Author Archives: Editor

Shortlisted authors’ bios

Congratulations again to all authors shortlisted for the Bath Short Story Award 2017. The titles of their wonderful stories, together with their pictures and biographies are listed here in alphabetical surname order. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Local Prize, Acorn Award and commended writers, chosen by our shortlist judge, senior literary agent Euan Thorneycroft, are listed separately on the winners’ post. We look forward to seeing all the stories in print in our forthcoming 2017 anthology, which will be launched in Bath this autumn. Euan’s comments on the shortlist are below:

“What a challenge? But an exciting one. The standard of the shortlist was very high and I would like to congratulate all the authors who made that list. Short stories are strange beasts – one day, a particular story might get under your skin. But on rereading, leave you a little cold. A detail that you passed over on a first read might make itself apparent to you on a second. I could only choose five winners but rest assured, they all left a mark.”

‘Speak no Evil’ by  David Butler. David is a multi-award winning novelist, poet, short-story writer and playwright. The most recent of his three published novels, City of Dis (New Island) was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, 2015. His second poetry collection, All the Barbaric Glass, was published in March 2017 from Doire Press. Literary prizes include the Maria Edgeworth (twice) and Fish International Award for the short story, the Scottish Community Drama, Cork Arts Theatre and British Theatre Challenge awards for drama, and the Féile Filíochta, Ted McNulty, Brendan Kennelly and Poetry Ireland / Trocaire awards for poetry

 

‘Hollow’ by Bridgitte Cummings. Bridgitte was born in the UK but is now resident in Australia. She has had short stories published in both the UK and Australia, including publication in the Australian Big Issue Fiction Edition 2016. She is currently working on her first novel.

 

‘Paid in Full’ by Catherine Finch During her 30 years in teaching, Catherine wrote lovely stories, plays and musicals for children and tedious documents for school inspectors.  Although reluctant to leave the village school where she was head teacher, she is delighted to have found space in her life for some real writing.  She has been shortlisted and placed in a number of competitions, including Flash 500 and TSS, and has completed two novels. Catherine is married with two grown-up children.  She divides her time between Lancashire and South West France, and is indebted to the Parisot Writing Group for their enthusiasm and encouragement.

‘Laughing and Turning Away’ by Patrick Holloway. Patrick is an Irish writer who currently teaches and writes in Brazil. His stories and poetry have been published by Overland, Bath Flash Fiction, Poetry Ireland Review, among others. His bilingual book of poetry was published in 2016. He’s been shortlisted for many awards including the Manchester Fiction Prize.  He would like to dedicate more time to reading and writing but enjoys the better things in life, which require a little bit of money, therefore he divides his time between teaching, writing and travelling. He misses Ireland, a lot. Not so much the weather. 

 

‘Nico and Moliere’ by Alexander Knights. Alexander spent 10 years as a travel guide editor and loves writing stories inspired by places. His London tales come out of a fascination with the city he has lived in for most of his adult life and he also blogs about this great labyrinth at www.londonimagined.com He has an MA in creative writing from Birkbeck and has published short stories in Litro Magazine, Riptide Journal and The Mechanics’ Institute Review

 

‘Into the Looking Glass’ by Shannon Savvas A New Zealand writer living in Cyprus, Shannon has had one story called The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Woman, published in Headland’s inaugural issue January 2015,  was short-listed in the Page & Blackmore short story competition 2017 and long-listed in the Bath Flash Fiction competition 2017. Has failed miserably at writing her novel, re-writes in double figures, but lives with hope.

 

‘Big Bones‘ by Harriet Springbett. Harriet lives in rural France with her French partner and teenage daughters. Her debut novel, Tree Magic, was published by Impress Books in March 2017 and she is now seeking representation for her second novel. Harriet grew up in West Dorset and qualified as a manufacturing engineer before fleeing to France in 1995 to escape machines and numbers. She studied French at Pau university but only became bilingual when she met her partner, who taught her slang and rude words.

 

‘Seen/Unseen’ by Colin Walsh. Colin was born and raised in Ireland. He has lived in Scotland, France and Quebec and currently lives in Belgium, where he started writing fiction in 2016. ‘Seen/Unseen’ will be his first published story.

