Author Archives: Editor

Judges’ Comments, BSSA 2022

Just under 1000 entries were submitted to the 2022 Award and we thank our dedicated and enthusiastic group of initial readers for helping the team arrive at a longlist of fifty. From there it was a difficult task for us to find the shortlist of twenty brilliant stories which we sent to our final judge, writer, editor and teacher, Paul McVeigh Thank you very much to him for making his selections and for his comments below. The BSSA team’s comments on the stories selected for The Acorn Award for an unpublished writer of fiction and The Local Prize are also included at the end of Paul’s report. We’re looking forward to reading all the winning and shortlisted stories in print in our ninth paperback anthology, which will be launched in November, 2022.

Judge’s Comments by Paul McVeigh

When judging, I read all the stories and then re-read those I have shortlisted from the original shortlist. At this point a number of the stories could win (in fact, on different days there’s often a different winner) and you are reading to whittle down further. Then a story stands out, in this case ‘Dead Dog’, because it actually gets better with each read. The 2022 shortlist was strong. It speaks to the reputation of the Bath Short Story Prize that the stories had such variety in genre, plot and style with impressive quality and I very much enjoyed reading them.

‘Dead Dog’, the first prize, is such an accomplished story it had me intrigued as to who the author was. I wanted to hear their story. ‘Dead Dog’ is at times absurd and darkly funny and, at others, moving and thoughtful. Some stories start strong then fade but ‘Dead Dog’ sustains surprise right up until the end. The author does an impressive job of threading a number of strands and tones into one tight tale. I will read it again.

‘The Ghosts That Dance Between Us’, the second prize, is haunting, mysterious and wise. It has sentences that read like lines of poetry. The story conjures a strange world and transports you into it. I’m drawn to stories where I have to think, where I have to work out what’s happening, I love that relationship with the author. I can’t say for sure that I understood the story completely but that drew me into it further. It is a story that has stayed with me and I think it will stay with you too.

‘Stick People’, the third prize, manages to bring us back to the millenium NYE, take us to India and its (in)famous train experience, while capturing accurately the strain on a young couple travelling together. We discover that this strain is more than just the irritation of tired travellers, there is heartbreaking loss at its core. A story so believably rendered.

Commended: I loved the voice of the narrator in ‘Nobody Believes a Woman Named Joanne’. I loved the rawness, the emotional register of the character – so strong yet so vulnerable.

Commended: ‘Indian Tree’. I commended this because the first half of the story is really quite something. It manages an extremely difficult thing, which is to descibe the impact of a bomb, capturing all its horror. The author makes it seem so real and spares us none of the gore and human destruction.

BSSA Team Comments:

The Acorn Award for an Unpublished Writer of Fiction: ‘Acts of Love on the 17.22 from Bristol Temple Meads’

We warmed to Iris, a ticket collector who looks out for her commuters, at the heart of this satisfying character-driven story. Told from multiple viewpoints, the passenger’s relationships and Iris’s backstory are revealed through a clever relay of overlapping and sometimes contradictory observations, as the train speeds along.

Local Prize: ‘Starling Boy’

What an exuberant and original use of language, with echoes of the beat poets and Dylan Thomas. This story hurtles along but, at its core, is the sad tale of a young lad and his alcoholic mother – all the more poignant when buried in an explosion of the sights and sounds of school life.

Winners, BSSA 2022

Huge congratulations to all our winning and commended writers in the International Bath Short Story Award, 2022. The winning and commended stories were selected by our judge, writer, editor and writing teacher, Paul McVeigh and the Local and Acorn Award prizes were chosen by the BSSA team. Read the comments on the stories in our judges’ report. These winning stories, along with all the other brilliant shortlisted stories, will be published in our ninth anthology, to be published by Ad Hoc Fiction in November 2022.

First Prize Winner: ‘Dead Dog’ by Kate O’Grady

Kate O’Grady lives in Stroud. Her short stories have been long listed/short listed or placed in Bath Flash Fiction Competition, Reflex Fiction Flash Fiction Competition, The Phare Short Story Competition, Exeter Short Story Competition, Gloucester Writers Network competition, Stroud Book Festival Short Story competition, and published in Storgy Magazine, The Phare Literary Magazine, and Stroud Short Stories Anthology.

