Monthly Archives: November 2015

2016 Award now closed

Thank you to everyone who entered BSSA 2016.  Initial judging is now underway. Subscribe to receive news of longlist announcements

Shortlist Judge: BBC Radio 4 producer Mair Bosworth


  • 1st £1000
  • 2nd £200
  • 3rd £100
  • Local prize: £50 voucher
  • The Acorn Award for unpublished writers of fiction : £50

With thanks to Mr B’s Emporium of Books, Bath for sponsoring the local prize.

A selection of twenty winning, shortlisted and longlisted stories will be published in the 2016 anthology  in digital and print format. (publication likely in October, 2016).

Follow us on Twitter @bathstoryaward and subscribe to our email list and posts to receive the latest news and competition updates.

2015 anthology

To read the winning, shortlisted and a selection of the longlisted stories from last year’s award,  buy the 2015 anthology officially launched 19th November 2015 in Bath, on this site  for £6 (inc p & p). (UK residents only). If you live overseas, the anthology is available digitally and in print from Amazon.


2015 – Thank you to all our supporters

Thank you to everyone who entered the 2015 Bath Short Story Award, followed us on social media, shared our news and bought our anthologies. We like to motivate you, but we  appreciate the energy you bring to the Award. It makes it all so much fun.

This year, over one thousand people entered the  2015 Award. There was a high standard of entries and it was hard to whittle down the long list to send a short list to our judge, literary agent, Carrie Kania.

Highlights  included:

  • Ringing up the winners – we all love doing this!
  • compiling the 2015 anthology and receiving it from the printers
  • the anthology launch, and having a two page spread on the evening in The Bath Chronicle
  • Our two events – the workshop with Paul McVeigh on Writing a Killer First Page and the Evening of Readings with Paul, and authors Rachel Heath and Sarah Hilary.

Our reading team is poised for the initial Big Read for 2016. Entries are coming in steadily from around the world. We hope you would like to enter. We close on 25th April – just over 16 weeks time. Not long really. Keep checking our countdown timer on this site and sign up to receive posts  and regular emails from us.

Have a great Writing New Year.

Jude, Jane and Anna

BSSA 2015 anthology launch

B's knees smaller

The BSSA 2015 anthology launch took place on 19th November at Mr B’s Emporium of Books, Bath. Mr B sponsors our local prize and his shop was recently voted one of the ten best bookshops in the world by The Guardian. We think it’s the bee’s knees too – a must go if you are visiting Bath. Reading spas, reading years, bibliotherapy…

photo 1 (2)

Nic, Mr B himself, with Jane.




Emily and Sara smaller



We were thrilled that ten of the twenty authors in the anthology were able to come along to read short extracts from their stories  to a packed house of partners, friends and short-story-loving guests. Two of the authors, Sara Collins and Emily Devane are pictured on the left.


Sara, Jude Anna etc

It was a fabulous evening. All the authors who attended read brilliantly from the beginning of their stories and left listeners longing to find out what happened next.  Here you can see Jude, Anna and others, spellbound by Sara Collins reading her story.



Jerry and Sue

Our first prize winner, Safia Moore, was unable to attend as she lives in the United Arab Emirates. After Anna’s introduction and thanks to all,  Jane’s friend Jerry pictured here on the right with Sue, who took a lot of the photographs, started off the readings with an extract from Safia’s story, ‘That Summer.’ Click on video clip to see Jerry reading some ofthat extract. The recording starts a few seconds into the reading.



Garry Alex and Douglas

Gary and Douglas from The Self Publishing Partnership who published our high quality book under their Brown Dog imprint, came along and here they are with Alexandra  Wilson, from Writing Events Bath, who in 2015 sponsored the Acorn Award for an unpublished writer, this year won by Lucy Corkhill with her story.’Last Rites’.

anthology copies smallerOur anthology cover was again designed by the very talented artist and writer Elinor Nash who unfortunately wasn’t able to come along. We sold all the books pictured here during the evening. People  love the colour of the anthology this year – many saying how festive it is – just right for Christmas presents.

food smaller



In between batches of readings, there was time for people to mingle, chat, buy books drink wine and eat  ‘nibbles’.


