pieces in The New Yorker and The Stinging Fly. I loved Danielle’s work and could see that it would work well for radio, so when we had a slot available for a new commission I approached Danielle to ask if she would write for us. Similarly, I was delighted to record one of Kit de Waal’s short stories for radio, after the team behind the Bath Short Story Award told me about her beautiful work.

I am also interested in writers from other fields – poets, screenwriters, journalists, comedians and playwrights – who might bring a fresh take to the short story slots on Radio 4.

  • What do you look for in a story you’re considering broadcasting?

I have to be able to hear the story; to feel it can lift off the page. It also helps if I can ‘see’ the story. (Radio is a strangely visual medium and for me the stories that work best on radio often have a cinematic tendency). I love stories that create a strong sense of atmosphere. I like the economy of what is sometimes called ‘poetic prose’. But most of all I like to laugh and to be moved. I want a story to work on me – to both surprise and connect with me.

  • Could you give us any info on word length, subject matter, voice?

Most of the broadcast slots available for short stories on Radio 4 are around 14 minutes in length, which equates to 1,800-2,200 words depending on pace and delivery. I don’t put any restrictions on subject matter but very strong language or particularly bleak subject matter can cause us editorial challenges.

Stories with a lot of dialogue, lots of different characters or with frequent jumps in time and place can be confusing for the ear to follow. Our budget for short story productions is limited, which can make stories with more than one voice/narrator tricky for us to commission.

  • Which writers inspire you? Whose literary works would be your ‘desert island ‘ companions?

In short story I always go back to Chekhov, and to Raymond Carver. (Sorry to be so unoriginal but it’s true!) I also love Annie Proulx, Kate Clanchy, Lorrie Moore, and Lydia Davis of course.

The books from the last couple of years which have really stuck with me have been Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation, Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams and Steinbeck’s East of Eden, which I only read for the first time recently.

I read a lot of poetry and particularly love Jean Sprackland, Don Paterson, Michael Donaghy, Alice Oswald, Czeslaw Milosz, Kathleen Jamie. I like books that you can’t easily categorise in terms of genre – like Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby, or Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage. And for comfort reading I turn to John Wyndham, William Boyd, Sarah Waters and Henning Mankell.

  • And finally, any advice to someone entering the Bath short Story Award for the first time?

Read and re-read. Edit, edit, edit. Trust your gut. I’m really looking forward to reading your stories.

Good luck!

Read about our 2015 winners

1st Prize

Safia Moore


Carrie Kania’s comments:

There are so many things to admire about ‘That Summer’. It’s a snapshot of boyhood curiosity. The narrator’s voice perfectly captures the sense of a small town complete with its own secrets, prying neighbours, worries and tensions. With language true to the characters, yet mature enough for the readers, the author strikes a fine balance. “That summer, no-one wore seat belts” – one single line in the story shows how, in a few words, a whole season can be described. This story stayed with me.

About Safia

Safia Moore is a former English teacher from Northern Ireland who now works as a freelance writer, editor and creative writing tutor to small groups. She has published flash fiction, short stories, reviews and critical articles, with Ether Books, The Incubator, Haverthorn Magazine and The Honest Ulsterman. Safia won the 2014 Abu Dhabi National Short Story Competition with a piece called ‘Turning Point,’ but feels her finest fiction-writing achievement to date is this Bath Short Story Award short listing. She blogs at and tweets @SafiaMoore

2nd Prize 

Dan Powell


Carrie Kania’s comments:

Loss hits hard in this story set against a crashing sea. And in many ways, water becomes as much a character in ‘Dancing to the Shipping Forecast’ as the narrator. What I admired most about this story was the building tension and the aching, specific time stamp of a relationship – reminding us all that every second counts.

About Dan Powell

Dan Powell is a prize winning author of short fiction whose stories have appeared in the pages of Carve, New Short Stories, Unthology and The Best British Short Stories. His debut collection of short fiction Looking Out Broken Windows was shortlisted for the 2013 Scott Prize, long listed for the Edge Hill Prize and is published by Salt. He teaches part-time and is a First Story writer-in-residence. He procrastinates at and on Twitter as @danpowfiction

3rd Prize 

Angela Readman

Style: "Portrait B&W - high key"

Style: “Portrait B&W – high key”

Carrie Kania’s comments:

A translator’s way with words helps women find ‘love’ in ‘The Woman of Letters’. Editing hopes, she nevertheless – perhaps unrealistically – sets her ultimate matchmaking eye towards her son. Peppering the story with gorgeous metaphors (“lips are strawberries in the snow”), this was a story that transported me and left me with a dual sense of two kinds of dreams – the ones that can come true and the ones that will not.

