Shortlisted BSSA 2023

Congratulations to all the shortlisted writers (arranged here in alphabetical order). We’re thrilled to be publishing their wonderful stories in our 2023 BSSA anthology. Publication expected in November 2023. Read our judge Farhana Shaikh’s general comments about all the stories she read.

Dan Biddle

Dan Biddle who wrote the shortlisted story,’Please Hold’, grew up in Worcester, UK. He moved to London after university and has yet to convince his family that they could live anywhere else. After a brief period as a singer-songwriter (good luck finding that album), he redirected his creativity to the nobler pursuits of writing, drawing comics andmixing the perfect Old Fashioned. He is @DanBiddle most places youcare to look online.

William Davidson

William Davidson wrote the shortlisted story,’Best in the Living World.’ His short stories and flash fiction have been published in various anthologies, including Solstice Shorts (Arachne Press), Rattle Tales (The Brighton Prize) and Dandelion Years (Ad Hoc Fiction). He has twice won the Bath Flash Fiction Award. He has an MA and MFA in Creative Writing from York St John University, and teaches at Converge, an education project at the university that provides courses for people who use mental health services. He also leads an ecotherapy book club at St Nicks, a thriving nature reserve in York.

Paul Duffy

Paul Duffy, who wrote the shortlisted story, ‘The Lensing Light’,is an author and archaeologist based in the Wicklow Mountains. His short fiction has been published in the Irish Times, broadcast on Ireland’s national radio (RTE Radio 1) and has been shortlisted for several awards. His debut novel, Run with the Hare, Hunt with the Hound – an immersive and sensory narrative set in 12th century Ireland, was published in 2022 by Cynren Press.

Stewart Gott

Stewart Gott, who wrote the shortlisted story ‘Catawba Headlock´, lives in Kent. In 2020 he took early retirement from his Civil Service career to concentrate on a new venture, writing fiction. The following year he was selected for The London Library’s Emerging Writers Programme, and thisproved pivotal in helping him to develop his creative writing skills. In 2022 he was shortlisted for The Bridport Prize (Short Story), and won first prize in a Daily Telegraph travel writing competition. He recently completed his first novel, a tall tale of snakes and supernatural intervention, for which he isseeking representation.

Robin Heaney

Robin Heaney who wrote the shortlisted story,’Morning on the Lake’, is retired and lives in Worcestershire. Sometimes, during senior moments, he drifts into delusions that he will one day be able to play the piano properly. Or one day finish reading Ulysses. He stumbled into writing when the late, great Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn (MA Creative Writing, Bath Spa) started a local Writers’ Group in 2009. Members have been a constant source of encouragement and helpful criticism. He has never had anything published because he has neverbefore had enough bottle to give it a go. He is astonished and delighted that his first few steps havetravelled so far.

Rowe Irvin

Rowe Irvin who wrote the shortlisted story,’The Root of the Tongue is Buried in the Earth’ is a writer, artist and researcher. She is currently undertaking a PhD in Creative Writing atthe University of Manchester, with a focus on gender in folklore and oral tradition.

Rowe’s writing has been shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize and has appeared in Prototype and an anthologyof contemporary folk tales by DancingBear Books. Her collaborative work, Quiver, made with the artist Georg Wilson and inspired by the ritual traditions of Imbolc and Lupercalia, is published as a limited edition artist’s book. She is currently working on her first novel.

Sumana Khan

Sumana Khan
who wrote the shortlisted story, ‘Inhale’, is a Bengaluru-born writer and data analyst living in Reading, Berkshire. She plots graphs by day and nefarious storylines at all other hours. Her unpublished crime novel The Good Twin bagged the third place as well as the Readers’ Choice award in the SILeeds Literary Prize (2020). Her short stories have been published in the Writing Magazine, and have been longlisted/shortlisted/highly commended in various competitions —2019 Royal Society of Literature’s VS Pritchett short story competition; 2016 Just Write competition; 2016 Manchester Short Story competition. She has a MLitt in Creative Writing and a PhD in Psychology.

Elen Lewis

Elen Lewis who wrote the shortlisted story, ‘Table for 3’ is a writer and secondary school teacher. Following a career as a ghostwriter, when she wrote 20 books she cant talk about, Elen now teaches English at Waldegrave School in Greater London. Elen’s poetry has been exhibited’at The Story Museum, The Foundling Museum and the V & A in London. She was shortlisted in the Bristol Short Story Prize in 2022. Elen was born in Llangollen in the foothills of Snowdonia and read English at Oxford University. Elen lives with her husband, two children and a dog called Bee, in South West London.

Emily Macdonald

Emily Macdonald who wrote the shortlisted sory ‘Watching the Rotorangi Girls’, was born in England but emigrated with her family to New Zealand at a young age. She has won and been placed in several writing competitions and has work published in print anthologies and on-line journals including Fictive Dream, Reflex Fiction, Lucent Dreaming, Retreat West, Ellipsis Zine, Roi Fainéant, Flash Frontier, and The Phare. She lives in London and works in the UK wine trade. In writing, and in wine, she likes variety, good structure, and persistent flavour. Twitter: ek_macdonald

Gemma Reeves

Gemma Reeves who wrote the shortlisted story, ‘Red is the Ruling Colour,’ is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London. She graduated with distinction from the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and holds an MA in Twentieth Century Literature from Goldsmiths. She has co-written non-fiction books and her fiction has been shortlisted and longlisted for various prizes including: the V.S. PritchettShort Story Prize, Bridport Prize, and Brick Lane Bookshop Short Story Prize.Victoria Park, Gemma Reeveś debut novel, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2021, and by Atlantide in Italy in 2022. Her second novel, Mamele, is forthcoming from Borough Press in 2024.

Ben Sorgiovanni

Ben Sorgiovanni who wrote the shortlisted story, ‘The Body,’ has recently returned to writing after a long hiatus. In October of this year he’ll be commencing an MA in creative writing. He’s from Australia originally but currently lives in Oxford with his family.

Jon Stapley

Jon Stapley who wrote the shorlisted story ‘Dad is Online,’is a writer who lives in London. His stories have been published in Short Fiction Journal, and in 2022 he received Second Prize in the Short Fiction / University of Essex Short Story Prize. For a day job he writes freelance about technology, art and in particular photography – he is a keen (andextremely amateur) photographer who owns a lot of film cameras that are older than he is. An avidshort fiction reader, he has recently read and loved collections by Colin Barrett, Mariana Enriquez,Yuri Herrera, Susan Sontag and Ted Chiang, to name a few.

Sarah Tinsley

Sarah Tinsley who wrote the shortlisted story, ‘Kalon Kakon’, is a British writer living in France. She’s drawn to nature, amplifying marginalised voices and helping others explore their creativity. Her short fiction has been published widely including in Mslexia and Litro and she came third in the Bristol Short Story Prize 2021. She has an MA in Creative Writing from City University. Her first novel The Shadows We Cast won the ‘Spread the Word/Bookouture’ competition in 2020 and was published in January 2022. She runs workshops and coordinates Write By You, hosting workshops for underrepresented young female writers in the UK. Connect at or @sarahtinsleyuk

Charlie Wührer

Charlie Wührer who wrote the shortlisted story, ‘Onion Dog’, is a queer writer and literary translator from the West Midlands of the UK. She lives in Berlin, where she is currently translating plays and writing a novel. Charlie’s writing can be found in literary journals, in competition anthologies, spoken on audio porn apps, read at spoken-word events in Berlin, and on surtitle screens in theatres across Germany.