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‘Hunger in the Air’ by Judith Wilson. Judith is a writer and journalist. She has won the Retreat West Short Story Contest, 2016 and 2nd prize for the inaugural Colm Toibin International Short Story Award 2016; her stories have been longlisted for the Ink Tears Short Story Contest, 2016 and commended for the Cinnamon Press Annual Short Story Prize, 2016. Judith is also the author of 14 non-fiction books on interiors. She’s a Faber Academy Alumna and is putting the finishing touches to her first novel. When not in London, she’ll usually be found in Cornwall, close to the sea. www.judithwilsonwrites.com

Winners, BSSA 2017

Huge congratulations to all our winners in the International Bath Short Story Award 2017. The shortlist was judged by Senior Literary Agent Euan Thorneycroft from A M Heath. Of the winning pieces he said, “I was looking for three things – originality, authenticity and confidence – and in the stories here, all three of these were in ample evidence.” Read about our shortlisted writers and his general comments on the shortlist here and his specific comments on the winners and commended below.

First Prize, £1000  ‘This Is All Mostly True by Kathy Stevens. Click on the title to read her story.

Euan comments: “I  loved this story from the word go. Both funny and heart-breaking. We are immediately grabbed by the unique voice of Elsie, a teenager with unspecified personal problems (although this point is never laboured), and who reveals her acerbic family dynamics through frank observations.

It leaves its emotional mark by offsetting the casual, frank tone of the narrator with the obvious severity of her episodes, the frictions of her family home and the sad sense of her isolation. Elsie’s absorption with storytelling is, on the surface, an inventive, amusing lens, but it becomes a desperately sad force for the reader as her difficulties show through behind that drive for escapism. It finishes with a gut-punch as her fascination with writing has equipped her with a language to articulate the distance between her and the rest of the world. A writer of huge confidence.”

 

Kathy Stevens  was born near Stratford-upon-Avon in 1991. She has a BA English Literature from Bath Spa University, and is the recipient of the Kowitz Scholarship at UEA, where she’s near to completing her MA in  Creative Writing. Her short stories have appeared in Litro, Prole, the Bath Short Story Award 2016 and Bath Flash Fiction Award anthologies, Supernatural Tales Magazine, The Literateur, The Cadaverine, Patrician Press and Firefly.Besides writing, Kathy is a keen guitarist and music fanatic, who enjoys 1950’s fashion, rock’n’roll dancing and anything involving boats. She’s working on a literary novel about a dysfunctional family.

Second prize, £200. Performance in the Hills by Mary Griese. Click on the title to read her story.

Euan comments:”I thought this story was one of the most individual of all that I read. A recently bereaved woman, alone on her farm, dealing with her grief. There’s a heavy, heady atmosphere to this piece, the tone being set from the captivating first line, with an almost dreamlike quality in places. But the author doesn’t overstep here. The story is also grounded in the reality of rural Wales. The depiction of this rural landscape feels totally authentic. I loved the seemingly small, but keen-eyed observations that appear along the way – a blue tit’s frantic descent through the branches, the young boy changing direction to take the gate rather than the bent down fence. I think the emotional tone is handled incredibly well. We don’t dare feel hopeful at the close, but the vision of the young boy working with the horse – in the dark – and the widow unseen and ignored is a beautiful and haunting ending. I found this to be a story that got better and better with each read.”

Mary Griese is a novelist, short-story writer and artist with an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. She is currently seeking publication for her debut novel Man in Sheep’s Clothing and is represented by literary agent, Jane Conway Gordon. Her memoir, Sand on the Mountain won third prize in the Fish Memoir Prize, 2017. She has written articles for the Guardian and farming magazines. Thirty years ago, whilst running a sheep farm on the Black Mountain, she formed her arty business: ‘Slightly Sheepish’. She recently published and illustrated a picture book: An Alphabet of Farm Animals.

Third prize, £100 Forget Me Not by Sarah Mackey. Click on the title to read her story.