Second Prize Winner: ‘The Ghosts that Dance Between Us’ by Emily Devane

Emily Devane is a writer, editor and teacher from Ilkley, West Yorkshire. Her first print publication was the Bath Short Story Award anthology, 2015. Since then, her work has been widely published, most recently in Ambit and Janus Literary. She has won the Bath Flash Fiction Award, a Word Factory Apprenticeship and a Northern Writers’ Award. Her story ‘The Last King of Connemaidh’ was one of four pieces shortlisted for The Mogford Prize for Food and Drink Writing, 2022. Emily teaches creative writing workshops (@wordsmoor), co-hosts Word Factory’s Strike! Short Story Club, and is a founding editor at FlashBack Fiction

Third Prize Winner: ‘Stick People’ by Emer Hoare

Emer Hoare worked for many years as a television creative in documentary and current affairs programming. She has recently completed an MA in creative writing at The Open University, graduating earlier this year. In 2021 she was longlisted in the Irish Writer’s Centre Novel Fair. Emer has been working hard on her writing and is pure delighted to have a story in the anthology. She lives in Dublin with her family.

Commended: ‘Indian Tree’ by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke has been writing for over thirty years and has sixteen published books encompassing both fiction and non fiction. She has just finished an account of a scandalous relationship in Georgian England, research for which took her all over England. She has also completed her next novel – a slow-burn thriller. She lives in Dorset close to the sea.

Commended: ‘Nobody Believes a Woman Named Joanne’ by Anna Dempsey

Anna Dempsey is an American-born writer and teacher based in London. She is currently working towards a PhD in Creative Writing/Creative Grieving at Bath Spa University. She won the 2019 Costa Short Story Award and has been published by Dear Damsels, Popshot, Litro and Ellipsis Zine.

Acorn Award for an Unpublished Writer of Fiction: ‘Acts of Love on the 17.22 from Bristol Temple Meads’ by David Abbott

David Abbott lives up a hill just outside of Abergavenny in Wales with his boyfriend and a rescue dog called Roxy. He is a one-time resident of Bath and a very occasional writer of fiction.

Local Prize winner: ‘Starling Boy’ by Jenny Tunstall

Jenny Tunstall is a short story writer currently living in North Somerset. She spent many years working in academic publishing, having previously computer modelled urban traffic congestion and sold postcards on Bournemouth pier. She distracts herself from writing by walking local footpaths, singing sea shanties with friends on the beach and haunting second-hand book shops. She lived in Montreal for several years and was shortlisted in the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) Literary Awards. She won the Home-Start Bridgwater Short Story Prize, placed second in the Saki Short Story Competition and has recently had a short story published in Mslexia.

Shortlisted writers’ bios, BSSA 2022

Congratulations to all the BSSA 2022 shortlisted writers, listed here in alphabetical order. In his general remarks, our shortlist judge Paul McVeigh said:
“The 2022 shortlist was strong. It speaks to the reputation of the Bath Short Story Prize that the stories had such variety in genre, plot and style with impressive quality and I very much enjoyed reading them.”

The 2022 anthology will be out in paperback and available from our publisher adhocfiction.com  and from Amazon in November, this year.

Lucy Bignall

Lucy Bignall, who wrote the shortlisted story ‘Ham’s Place’, was born in Zambia and grew up in Liberia, England and Saudi Arabia, before emigrating to Australia as an adult, where she lived for fifteen years. Now living in a hairy house in Darkest Buckinghamshire, she works as a violinist. teacher and choir leader and writes as much as possible. She has won 1st place in the Henshaw Press, Yeovil Literary Festival and Writer’s Forum competitions and been placed in many others, as well as being shortlisted for the Fish Memoir prize. She is currently seeking representation for a supernatural novel.