KM Elks

On this post, we’ve pictures  of all the authors reading, plus the first few lines of their stories to inspire you to buy the anthology –  available from this website, Mr B’s, The Big Green Bookshop, London and  via Amazon in digital as well as print format.

To the right, there’s a picture of K M Elkes our local prize winner reading from his story, ‘The Three Kings’.

“It was Friday night, our wages were paid – we were set for the dance down Kilburnie. There were three of us – me, Frances and Robbie – living cheap over McAdams the butchers where a yellow stink of fat pooled at the bottom of the stairs”.



Lucy Corkhill, winner of the Acorn Award for an unpublished writer of fiction reading from the beginning of her story ‘Last Rites’. Click here to see a  Youtube video clip of Lucy reading the extract. She also tells us how she entered the competition at 11.47 pm on the last day!

“Rose Cullen. Eighty-eight years of age. Two daughters themselves pensioners: Violet and May. Three grand-children; one great-grandchild. A marriage, mercifully short, to Charles…”



SaraCollins smaller


Sara Collins reading from her shortlisted story,  ‘Lilith’.

“We have nowhere else to go, so he puts me on all fours like a cat on the back seat You’re as jumpy as a cat and all,’ he tells me. ‘Stay still.’

The old Bentley’s back window is filthy like always. The doors are locked.The amber beads of the rosary swing side to side from the mirror.  ‘There’s a trick to surviving it,’ Lilith always says…”





Emma Seaman reading from her shortlisted story, ‘The Ends of the Earth’. Watch a video clip of Emma reading the extract.

“‘I’ve wanted to do this for years,’ my father tells me. ‘It’s top of my bucket list.’

I didn’t know he had a bucket list, or needed one, but I can hear he’s proud of himself for knowing the term.”



John Holland reading an extract from his story ‘Lips’. Click on the link to listen to a video clip of his reading

Plate of chips small

John tells us this is the original ceramic egg and and chips plate



“At the pottery class, he made a black, iron glazed stoneware urn which she admired. She made a blue glazed earthenware plate with yellow and white glazed fried eggs, orange glazed beans and brown glazed individually cut chips, which he didn’t comment on…”




Emily Devane reading from her story ‘Ruby Shoesmith, click, click,click’. Click here to listen and watch a video clip of this extract (starts a few seconds in to Emily’s reading).

1. Ample

‘Your first word is ample.’ Mrs Barker paces between the desks. ‘Ample’ she says again, stressing the ‘p’ sound so that her chest heaves forward unsettling the chain that carries her glasses.

Ample. I know this one. ‘Am-pull – is that it?’…”


Anne Corlett



Anne Corlett reading and extract from her story, ‘The Witching Hour’. Click here to watch a Youtube video clip (starts a couple of seconds into Anne’s reading).

“I discover we have a witch on the first night in the new house.

There’s a faint scratching coming from the children’s room and when I open the curtains, she’s there, floating expressionlessly in front of the window, long vague fingers probing at the glass…”



Anna Metcalfe reading an extract from her story, ‘Sand’. Listen and watch Anna reading it here.  We missed recording the first few seconds but it sounds great.

“They abandoned the truck at the edge of the city and divided themselves between the two jeeps. Seven men in the back of each, shoulders knocking, thighs pressed against thighs. The road soon lost its surface to potholes, boulders and the branches of fallen trees…”


Adam Kucharski cropped


Adam Kurcharksi reading from his story, ‘Mosquito Press’. Click to hear a video clip of some of his story. The clip starts a few seconds in to the reading.

“You know something’s gone too far when you’re sitting here flicking through a deck of cards, trying to decide which of the queens is the prettiest. The phone rings again. It’s probably Castle, drunk in one of the girlie bars without any pesos for a taxi.”





Fran Landsman reading an extract from her story, ‘Big and Brie’.

Click here to listen to a Youtube video clip  It begins a couple of seconds into the story.