Euan comments:” A beautiful, sad study of a family buckling under the weight of memory loss. Virginia’s memory has been fading out for two years, forcing her into retirement and pulling away many of her relationships. Her beloved garden is the last sanctum of peace and stability, and through Virginia’s husband Henry, we feel the pain of its loss, and the conflict as their well-meaning daughter repeatedly gets the tone wrong in her attempts to help. The husband’s love for his wife and his desolation at the end of the story –after a brief moment of hope– are extremely moving. As is the strained relationship between mother and daughter. This is a well-constructed story.”

 

Sarah Mackey grew up in the West Midlands and lives in London. Over the past year she has attended creative writing courses at City Lit, which has inspired her to write short fiction. Sarah was long-listed for the 2016 Words and Women prose competition and has been selected for inclusion in the Between the Lines Anthology, 2017.

 

 

Commended and recipient of the BSSA Local Prize£50 in book vouchers from Mr B’s Emporium of Books,, Bath, Breaking the Glass-blower’s Heart by Chloe Turner. Click on the title to read her story.

Euan comments: “This is a very confident story of a young Spanish au-pair finding herself working for a middle-class family in England. The breaking of a vase ripples out so that we see the strained dynamics of this tense little pocketed family, with its suggestion of infidelity and lovelessness. This is a very well-written story, full of fantastic descriptive detail.”

Chloe Turner’s stories have been published in online and print journals including The Mechanics’ Institute Review, The Nottingham Review, For Book’s Sake Weekend Read, Kindred, Halo, The Woven Tale Press and Hark. Long-gone Mary was published by InShort Publishing (Australia) as a standalone chapbook in 2015, and Waiting for the Runners is one of a series of six chapbooks available this autumn from TSS Publishing. Chloe won the short story category of the Fresher Prize 2017, and received a Special Commendation in the Elbow Room Prize 2016. She tweets at @turnerpen2paper, and blogs about books and writing at www.turnerpen2paper.com.

Commended, £30 in book tokens, North ridge by Fiona Rintoul. Click on the title to read her story.

Euan comments: “A short story with a brilliant, powerful conceit which packs a real emotional punch as we near the inevitable ending. We are sucked into the claustrophobic wait as a woman minds her child in a car, coming to terms with what she knew from the day’s outset: that her husband did not intend to return from his mountain climb.

The decision to tell the story from the husband’s point of view is a brave one. Are these the real-time thoughts of a man dying of exposure, his only comforts, the clammy car below, where he knows his wife waits, bracing herself against the agony of accepting her loss?”

Fiona Rintoul is a writer, journalist and translator. She is author of The Leipzig Affair  and translator of Outside Verdun by Arnold Zweig. The Leipzig Affair was short-listed for the 2015 Saltire first book of the year award and serialised on BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime. Fiona’s most recent book, Whisky Island, a non-fiction title about the Isle of Islay and its whiskies, was shortlisted in the 2017 Fortnum & Mason food and drink awards. Fiona lives in Glasgow and on the Isle of Harris.

 

The Acorn Award for an unpublished writer of fiction, £50. Everything Must Go by Sandra Marslund. Selected from the shortlist by the BSSA team. Click on the title to read her story.

The BSSA team loved the suspense and structure in this story, which builds,  as the seasons unfold, over one year. A woman whose husband has died in a roof accident, is troubled by a persistent knocking in the attic. But she can’t bring herself to climb up and look. As time passes, the complex relationship between husband and wife is slowly revealed. We very much liked that nothing is completely spelled out. Eventually, the woman, with the support of her teenage daughter, is able to visit the roof space to find out what is there. The striking last line says it all.

Sandra Marslund is a translator of Danish and Norwegian books and commercial texts and also contributes book reviews and literary articles to national and local publications such as the Guardian, Mslexia and Manor Magazine. She has always written, but only started writing ‘seriously’ after completing an MA in Creative Writing from Exeter University in 2016, for which she received a Distinction. She recently began entering her short stories to competitions where she has been both long and shortlisted. She now dreams of getting published and is working on her first novel. She lives in Devon with her two teenage daughters..

