Monthly Archives: August 2018

BSSA 2018 Award Round-Up

Thank you very much to everyone who entered the 2018 International Bath Short Story Award. This year we received 1100 entries from thirty-four countries. Our team of ten initial readers enjoyed reading your entries and it was, as always, tough selecting the final fifty stories from a strong field. Authors from Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, the USA and the UK are represented on the longlist and many different themes and subject matters are covered – including, this year, the effects of climate change and world politics, along with dystopian futures, relationships between family, friends and lovers, dysfunctional and otherwise. Such themes were widespread throughout all the entries and it is interesting to have different cultural takes on this mix.
We also thank Euan Thorneycroft, Senior Literary Agent from AM Heath, for judging the Bath Short Story Award shortlist for the second year in a row. He chose the three winning and two commended stories and we greatly appreciate the work involved as well as his helpful and constructive comments on the short list and on the winning stories, all of which you can see on this site. The BSSA team comment on and give a prize to an unpublished writer, which is the Acorn Award, and once again we are grateful for support from Mr B’s Emporium of Books, Bath who sponsor and donate the local prize. The sixth Bath Short Story Award Anthology containing these twenty shortlisted stories will be published and available for sale on this website and elsewhere in the Autumn. We’re looking forward to seeing this collection of wonderful stories in print.
Short stories are growing in popularity among writers and readers and our aim is to encourage people to write in this form. The next Award will open in early November and close in late April and hope you will enter.

Anna, Jane and Jude
BSSA Team, August 2018


Shortlisted authors, BSSA 2018

Our shortlisted writers, who will be published in the BSSA anthology 2018, along with the winning and commended writers, are listed below in alphabetical order. Congratulations to all. We’re excited that all these wonderful stories are going to be in print in the autumn. Shortlist judge, Euan Thorneycroft made the following comments about the shortlist:

“You never know what you are going to get when judging a short story competition – but you know that it’s more than likely going to be diverse. The shortlist didn’t disappoint. I was taken from the UK to Australia with detours to the Middle East, Japan and North America. And I was plunged into the lives of different characters dealing with a variety of emotions — grief, disappointment, anger and guilt to name a few. The writing was of a high standard throughout and every one of these stories had things to commend them”.

Jenny Cozens who wrote  ‘Educating Susan is a clinical psychologist and has written a number of non-fiction books before turning to fiction, in part for the joy of making things happen in the way she wants. So far this after-work activity has produced two novels and a harvest of short stories, most of which remain unpublished. She now lives in Northumberland, having slowly worked her way northwards from Sydney with each new job or house. Hadrian’s wall seems a good place to stop.

Rory Duffy who wrote ‘The Museum of Dead Crows’ has had work published in Southword, Crannog, The Stony Thursday Book, A New Ulster, Dodging The Rain and Penduline Press. In 2016 Rory was second runner up in the PJ O’Connor Award and was shortlisted for the Frances MacManus Award. In 2017 Rory was nominated for a ZeBBie Award by the Irish Writers Guild. He was highly commended in the Sean O’Faoláin Prize, the Hannah Greally Award and Shortlisted in the Roscommon New Writing Award.
In 2018 he partook in XBorders run by the IWC. He was commended in the Gregory O’Donoghue Prize and shortlisted in the Strokestown Poetry 20:20 Award.

Rachael Dunlop who wrote ‘The River is Always Right’ is a native of Belfast, Northern Ireland and has spent most of her adult life in London. Winning her school short story competition convinced her she would be a writer, but it took her many decades to realise this would entail actually writing something. Once she started, she discovered a passion for short form fiction and her work can be found in several print publications and widely online. Her first (as yet unpublished) novel was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award in 2017. Her most significant word count to date can be found on Twitter @RachaelDunlop

Aingeala Flannery who wrote ‘The Court Order’ is an award winning journalist and arts manager, who is completing an MFA in creative writing at University College Dublin. Her work has been shortlisted for The Sunday Business Post/Penguin Ireland Short Story Competition, the Doolin Writers’ Competition, as well as being longlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize. She was a finalist in the Irish Writer’s Centre Novel Fair 2018. Aingeala’s short story ‘St Otteran’s’ was also longlisted for the Bath Short Award 2018. She lives in Dublin with her son.

Sarah Mackey who wrote ‘The Maze Game’ grew up in the West Midlands and lives in London. She writes short fiction as an antidote to her many years of writing for business. In 2017 Sarah won third prize in the Bath Short Story Award and first prize in the Ilkley Literary Festival Short Story Competition. Her work was also featured in the City Lit Between the Lines anthology and is currently shortlisted for Writers’ Forum magazine.