“My name is Big. But I’m not – I’m small. They call me that because my surname is Spender – like ‘Big Spender’ – which is a song. But I’m not a big spender either. In fact, I’ve only got £9.17 to last me till next Thursday.”



Ten very different compelling stories and ten more to read in the anthology. All of those wonderful too. The authors who weren’t able to attend, apart from our winner Safia Moore, were second prize winner,  Dan Powell,  third prize winner, Angela Readman, commended, Eileen Merriman, commended, Barbara Weeks, shortlisted,Sophie Hampton and Alice Falconer, Fiona Mitchell, Chris Edwards-Pritchard, and Debbi Voisey.

Interview with 2015 1st prize winner, Safia Moore

Safia-Moore-PhotoNow that the 2016 Short Story Award is underway, we thought it would be good to hear from Safia Moore, our BSSA 2015 first prize winner. She’s had more successes since her win in our contest back in July and has some great advice for prospective entrants to this year’s competition. You can read Safia’s winning story ‘That Summer’ in our BSSA 2015 anthology which officially launches in Bath on 19th November. Available from Mr B’s Emporium of Books in Bath or via Amazon

Safia Moore is a writer, editor, and creative writing tutor from Northern Ireland. Her work has been published in various journals including The Incubator, Haverthorn Magazine, Severine, and The Honest Ulsterman.   In 2015 Safia won the Bath Short Story Award, came second in the Allingham Arts Flash Fiction competition and was twice shortlisted for Flash500.

Blog: Twitter: @SafiaMoore


  • On your blog, you posted a great account of the history of your winning story,’That Summer’. Can you give us a summary of it again here? I am sure  prospective entrants would be interested in how the story came to us.

The essence of my ‘history of a winning story’ blog was that no one should believe there is some kind of magic recipe or even genius involved in writing a great short story, one that could win, be placed, or shortlisted in a major competition like the Bath Short Story Award. Accepting this and realising that all stories, if they are intended for submission to journals or competitions, must be scrupulously edited, re-read, worked on again and again, is of paramount importance. Likewise, if you believe in the merit of your story, you shouldn’t give up. My winning story, ‘That Summer’, had been submitted to two other competitions and had not been successful, so when it came back to me on those two occasions, I re-edited it, worked particularly closely on my choice of vocabulary, and generally made it leaner and meaner. I felt the voice and the overall structure of the story were sound, so it was a case of honing in on the details, the images, and cutting whatever was superfluous, especially in the dialogue. But if you read the full blog, you’ll discover that a little bit of luck in the form of a slow-moving post office queue, also played a part in how ‘That Summer’ came into the hands of BSSA

‘Viennese Whirls and Pineapple Creams’ is based on a few scant details my mother gave me about my maternal grandmother, Maggie Wright, a woman who raised a tribe of children (not all her own), married several times and was widowed for the last time when my mother, her youngest child, was about twelve. I was pleased that the Allingham judge picked up on the social/historical vibes of the piece as they were important to me, but when I initially sat down to write it, I had no idea exactly how I was going to incorporate those elements. As usual, it sorted itself out in the edits and revisions, of which there were many. You can read it on my blog via the link in the title above.

  • Do you write short fiction with a finished length in mind? Or does it just emerge as flash or a longer story?

I definitely sort my ideas into ‘Flash’ or ‘Short Story’ at a very early stage and I can’t think of any that have crossed over during the writing. I think that’s obviously got to do with the scope and depth of the idea, flash fiction being more like a trailer to the short story’s full feature. I wouldn’t write a flash piece or a short story with a particular word count in mind however, although I have occasionally cut a longer piece down in order to satisfy the word limit of a competition or journal. Stretching to fit is something I’d never do to a story.

  • Which short story writers do you return to for inspiration?

I’m tempted to say, none as I think returning to the same writers for inspiration can be quite inhibiting. I’d say it’s much better to spread your net far and wide when it comes to reading material and to keep one eye on what and who is new. Likewise, I feel that if you need to consciously seek out inspiration as a writer, you’re in trouble. Having said that, if I had to name short story writers I would automatically return to for reading pleasure and enjoyment of the craft well-executed, my top three would be Lorrie Moore, Carol Shields, and James Joyce. I rarely read a novel or a short story more than once, because there’s always something waiting in the TBR pile, but Dubliners is a collection I have returned to time and time again as a reader and a teacher. Which brings me on to anthologies. What better way to be inspired than reading a wide range of styles, ideas and techniques such as those found in the BSSA 2015 Anthology?