 

BSSA 2017 Shortlist

Many congratulations to all the writers who made the shortlist for BSSA 2017. Read all about them on our shortlist bios post

2017 Bath Short Story Award Shortlist`
Story Title Author
Big Bones Harriet Springbett
Breaking the glass-blower’s heart Chloe Turner
Everything must go Sandra Marslund
Forget Me Not Sarah MacKey
Hollow Bridgitte Cummings
Hunger In The Air Judith Wilson
Into the Looking Glass Shannon Savvas
Laughing and Turning Away Patrick Holloway
Nico and Moliere Alexander Knights
North ridge Fiona Rintoul
Paid In Full Catherine Finch
Performance in the hills Mary Griese
Seen/Unseen Colin Walsh
Speak No Evil David Butler
This Is All Mostly True Kathy Stevens

BSSA 2017 Longlist

Thank you to all the writers in 45 countries who submitted this year’s stories : UK, USA, Australia, Ireland, Canada, India, New Zealand, France, Germany, South Africa, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Spain, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Aruba, Belgium, Brazil, Finland, Italy, Japan, Malta, Singapore, Sweden, Angola, Armenia, Austria, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey and United Arab Emirates. We can truly call ourselves international as over a third of the entries came from outside the UK, once again ticking off all continents apart from Antarctica – next year, perhaps a research scientist based there will pick up a pen and enter?

What a year it’s been!  The political turmoil and unrest fanning out across the globe has provided a rich lode for writing and, although there were few stories explicitly on  Brexit  or Trump, for example, the underlying themes  have emerged in a number of the 1100 stories we received. Racism, discrimination, loss of identity and the displacement of people through war and poverty continue to resonate with writers, the best stories engaging the reader through powerful prose and possibly an unusual perspective. The same is true of stories about death, illness, dementia and growing old where finding a fresh angle can lift the subject.

Ultimately, the truth of the story is in the telling of it and writers explored a range of genres to do just that. Dystopia, magical realism, historical/science fiction and even the Western emerged from under a general umbrella of literary fiction. Although the majority of stories were either in the 1st or 3rd person, a number of writers moved to the 2nd person, which is notoriously difficult to handle but when done well can create a real connection with the reader. It was exciting to see experimentation with style, layout and contemporary forms of communication incorporated into the narrative. One story was entirely in text speak.

With such a range of styles, genres and subjects, it was not easy to whittle the entries down to a longlist of 52 (four stories have now been withdrawn so it’s now 48)  but these are the stories that we and our reading team loved the best.  These were the stories that moved us, made us smile, perhaps shocked or helped inform us about the way of the world. Congratulations to all who entered and especially to those who wrote the stories listed below.

 

2017 Bath Short Story Award Longlist
Story Title Author
A Bonnie Jumper Lesley Holmes
A Typical Day in Ketchikan Myranda Dapolito
Big Bones Harriet Springbett
Bionic Girl Mara Blazic
Biting Back Richard Newton
Blue Bethany Swale
Bo-Peep Kate Jefford
Breaking the glass-blower’s heart Chloe Turner
Coiled Paula K Read
d FEC Luke Melia
Dirty Confetti Rebecca F John
Dover, Japan Michael Milton
Elephants don’t live in the jungle Victoria Richards
Everything Must Go Sandra Marslund
Faith Ruth Frendo
For Your Sake Edwina Bowen
Forget Me Not Sarah Mackey
Hollow Bridgitte Cummings
Hummingbirds Sally Syson
Hunger In The Air Judith Wilson
Into the Looking Glass Shannon Savvas
Laughing and Turning Away Patrick Holloway
Little Comrade Joe Eurell
Nico and Moliere Alexander Knights
North Ridge Fiona Rintoul
November Oscar Janet Petrie
Paid In Full Catherine Finch
Pink Girls Kevin Chant
Performance in the Hills Mary Griese
Reservoir Road Neil Campbell
Seen/Unseen Colin Walsh
Speak No Evil David Butler
Spectator Ciaron Kelly
Still Jenny Firth Cozens
Sunday Morning at the Trampoline Park William Davidson
The Cake Millie Brierley
The Ending Julie A Stewart
The Fury And The Words Anneliese Schultz
The Girly Knicker Club Andrew Haysey
The Only Language She Didn’t Understand Robert Kibble
The Shadow Architect Mandy Huggins
The train and the tide Alun Evans
Then I Am Gone Emily Devane
This card has been left blank for your own message Claire MacRae
This Is All Mostly True Kathy Stevens
Ticket Office Clerk Application – Written Skills Test Martin Nathan
Waiting for the Queen to Return Edwina Bowen
Winter Break Megan Taylor