Keith McKibbin, who wrote ‘Kassidee’ was born in Belfast and had a number of short stories published in magazines and periodicals before moving to Scotland in 1998. He graduated from Edinburgh University with an MA in English Literature in 2002. He is married with four daughters and teaches English and Drama at a secondary school in Glasgow. His first novel, the semi-autobiographical The Twelfth Man was published by Amazon in 2015. Keith loves to read and write short stories and is currently at work on his second novel, For They Sleep Not

Petra McNulty who wrote ‘Nanook’s  Igloo’ is a former award-winning Milliner from Liverpool who is currently working towards her Doctorate in Creative Writing at Lancaster University.  She has a Degree in Sculpture /Painting and is a trained architect.  In 2017 she was highly commended in the Costa Coffee Short Story Award and has been short and long-listed for The Fish and The Hourglass Literary magazine prizes.  She is working on a short story cycle loosely based on her grandmother who walked out on her young family in 1940 as Liverpool was being destroyed during the blitz.  Petra divides her time between Lancaster and Fontainebleau.

James Mitchell, who wrote ‘Pairing’ is a London advertising strategist by day, for a brand you are largely indifferent to; by nights his weird fiction has won the 2016 Fiction Desk Newcomer Prize, been Highly Commended for the 2015 Orwell Society Prize, shortlisted in The Masters Review, and appeared in Vice, The Mechanics’ Institute Review, Litro and others. He completed the Birkbeck Creative Writing MA in 2015. Tweet him your advert ideas @jamescmitchell, so he can spend more time on the weird stuff.


Kay Peddle who wrote ‘The Shopkeeper’s Wife’ is an editor, printmaker and writer based in London.



Dave Pescod who wrote ‘The Dresser’s Apprentice’ wrote jokes for the BBC while he was an art student. He was selected for the Royal Literary Fund Scheme and awarded an Arts Council Grant in the Norwich Writers’ Escalator programme. His stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, selected for the Bridport Anthology 2011 and won competitions. His first collection All Embracing was published by Route in 2012. the film of the title story was selected for international festivals, and highly commended in TCM Shorts. His plays have won international prizes and been performed in festivals. He is currently finishing a full-length play and a novel.

Tamara Pollock who wrote T’he Plates of Strangers’ completed her MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck in 2010. Her stories have been published in the Sunday Times Magazine and broadcast on Radio 4. Her story, Elsa, was longlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. She runs creative writing groups for Kensington Libraries and is a member of Cathy Galvin’s Word Factory team. She has just completed a collection of short stories.

Caroline Ward Vine who wrote ‘Unravelling’ has only recently begun to write in earnest, though it’s been her ambition as long as she can remember. She completed her MA in Creative Writing at Anglia Ruskin University this year, graduating with a Distinction, and is working on a novel. She was delighted to find two of her stories on this year’s Bath Short Story Award longlist, a feeling trumped only by the thrill of Unravelling making it into the anthology. She was also shortlisted previously for the Bridport Prize.

Barbara Weeks who wrote ‘Hikkomori’ is a writer, teacher and former journalist. She has an MA in Creative Writing and was a columnist on the now defunct ‘Today’ newspaper. More recent writing credits include being shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize 2107 and highly commended in the Bath Short Story Award 2015. She has also been runner–up in both the Jerwood Historical Short Story competition and Wells Festival of Literature short story competition and her work has featured on various short lists including Radio 4 Opening Lines. Barbara has two adult sons and lives in West Wales where she teaches literacy, ESOL and creative writing in community education.

BSSA 2018 Winners

We’re delighted to announce the winners and commended writers for Bath Short Story Award, 2018. Congratulations to all seven writers and many thanks to our shortlist judge, Euan Thorneycroft, Senior Literary Agent from A M Heath literary agency, for selecting the winning stories and for his comments. You can also read his general comments on the short list here. All the winning and the shortlisted stories will be published in our sixth BSSA anthology which will be available for sale on this website and elsewhere in the Autumn.

First Prize £1200,  ‘The Tank’ by David Shelley Jones.
Comments by Euan Thorneycroft:
A subtle, clever story that manages to be at once both tender and terrifying. It compels from the opening lines. In the aftermath of a fire, we are shown an old farming couple who have taken shelter in the one place that can both save but also kill them – a deep water tank (it’s a nightmarish image). Can they tread water until their disappearance has been noticed? Will their absence be noted by those they think will come? There’s a terrible sense of foreboding. But the story becomes more than a simple tale of survival. It’s about a relationship and a life lived together that is tenderly and movingly evoked. There are moments of sharp observation – a half-burned kangaroo, the melted seat of a child’s tricycle – and the whole thing is wrapped up in a structure that makes this story feel complete and whole.

David Shelley Jones is a medical practitioner living in Sydney. He is a late entrant to the world of writing as family life and medicine have taken up most of his time. He recently won a national creative writing competition for doctors. With this encouragement, he has commenced submitting work to competitions such as the BSSA. David loves the Australian bush and spends as much time as he can in a caravan in the southern highlands of New South Wales.

Second Prize £300,  ‘Off-Ground Summer’ by Henry Peplow
Comments by Euan Thorneycroft:
A perfectly constructed story that is engaging and unpredictable. When our narrator befriends a girl, who comes to live on the same street, he finds an outlet for his pent-up anger and sadness emanating from an earlier family tragedy. This leads to further tragedy. The story is very good on the awkward interactions between two young people – the naivety on display, the non-sequiturs in the middle of a conversation, the honesty in the sudden spilling of secrets. The ending is very moving as the boy realises the results of his actions but it’s nuanced in its depiction. The story resists the kind of binary ending often seen in less successful stories. On the face of it, a simple story. But one which works perfectly.

