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.
The readings took place in three sessions, interspersed with breakout groups so people could chat informally. The anthology contains a range of themes, genres and moods and this was reflected in the short extracts we heard as the authors bought their stories to life, through their distinctive voices and thoughtful readings.
Our authors taking part were: Kate O’Grady, Dead Dog; Emily Devane, The Ghosts that Dance Between Us; Emer Hoare, Stick People; Anna Dempsey, Nobody Believes a Woman named Joanne; David Abbott, Acts of Love on the 17.22 from Bristol Temple Meads; Jenny Tunstall, Starling Boy; Kate Coffey, Birds of Paradise; Michelle Christophorou, The Making of Koupepia; Jane Dugdale, All that Remains is Hope; Natalie O’Keeffe, Becoming a Ninja, 1997; Debra Waters, We are Nothing More than Birds; Lucy Bignall, Ham’s Place; Kerry Jewell, The Ant House; Clare Chandler, Your Bed; Edward Hogan, The Greenland Shark and Kate Wilson, Yellow Rose Fever.
After the readings, we had a fun prize draw, won by Emily Devane. She correctly guessed Hilary Mantel as the famous author who had been given BSSA postcards to hand to fellow writers. Then it was time to open the 2023 award and Alison introduced our judge Farhana Shaikh managing editor of Dahlia Publishing and a huge short story enthusiast. She congratulated the 2022 authors and said she was, ‘looking forward to seeing what people were writing as it changes year on year.’ So, get writing!
On a final note, the anthology should soon be available on the Ad Hoc Fiction website ─ we’ll let you know when it’s up. We also have copies of past anthologies for sale via Ad Hoc Fiction, our website and from Amazon.
We wish you a restful, happy time over the festive period.
Jane, Jude and Alison