  • What are your current writing ambitions?

Currently I’m working on two projects and my ambition is to have them both completed by Spring 2016 at the latest. The first is a collection of short stories thematically linked by their Northern Irish setting (as per ‘That Summer’). I’ve planned 3 new stories which will bring it up to around the 40,000 word mark. At the same time, I’m working on what was my first completed novel and re-forming it into a series of free-standing but integrated episodes along the lines of ‘Olive Kitteridge’ by Elizabeth Strout or ‘Starlings’ by Erinna Mettler. This novel is set in Abu Dhabi and Dubai so has a much more diverse flavour than the short story collection. There’s a second novel which is about one-third of the way in, but it’ll have to wait. Finding an agent who loves my work is another ambition, but that’s for after I’m satisfied I can make no further improvements to my short story collection and novel.

  • Can you give us your top tips for writing competition short stories?

My top tips: get the voice right, plan the structure, begin in the middle of the story, keep writing until you get to the end of the first draft, then start working. There is no such thing as too much editing – you must be prepared to constantly read your own work, re-read it, make changes every time, cut anything that adds nothing to the storyline or characterisation, tighten up dialogue and enhance your descriptions with details that sound fresh, not clichéd. And finally, if you’re thinking about entering Bath 2016, start now. All the above takes time.

Interview with Jude, November 2015.

Interview with BSSA 2015 2nd prize winner, Dan Powell

Dan-Powell_headshotDan 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


Dan wasn’t able to attend our  BSSA 2015 anthology launch on 19th November, in Bath and we are delighted to interview him here. In Jude’s interview with him below, he tells us more about his second prize-winning story Dancing to the Shipping Forecast, his influences, current projects and tips on writing short stories. You can read his story in our BSSA 2015 anthology available from this site, Mr B’s Bookshop in Bath, The BigGreen Bookshop in London and from Amazon (print and digital versions).


  • Your 2nd prize winning story for the Bath Short Story Award, 2015, Dancing to the Shipping Forecast was very powerful  and evocative.  Our short list judge, literary agent, Carrie Kania said “what I admired the most was the building tension and the aching timestamp of a relationship reminding us that every second counts” I agree wholeheartedly with this comment. Can you tell us what inspired you to write it?

The first draft of the story was written during December 2013 and January 2014, a winter of fierce storms and heavy rainfall. Lots of areas flooded and coastal surges destroyed large areas of the coast, damaging both property and the landscape. As the time my family and I were living in an old farmhouse in Lincolnshire and it rained for so long and so hard that water began permeating the brick work. Patches of damp began appearing in the walls, much like those I describe in the story, and it is these patches of damp that the story grew from. This initial setting of an old property, the plaster patched with dark wet stains where the rain seeping in through the drenched brickwork, merged with the images on the TV of coastal waters sweeping up and devouring coastline in seconds. From there I had the coastal location for the story and that was enough to start writing. The voice of my female narrator appeared in the first few lines I drafted and this was one of those rare occasions that the voice took over and led me through the story. Once I knew that this woman had lost someone she had only recently become involved with, the tone and shape of the story became apparent. It’s four part structure mirrored that of the shipping forecast and once I began tying that in by using a forecast for the area in which the story is set on a particularly bad day during that winter, the story came together quickly. It was a quick first draft and slow edit though, hence the twelve months or so spent refining it before I submitted it to the Bath Short Story Award.

  • You have recently been awarded the RSL Brookleaze Grant. Can you tell us more about it, and what it means to  have received it for your life as a writer?