David Butler

David Butler wrote the shortlisted story ‘Hidden’. His second short story collection, Fugitive (Arlen House), and third poetry collection, Liffey Sequence (Doire Press), were both published in 2021. His third novel, City of Dis (New Island), was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, 2015.

Clare Chandler

Claire Chandler, who wrote the shortlisted story ‘Your Bed’ worked in publishing and government comms among other things, before moving to Cornwall. She now writes full-time and her published work includes plays (notably performed at the Edinburgh Festival); journalism (mags, websites and newspapers including pieces for the Guardian); short stories (various finalists for prizes including the Costa Short Story Award); and eighteen educational books. She is presently working on a book which blends nature writing and memoir with the story of a very short journey.

Michelle Christophorou

Michelle Christophorou who wrote the shortlisted story ‘The Making of Koupepia’ was born in Lancashire to a Liverpudlian mother and Greek Cypriot father. She now lives in Surrey. She is the author of novella-in-flash, Kipris (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2021), which features characters from ‘The Making of Koupepia’ (names were initially changed in order to enter the short story competition). Her short fiction has appeared in various places in print and online, and her story ‘Wearing You’ (published in National Flash Fiction Day’s FlashFlood journal) was included in the BIFFY 50 list of best UK and Irish flash 2019/20. Find out more at www.michellechristophorou.co.uk, or on Twitter @MAChristophorou.

Kate Coffey

Kate Coffey who wrote the shortlisted story ‘Bird of Paradise’ was shortlisted for the Bath Short Story Award in 2020 and has been published in New Writing Scotland and Mslexia. This story is taken from a collection of shorts she wrote whilst on the creative writing programme at New Writing South in Brighton. She has just completed her first novel.

Jane Dugdale

Jane Dugdale who wrote the shortlisted story ‘All that Remains is Hope’ is a researcher and writer. A graduate of the Birkbeck MA in Creative Writing, she is currently working on a collection of fantastical short stories and can be found on Twitter @janeannedugdale.

Gilli Fryzer

Gilli Fryzer, who wrote the shortlisted story ‘After the Good Shepherd’s Laundry, Buffalo’, has been published in short story anthologies, print magazines, and online, and performed live. Her story ‘A Kindness’ won the Mslexia Short Story Prize 2020, and was included in Sagenhafte Geschichten, a German anthology of contemporary European tales. Her dystopian folk tale ‘Corn Running’ was chosen by Zoe Gilbert as the winner of the 2019 MIR Summer Festival. One of the London Library’s selected cohort of emerging writers, Gilli works from a salvaged shepherd’s hut in the corner of a Kentish field.
www.gillistories.com
Twitter @GilliFryzer

Edward Hogan

Edward Hogan who wrote the shortlisted story ‘The Greenland Shark’ is from Derby. He has worked in libraries and colleges, and he is now a lecturer at the Open University. His novels include The Electric, and Blackmoor. Ed’s recent short stories have been longlisted for the Sunday Times Short Story Award, and shortlisted for the V.S. Pritchett Prize. His story ‘Single Sit’ won the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize in 2021. He lives in Brighton.

Natalie 0’Keeffe

Natalie O’Keeffe, who wrote the shortlisted story ‘Becoming a Ninja, 1997’, was born and (mostly) raised in Birmingham before she moved to the Scottish Highlands. Her stories typically explore issues of identity, memory, and liminality. She is currently working on her first novel. Find her on twitter: @im_nat_ok

Kerry Jewell

Kerry Jewell, who wrote the shortlisted story ‘The Ant House’ is a writer and nuclear medicine registrar, currently living in Melbourne, Australia. In 2020 she was shortlisted for The Richell Prize for emerging writers. Her short fiction has since been published in literary magazines and anthologies in Australia and New Zealand. She is currently working on her debut novel, Meddies.