Henry Peplow has worked as a fruit picker, a photographer and a film maker. He also worked on the Millennium Dome. To make amends, he’s hidden himself away and is trying to learn how to write. Henry has been placed in short story competitions and has won the Royal Society of Literature VS Pritchett Short Story Prize. He’s working on two novels for children, but finds writing and reading short stories the best way to learn.

Third prize £100,  ‘Sea Defences’ by Hilary Taylor
Comments by Euan Thorneycroft: The most ambitious in terms of pure “Story” in that it felt this idea could work as the basis for a novel. Which makes it even more impressive that the author has crafted this into an excellent short, punchy stretch of writing. The appearance of a child’s shoe, several years after its owner went missing, turns suspicion onto our narrator, a boy/young man whom we suspect has a form of learning difficulty. His inability to put voice to what happened all those years ago ratchets up the tension for the reader. Some wonderfully wry and playful writing helps make this an engrossing story with a quietly haunting note.

Hilary Taylor is a teacher from Suffolk, whose short fiction has made it to various longlists and shortlists, including the Bridport Prize and the Bare Fiction Prize. Her stories have appeared in The People’s Friend and Writers’ News, and she is currently wrestling with the edits of one novel, while another lurks in the wings. You can find her on twitter @hilarytaylor00.

The Acorn Award for an Unpublished Writer of Fiction, £100,  ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ by Florence Knapp

Comments by the BSSA team: Irina sees her ex-lover in a cafe with a beautiful woman. He doesn’t notice irina, though at the end he’s reminded of her when he sees a fallen coffee cup with her name on it. The writing is exquisite with music creating a narrative arc for what had been an abusive relationship.The power of this story lies in its confidently nuanced pace which stays with the reader long after finishing it.

Florence Knapp is a writer and quilt-maker. She is the author of Flossie Teacakes’ Guide to English Paper Piecing, a non-fiction book that explores the history and psychology of working with our hands, as well as teaching a centuries-old technique of quilt-making. Her stitching also features in a book produced by the V&A Museum, Patchwork & Quilting and for over a decade she has written a blog, Flossie Teacakes, where she shares her adventures with a needle and thread. Florence lives just outside London with her husband and two teenage children. She is currently working on her first novel.

The Local Prize, £50 in tokens, sponsored by Mr B’s Emporium of books, Bath Witches Sail in Eggshells’ by Chloe Turner The is the second year in a row that Chloe has won the Local Prize.

Comments by the BSSA team: A brilliantly written account of the push and pull of attraction between women and the havoc it can cause in relationships, narrated in a lyrical voice that rings true. Its colourful dialogue and empathetic insights draw the reader into the hearts of the characters and the emotions they feel.

Chloe Turner’s stories have been published in various journals and anthologies, and in two single-story chapbooks. She was the Local Prize winner and Commended in the Bath Short Story Award 2017, and the winner of the short story category in the 2017 Fresher Prize. Her story ‘Waiting for the Runners’ appears in the SALT Publishing anthology, Best British Short Stories 2018. Chloe lives near Stroud, Gloucestershire, where she’s working on a novel. You can also find her at and on Twitter at @turnerpen2paper.

Commended, £30,  ‘The Other Couple’ by Sandra Marslund

Comments by Euan Thorneycroft: This is a well-contained and evocative story about a couple and their disappointment about, what we assume, is their inability to have children. This is never stated but the author draws our attention to it obliquely. And I say “their disappointment”, but we never quite know how the narrator’s partner feels about their situation, something that adds to the sense of quiet devastation of our narrator. It’s a story that builds gradually towards a climactic and emotional ending.

Sandra Marslund is a writer and Danish translator. Since gaining an MA in Creative Writing from Exeter University in 2016, she has tried to pursue her writing more seriously and in 2017 won the Acorn Award for unpublished writer in the Bath Short Story competition. She has also been longlisted for the Exeter Writer’s Prize and has had her short stories commended in the Winchester Writers’ Festival Writing Competition. She is currently working on her first novel as part of a PhD in Creative Writing at Exeter University, where she hopes to one day support her writing with some teaching. She lives by the sea in Devon with her two teenage daughters and a dog.

Commended, £30, ‘Down in the Mud on Limehouse Beach’ by Nick Petty

Comments by Euan Thorneycroft: A strong, unique voice pulls the reader through this curious story of a woman combing the muddy banks of Limehouse Beach. Much like his character who finds beauty hauling lost items from the mud, the writer creates something achingly moving in the dredging of memories. There is thoughtfulness and lightness of touch in the creation – through fragmented comments – of the woman’s relationship with an Old Friend. This is an intelligent story with a real and subtle emotional undercurrent.


Nick Petty grew up in Macclesfield, studied Chemical Engineering at Cambridge, and after a stint as a management consultant in London, moved to Utrecht, The Netherlands, where he now lives and writes. He has previously been listed for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and TSS Publishing Flash 400. He hopes one day to write a half decent novel and own a half decent dog.