The RSL Brookleaze grants are intended to provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their writing, whether it be funding a sabbatical from work or a research trip that would otherwise be impossible. My award will enable me to remain in part time work for the next few months, effectively buying me three days a week in which to write. I have been enjoying that privilege for the last few weeks, and I am loving being able to focus on my current works in progress in this way. I have also kept a small portion of the funds aside to help pay for a research trip to London in support of my novel. I plan to undertake this trip during Easter, visiting some of London’s Victorian cemeteries and, amongst other locations, the Hunterian Museum. Receiving this award from such a respected institution is fantastic validation of my writing and a great motivator as I make my way through the final third of my novel.

  • You also work as a writing tutor and were recently writer in residence for First Story writer. What do you enjoy about this work?  Have you any up and coming workshops that writers could attend?

I work with writers of all ages I am always in awe of the way both students and adults throw themselves into the writing tasks I set in my workshops. In every session there will be so many moments when a phrase or piece of description the share will have me wishing I wrote it. Writing is usually a solitary pursuit and being able to share the creative experience with like minded people is a genuine pleasure and one that energises me for the return to my own work. Working with First Story is a particular privilege as writers-in-residence get to work for a year with a group of young writers. It’s a pleasure to watch them grow in confidence in their work as the year progresses. At the end of the process an anthology of the students work is published and they attend a book launch. What a great opportunity for a young person, to be a published author while still at school. It’s the sort of thing I would have loved to have done when I was at school.

As for up and coming workshops, unfortunately I don’t have anything lined up for the next month or two as I am busy completing an application to study for a PhD in Creative Writing. Hopefully I will have a few later in the new year that people can come along to.

  • You are successful as a short story, flash fiction and essay writer.  I believe you are also working on a novel. Do you readily move between all forms in your day to day writing and can you tell us more about the novel?

I tend to stick to writing in a particular form rather than jumping between tasks, so I will focus on short stories for a few weeks at a time, rather than move back and forth. With something as long as a novel, I will take breaks from the text to dip back into writing a short story or essay. Though overlaps exist between the different types of writing, I find that each form demands a slightly different mindset and I need to immerse myself in order to produce something of value. Currently I am neck deep in my novel draft. It’s about an undertaker who wakes one day to find that his body has died but he is still conscious within it and somehow able to move. Its part literary existential novel, part body-horror novel. Researching this book has traumatised my web browser.

  • You received a runner up prize for your essay on Norwegian short story writer Kjell Askilden  for last year’s Threshold Essay Contest. Is he a writer whose work has influenced your own prose? Who are the other short story writers that you currently admire and would recommend reading?

Minimalists like Kjell Askildsen, Raymond Carver and Amy Hempel have definitely influenced my work, particularly my more straight-ahead literary fiction stories. Anton Chekhov is a big influence, particularly how he manages to merge the higher emotions and the base in a single story, even a single scene. That level of control is still something I aspire to pull off. My more surreal or weird stories, like ‘Storm in a Teacup’ or ‘Free Hardcore’, also owe something to writers like Adam Marek, George Saunders and Aimee Bender. As for who I would currently recommend, I am savouring the short stories of William Gay at the moment. His collection, I Hate To See That Evening Sun Go Down, is consistently, story by story, sentence by sentence, one of the most affecting and compelling collections I have ever read. Right now, I am busy being blown away by how good his work is. Soon, I need to start working out how to get that good at this writing thing.

  • How do you think entering short story competitions helps writers?

First and foremost they give you a deadline and force you to finish. If you want to enter you have to finish your story and you have to do it within a time frame. Making commended lists and longlists and shortlist can provide validation to what you are doing but getting there takes time for most writers. First of all you need to write and competitions provide motivation and a goal, not necessarily the goal of winning, but the goal of writing the best story you can and submitting it. If you do that, and keep writing better stories each time, success becomes a matter of time.

  • What  tips would you give writers who are planning to enter the Bath Short Story Award this year?

Read the very best examples of the short story you can get your hands on. Look closely at how good stories work. Then write the story only you can write. Write the story you want to read that no one else is writing. Make it a bold and unique vision which can’t help but stand out when the judges make their selections. Oh, and edit, edit, edit; polish it until it shines

Interview by Jude, December 2015