Karen Jones

Karen Jones, who wrote the shortlisted story ‘Don’t Step on the Cracks’, is from Glasgow, Scotland. Her flashes have been nominated for Best of the Net and The Pushcart Prize, and her story ‘Small Mercies’ was included in Best Small Fictions 2019. In 2021, she won first prize in the Cambridge Flash Prize, Flash 500 and Reflex Fiction and was shortlisted for To Hull and Back, Bath Flash Fiction and Bath Short Story Award. Her novella-in-flash When It’s Not Called Making Love is published by Ad Hoc Fiction. She is Special Features Editor at New Flash Fiction Review and an editor for National Flash Fiction Day anthology.

Debra Waters

Debra Waters, who wrote the shortlisted story ‘We are Nothing More than Birds’, is a lifestyle journalist and a writer of short stories, memoir and flash fiction. She studied Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths. In 2020, she won The Bridport Short Story Prize for ‘Oh Hululu’. She’s been shortlisted for the Pat Kavanagh Award, the Wells Festival of Literature Short Story Prize, the Exeter Short Story Prize and the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize, and longlisted for the Manchester Fiction Prize, London Library’s Emerging Writers Programme, the Bath Flash Fiction Award, Fish Publishing’s Flash Fiction Prize and the Reflex Flash Fiction Competition. She lives in Brighton with her husband and son.

Kate Wilson

Kate Wilson who wrote the shortlisted story, ‘Yellow Rose Fever’, graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Exeter in 2021. She was selected to take part in a workshop series with Anna Maria Murphy at The Writers’ Block in Cornwall and commissioned to write a short story for their podcast series ‘Bedtime Stories for Grown-ups’ which was broadcast in February. She is a mentee on the inaugural Word Space programme for emerging south west writers run by Literature Works. ‘Yellow Rose Fever’ is her first published story.

Shortlist BSSA 2022

Many congratulations to the writers shortlisted in our 2022 Award. You are welcome to share that you are shortlisted on social media and elsewhere, but as judging is still in process, we ask you not to link your name with your story. Results will be announced on 3rd August on this website and on social media.

2021 Bath Short Story Award Shortlist
TITLE AUTHOR
Acts of Love on the 17.22 from Bristol Temple Meads tba
All that remains is hope tba
After the Good Shepherd’s Laundry, Buffalo tba
Becoming a Ninja.1997 tba
Bird of Paradise tba
Dead Dog tba
Don’t Step on the Cracks tba
Ham’s Place tba
Hidden tba
Indian Tree tba
Nobody Believes a Woman Named Joanna tba
Starling Boy tba
Stick People tba
The Ant House tba
The Ghosts That Dance Between Us tba
The Greenland Shark tba
The Making of Koupepia tba
We are nothing more than birds tba
Yellow Rose Fever tba
Your Bed tba

Longlist BSSA 2022

Many congratulations to the writers longlisted in our 2022 Award and big thanks to all those from around the world who entered. Sometimes titles are duplicated among entries and you will have received an email from us to confirm it is your story listed. You are welcome to share that you are longlisted on social media and elsewhere, but as judging is still in process, we ask you not to link your name with your story. Thank you.

2021 Bath Short Story Award Long List
TITLE AUTHOR
Acts of love on the 17.22 from Bristol Temple Meads tba
All That Remains is Hope tba
After the Good Shepherd’s Laundry, Buffalo tba
A Good Night tba
Beast tba
Becoming a Ninja tba
Bird of Paradise tba
Bitty Vee tba
Cock o’The North tba
Dead Dog tba
Don’t Step on the Cracks tba
Extending the Olive Branch tba
Flatmates tba
Ham’s Place tba
Hidden tba
His Last Mandolin tba
Hydrangea tba
I Can’t Hear You tba
Indian Tree tba
Knowing the Enemy tba
Landfill tba
Looking for Anna tba
My friend Jake tba
Nine Storeys High tba
Nobody believes a woman named Joanne tba
Obituary Notice tba
Only Me tba
Park Life tba
Polbo á Feira tba
Raju and the Tiger tba
Ratty tba
Sophia Goes Bowling at 3.AM tba
Starling Boy tba
Stick People tba
Still Life With Lemon tba
Swimming Upstream tba
The Ant House tba
The Census Worker tba
The Ghosts That Dance Between Us tba
The Greenland Shark tba
The Guising tba
The Making of Koupepia tba
The Neverending Picnic tba
The Omiyage Maker of Yamanashi tba
The Top Road tba
The Vocabulary Builder of Utopia Gardens tba
We are nothing more than birds tba
Yellow Rose Fever tba
Your_Bed tba

Last chance to enter our 2022 competition!