Mega author news

We’re thrilled to share great news from four authors who’ve been published in our anthologies in recent years:

Today, 30th May, A Ton of Malice‘ — The Half-Life of an Irish Punk in London, by Barry McKinley, is published by Old Street Publishing. Barry won second prize in BSSA 2016 with his wonderful story, ‘Almost Home’ . A review in The Times says of A Ton of Malice “This dazzling book is categorised as autofiction, which means autobiography with added fibs…”.

Tomorrow, 31st May,  Anne Corlett’s debut novel  The Space Between the Stars is launched in Toppings Bath.  Anne Corlett won the local BSSA prize in 2014 with The Language of Birds’ and  is also published in the  BSSA 2015 anthology  with The Witching Hour. “The Space Between the Stars deals with a woman travelling back to Earth to search for her lost love after a virus wipes out most of mankind.”

On July 11th, Rowena Macdonald’s novel ‘The Threat Level Remains Severe ‘ will be published by Aardvark Bureau. Rowena’s short story ‘Stars’ was published in  BSSA  2013 online anthology. Of The Threat Remains Severe’ writer Maureen Freely  says “Deliciously erotic and hugely readable, with some wonderful moments of illumination” Robert Edric writes,”Surely one of the most insightful, honest and resassuringly humane tales of the true workings of the Mother of Parliaments in all its shabby, slapdash and vainglorious reality”.

Eileen Merriman’s debut YA novel, Pieces of You,was published yesterday, 29th May in New Zealand by Penguin. Eileen’s publisher says “This is a brilliant, funny, heart-breaking love story about falling in love for the first time and dealing with the fall-out when things start to fall apart”…”Eileen is a really exciting new voice on the  YA landscape, we’ve already snapped up her second novel.” Eileen was commended in BSSA 2015 with her story ‘Hummingbird Heart’ and shortlisted in BSSA 2016 with her story ‘I Dare You.’ Read both stories in our anthologies for those years.

Congratulations to everyone. Four new wonderful books to add to our BSSA author shelves. We hope you will buy them too.

Jude, Jane Anna.

May 2017

 

 

Thank you for entering BSSA 2017

Thank you to everyone who entered the International Bath Short Story Award this year. We closed 1st May, at the beginning of this week. You kept our administrator very busy on the last day!  Our stats showed that we had 2069 views on the website last Monday.  This year we had entries from 45 different countries.

We’ll reveal  the exact number of entries after the results are out in mid-late July. At the moment, the ten members of our initial reading team are busy enjoying your stories and selecting choices for the long list. It’s a very interesting process and everyone learns a lot from the stories submitted. The BSSA team selects the final long list and Senior Literary Agent from A M Heath, Euan Thorneycroft   will judge the short list and choose the winning and commended stories.

If you want to be first to get notifications of the long list, short list and winners, please subscribe to the  mailing list to receive emails on the side bar.

Good luck to all.

Jude, Jane,  Anna

The Last Minute Club

We’re ready for the big party at the BSSA 2017  Last Minute Club with entries pinging into the entry email inbox every few minutes.  We’re expecting this to continue until the stroke of midnight, Monday May 1st. Then the party will really be in full swing.

If you’re a procrastinator, read this interesting article  Being a  procrastinator myself,  I am rather taken with the idea that delaying until the last minute increases creativity.

So what happens after we receive your last minute entries?  Our band of experienced readers, who are all writers of different genders and ages,  read batches of stories as they come in. All  stories are read blind. Two readers read each one and decide  together whether to submit stories to the long list.

The final long list and the short list is agreed by the  BSSA team.  Literary Agent Euan Thorneycroft is our short list judge. He’ll select the winners. We expect the final results to be out by the end of July. Subscribe on this site  to receive email alerts and be the first to know who’s won.

Good luck!

Jude. April 29th.