About Angela Readman

Angela Readman’s stories have been published in Unthology, The Asham Award anthology and The Bristol Short Story Prize anthology. She is a winner of the National Flash Fiction Competition and The Costa Short Story Award in. Her debut collection, Don’t Try This at Home was published by And Other Stories in 2015. It recently won a Saboteur Award and The Rubery Book Award.

The Acorn Award for Unpublished Writers of Fiction

Lucy Corkhill 


BSSA judging team comments:

Last Rites’ impressed us for the strong and original voice of the protagonist and an unusual slant to a traditional theme.

About Lucy Corkhill

Lucy Corkhill worked for ten years as a journalist while writing coffee-fuelled fiction late at night. She’s currently a full-time mum to her adopted son, working on her first novel whenever time allows and running an illustration business. Inhabiting wild spaces makes her feel alive and inspires her creativity; she has lived on a 90 year old wooden boat, in a house in the woods, and in an off-grid cottage perched on the cliffs. She blogs about writing at and tweets about books @lucycorkhill

Local Prize and Commended by Carrie Kania

KM Elkes


Carrie Kania’s comments:

A wonderful snapshot of a night out with the boys – the three kings of their town. Pitch-perfect dialogue and a cast of characters you’d likely see up on the big screen.

About KM  Elkes

KM Elkes is an author, journalist and travel writer from Bristol UK. Since starting to write fiction seriously in 2011, he has won the 2013 Fish Publishing Flash Fiction Prize, been shortlisted twice for the Bridport Prize and was one of the winners of the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, 2014.  He also won the Prolitzer Prize for Prose in 2014 and wrote a winning entry for the Labello Press International Short Story Prize, 2015. His work has also appeared in various anthologies and won prizes at Words With Jam, Momaya Review, Lightship Publishing and Accenti in Canada. Website  Twitter @mysmalltales

Commended by Carrie Kania:

Eileen Merriman


Carrie Kania’s comments:

A young doctor’s exhausting rounds leads him to a brief encounter with a dying woman. The rush atmosphere of the ER is deftly balanced with the last breaths of life.

About Eileen Merriman

Eileen Merriman writes short stories, novels and flash fiction. She was second runner-up in the 2014 Sunday Star Times National Short Story Competition and has recently received the 2015 Winter Flash Frontiers writing award. Her work has previously been published in the Sunday Star Times, Takahe, Headland, Flash Frontiers and is forthcoming at Blue Fifth Review. In 2015 she was awarded a New Zealand Society of Authors’ mentorship for work on her novel ‘Pieces Of You’. Eileen works full-time as a consultant haematologist at North Shore Hospital in New Zealand.

Commended by Carrie Kania:

Barbara Weeks


Carrie Kania’s comments:

The first sentence of ‘The She-Wolves’ gives  readers all they think they  want to know – but the question that first sentence raises is why we read on. The language here allows  readers their own emotional relationship with the narrator. And we are left hoping that after the thaw things end well.

About Barbara Weeks

Barbara Weeks’ writing career began as a columnist for the now defunct ‘Today’ newspaper, telling of ‘life as a teenage mum on a council estate’. She later wrote copy for several other nationals before returning to education and completing an MA in Creative Writing (among other things). More recently, she has taught Literacy, ESOL and Creative Writing in community education.

With a passion for history, she was runner up in the Jerwood Historical Short Story Competition in 2012 and Wells Festival of Literature in 2013. She loves protagonists who are rebels, radicals or outsiders and is currently writing a novel about such women, set in the 17th Century.

2015 Bath Short Story Anthology

2015 anthology

cover design by Elinor Nash


The 2015 BSSA anthology was officially launched in Bath on November 19th, 2015  and is available in print and digital formats. If you live in the UK you can buy the print version via paypal on our anthology page for £8.50 per copy  (includes postage and packaging) or if you live elsewhere in the world, via Amazon for £7.99 print (plus p and p) and £4.79 digital.Twenty stories to read from the 2015 award – our winners, shortlisted and some of the longlisted writers. Copies are also available in Bath from Mr B’s Emporium of Books.

“A hot, tragic summer in 1980s Belfast. The loss of love echoed through the Shipping Forecast. A woman writes ‘love’ letters for illiterate girls in the Far East. The Kilburnie Kings hit the town. An old lady makes final plans for ‘moksha’. These winning stories and other selected ones in the 2015 collection, ‘deal with the way we live in all corners of the world; diversity in action and emotion.’ Carrie Kania, literary agent and 2015 Bath Short Story Award shortlist judge.”

We’d  love some reviews from you.

Want to read other winners and selected from previous awards? Digital 2013 anthologies  and 2014 anthologies  are still available.