As we enter the final hours of our 2022 competition, it’s time to repost the advice of Kurt Vonnegut!

– Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
– Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
– Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
– Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.
– Start as close to the end as possible.
– Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them–in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
– Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
– Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

But for every rule (well, almost every rule) there is an exception. “The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor,” writes Vonnegut. “She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.”

Good luck!

Under the Bonnet of Your Story

photo by Chris Knight on
Unsplash

One week to go before our £1750 prize fund contest, Bath Short Story Award, 2022 closes at midnight BST Monday 11th April.

For those last minute writers thinking of entering our 9th award, I’m going to stretch metaphor to its limits and ask you to get under the bonnet of your story.
Yes, if your story was a car, you need to undertake some maintenance before it sets off on its extensive journey via our BSSA readers and hopefully to a winning destination. Continue reading

TWO WEEKS TO GO & tips from some great writers

In just TWO weeks we close – on Monday, April 11th.  There’s still time to write a story from scratch, redraft, edit and do the final tweaks so, if you’re at the starting blocks and still searching for inspiration, look no further than Christopher Fielden. Over the years he’s provided many resources for writers and there are some excellent story starters here  .Writing the first draft of a flash might feel like a 100 meter sprint, with a novel akin to a marathon.  BSSA has a limit of 2,200 words so possibly a middle distance 800 meters with a few hurdles thrown in? But, whatever the length, the start of a race or the opening of a story is vital in grabbling attention and setting the pace for what’s to follow. Continue reading

Ducks in a row?

Start before you’re ready. (Steven Pressfield)

In terms of writing, I think this is excellent advice. Do you wait for the perfect time, or place, or circumstance, thinking that once all your ducks are in a row, THEN you will write the perfect story? I do, especially when my confidence is low and/or the world is overwhelming (ok, nearly all the time). So, if the neighbour’s dog is driving me crazy (he doesn’t, he’s lovely, but some days I can’t filter out the occasional barking) I blame that for the fact my writing feels rubbish and I didn’t meet my goals or start the story that’s in my head or finish the one I began a few weeks ago. And the more excuses I find, the less inclined I am to sit down and write. I go downhill fast, lose a day, a few days, a week or two. Oh no! I’m a failure, but how can I be expected to be a creative genius in these (insert your own bugbears) conditions? Sound familiar? If not, well done! If yes, read on 🙂 Continue reading

What happened next? Interview with BSSA prize winning author, Hilary Taylor

We like to hear about previous prize winners’ successes. Hilary Taylor won third prize in BSSA 2018 with her story ‘Sea Defences’ and her story is published in our BSSA 2018 anthology. In this interview she tells us how she extended this prize winning short fiction into a novel with the same title, which will be published by Lightning Press on January 15th 2023. Congratulations Hilary! We also learn how she discovered her short story ‘Sea Defences’ online, analysed for an exam syllabus. A multi-genre writer, Hilary was recently a winner in the Flash 500 flash fiction contest and there’s a link to the story for you to read. She’s also given great advice for editing final short story drafts if you are thinking of entering this year’s Award.

Hilary Taylor grew up in Suffolk and Hampshire, and is a graduate of Edinburgh University. She lives in Suffolk, where she taught for almost twenty years, and now writes, reads, has serial arty-crafty obsessions (paper-making, marbling, wool-felting), and goes for long walks before breakfast. She has five grown-up children, and, at the last count, eight grandchildren. Her short fiction has won or been listed in competitions, including the Bridport Prize, Bare Fiction, the Bath Short Story Award and Flash500, and has been published in magazines and anthologies. Sea Defences is her first novel (although of course there are previous ones ‘in a drawer’, where they should probably stay.) You can find her on twitter @hilarytaylor00 Continue reading