Time is running out

We close at midnight Monday 1st  May. Give yourself the chance of hitting the bull’s eye and winning £1000 first prize, second prize of £200, third prize of £100, £50 prize for an unpublished writer or  £50 local prize by checking —

  • The rules — there are  always a number of writers who  submit stories way over the word limit of 2200 words. Or put their names on stories.  Don’t risk getting disqualified for those reasons.
  •  Give our readers a pleasant reading experience by writing in a clear font. Bold fonts are not easy.  Or any fancy italics or Comic Sans. Times New Roman is a safe bet.
  • If you are entering online, please be sure to  send your stories and paypal receipts to the correct email address which is on the entry page.
  • Put the correct postage on your hard copy stories.

Finally give your story a final once over for typos etc. We’re not too strict here, but a beautifully presented story, is a bonus. Zap a few adjectives and adverbs maybe,. Check the beginning paragraph. Does it hook the reader in? Check the final paragraph. Does it feel satisfying, not too cosy, not too obscure? What about the title? Does it add something to the story

Good luck!  Our readers are already on the case and results will be out in mid or late July.

Jude,

BSSA team April 28th.

 

 

 

 

Finding the right title

How do you create a good title? So much has been written about this. Good ones stay with you for ever. I love Raymond Carver’s famous short story title, which is also the title of one of his collections,  “What we talk about when we talk about love.” Gordon Lish, his editor, retitled it  “I Am Going to Sit Down.” but thankfully,  it  was never published in that version.

There’s a fun thing I saw recently somewhere online, which suggested writing  bad versions of famous titles of novels and short stories. For example, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ could be ‘The Fruits of Anger’. Worse, another Steinbeck novel. ‘Of Mice and Men’ could be translated into  ‘Of Rodents and Males.”What about ‘Offspring and Their Romantic Partners’? Or ‘Fondness in the Season of the Plague’. Silly, but useful to study the originals and see how they work. Is it the weight of the words, or what they encompass about the book. Is it the rhythm or the length of the title?

Some of the most used titles for short stories are ‘The Gift’, ‘Dust’, ‘Flight’.”Lost and Found’, ‘Memories’, ‘Skin.’ We have had several entries with these titles at Bath Short Story Award. One year we had two stories on the short list titled ‘Flight’. They were good stories, but different titles could have reflected something else in the piece and may have made them even stronger.

Maybe the words in the picture on this post  could inspire a short story. Or a title?

So before you send in your entry, check your title. Does it enhance your story? Could you extend or contract it? Is it a cliche or overused? Have fun making title revisions. And remember, we close in two weeks on 1st May.

BSSA team member, Jude, April 2017.

 

Dream up a short story

 

Bath Short Story Award 2017 ends on May 1st, but you’ve still time to write and enter your up to 2200 word story.

Unless you are able to practice lucid dreaming, you can’t control your dreams and they’re good story material as a result, often taking unusual angles on well-worn themes or offering you something wonderfully surreal. Steven King apparently dreamed the whole plot of ‘Misery’ – remember the plot about the author captured by a female psychopath?

In dreams, events unfold in ways you might not have imagined.  Interestingly, they often fall into three acts, like a fairy tale.

Have you remembered a dream  recently? If so, write it down and see if it has three scenes, a beginning middle and end. What is the crisis point in this dream? What is the resolution?  If  you can only remember a fragment of a dream, treat it like a prompt. Take a word, a dream character or an atmosphere from your dream memory and get writing.

Want to try out more ways of turning dreams into fiction after this year’s Bath Short Story Award is over on May 1st? Come to the first ever Festival entirely devoted to Flash Fiction in Bath on 24/25th June in Bath. Jude, one of our BSSA team members is the director of the festival.  She’s running an early morning Dream Breakfast on the Sunday morning of the festival. Coffee and croissants provided.  Here, you’ll be able to try out other ways of creating a short-short story from your dream or dream fragment.

All the major players in the Flash Fiction world ,UK will be at the festival running workshops to get you to try out different ways of approaching short short fiction. And we’ve just learned that  a distinguished International Guest – renowned short story, flash fiction writer and teacher, Pamela Painter from the USA is coming to teach and read. There are also, talks, a  book launch an evening of readings, a festival-long contest  and more. Do come! flashfictionfestival.com