News

New novel from BSSA 2021 prize winner, Kristen Loesch

Kristen Loesch won the third prize in our 2021 Award with her brilliant short story, ‘Important Letters’, which you can read in our 2021 Anthology, available from Ad Hoc Fiction and Amazon. This month (February 2022), her debut novel The Porcelain Doll, shortlisted in the Caledonian Novel Award and The Bath Novel Award is published in the UK and sounds fascinating: Continue reading

To Writers on Burns Night: ‘Sláinte Mhath’

Sleekit (also spelt ‘sleeket’) is my word for January 25th, Burns Night. When we asked some of our favourite Scottish writers for tips for Burns Night stories, Ian Rankin  came straight back to us with this:

And what a word it is, redolent with meaning; not just ‘having a glossy skin’ but, in its true Scottish sense, ‘artfully flattering, ingratiating, crafty or deceitful.’ Perhaps that might inspire a politically-themed story? After all, Burns himself was not just an 18th Century romantic poet but a covert radical, an advocate of the freedom of the press and a supporter of the French Revolution.
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Interview with K L Jefford, our first prize winning author in 2021

K L Jefford

Congratulations again on your wonderful story, ‘In Bed With My Sister’, which was awarded a very well deserved first place in our 2021 competition. Could you tell us a little about the story’s journey; how it started out, whether it changed much along the way?

Thank-you. This story is very important to me and I’m overwhelmed that it won first prize in this wonderful competition, and proud to be in such talented company in the anthology.
In Bed With My Sister is a fictional narrative that was seeded in scrawled notes I made at a time when someone close to me was in crisis. I’ve always been curious about the roles we take up in families and other relationships – who looks after who – and the tensions between personal and professional, especially what happens when those in the so-called ‘caring professions’ become patients.
Returning to these notes months later, I began to imagine and sketch out ‘scenes’ which formed the basis of the narrative. I always take drafts of stories to my writing workshops – I’m part of two with writers I met on the MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck – and use their feedback to inform the editing process. The story struck a chord in the workshops immediately, described as both ‘painful’ and ‘compelling’. Editing involved much re-shaping and tweaking, improving specificity of detail, pruning back prose to facilitate emotional impact, and paying attention to the balance of humour and darkness. Time management and chronology have always been big challenges for me and much of my editing involves chopping up and moving scenes around.
I worked on the story – alongside other stories-in-progress – for around a year before considering it ready to submit to competitions.
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Unique Angles on The Short Story

Our Award ends on April 11th. In 13 weeks time. Want to write a short story with an unusual angle that stands out from the crowd? Join one of these very affordable short courses at The Crow Collective organised by dynamic writer and story teller, Sage Tyrtle. Continue reading

A new year, a new story?

January is a wonderful month (no it is, really) and one of the best parts is cracking open a brand new notebook and filling it with fresh words. Let’s not call them resolutions (not a fan, they can so quickly turn to disappointments and we use them against ourselves) but rather hopes and dreams; let’s take a gentler approach to writing and ourselves as writers (and humans!). Continue reading

Eight short story prompts for the winter solstice

21st December. It’s the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and today there are  just under eight hours of daylight in London
Because most writers love a prompt to get them going here’s a list of prompts, one for each daylight hour. Maybe if you have some time today, see if you can write a rough draft inspired by one of them. Our 2022 Award ends on 11th April, so plenty of time to finish it.

photo by mikka luotio on Unsplash

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BSSA 2021 Anthology Launch

What’s not to like about Bath Short Story Award cup cakes?

A few weeks ago, on December 3rd , we held a party with cakes, wine and guests from all over the world, crammed together in a writerly buzz ─ separate, yet connected, on two full Zoom screens. For the second year running our anthology launch was online but, although nothing beats the quirky conviviality of an evening at Mr B’s (officially one of the world’s best bookshops, according to The Guardian), with Covid still around it wasn’t an option.

Jude welcomed our authors, guests and Norah Perkins, the 2021 judge. Norah, an agent at Curtis Brown, spoke about the quality of the stories on the shortlist and was full of praise for the authors. 2nd Prize winner Stephanie Carty kicked off the readings with a lively extract from Davey, Plastic Jesus and the Holy Spirit, followed by Seattle-based Kristen Loesch (3rd Prize) who read from Important Letters. Further readings were from Lynda Mason’s Highly Commended The Great Pretender, which also won The Acorn Award for an Unpublished Writer of Fiction, The Pheasant by Ruth Bateson which won the Local Prize (sponsored by Mr B’s) and Rosaleen Lynch’s Hail. Continue reading

BSSA 2022 CLOSED.

The ninth Bath Short Story Award is closed

This year, the competition is judged by novelist, short story writer, playwright and writing teacher, Paul McVeigh who has judged many short story awards. Read our interview with him to find out more about him and what he looks for in a short story.
The longlist and shortlist for the 2022 Award is likely to be announced in July 2022 and the winners by August 2022.

Prizes as follows:
£1200, first prize
£300, second prize
£100, third prize
£100, the Acorn Award for an unpublished writer of fiction.
£50 in book vouchers for the local prize, donated by Mr B’s Emporium of Books, Bath.

If you would like to read the marvellous winning, commended and shortlisted stories from 2021, the 2021 BSSA Anthology is now available from our publisher, Ad Hoc Fiction and from Amazon in paperback. The kindle ebook is also available from Amazon

Interview with Paul McVeigh, BSSA 2022 Judge

photo of Paul McVeigh by John Minihan

What a pleasure and absolute thrill it is to welcome Paul McVeigh as our 2022 judge. Jude and I first met Paul at the London Short Story Festival which he co-founded and ran. For many years he has been a significant presence on the international literary scene, having made his mark as a playwright, blogger, teacher, interviewer, festival director and acclaimed author. His debut novel The Good Son captured the heartbreak of ‘The Troubles’ with dark humour and poignance, as seen through the eyes of young Mickey Donnelly. It was an instant hit. Widely reviewed and translated, it was nominated for many awards and won The Polari First Novel Prize and The McCrea Literary Award. It was also chosen as Brighton’s City Reads 2016 and given out as part of World Book Night 2017. Paul’s short stories have been published in anthologies and literary magazines and broadcast on BBC Radio 3,4 and 5 and televised on Sky Arts.
He has taught creative writing across the world from Malaysia to Mexico, throughout Europe and in numerous destinations in the UK, including Bath where he ran a highly successful workshop for us a few years ago. Not to be missed is his blog for writers which posts submission opportunities for journals and competition, gets 40,000 hits a month and has had over 2 million visitors. Paul judges international literary prizes and reviews for The Irish Times, where he has also interviewed authors such as George Saunders and Garth Greenwell. The best place to get to know Paul (unless you bump into him in Belfast where he lives now) is via his website You can also find him on Twitter @paul_mc_veigh Continue reading

BSSA 2021 Anthology launch

Friday, December 3rd 2021 – 19:30 pm to 21:30 pm GMT

We’re excited to launch our eighth print anthology, published again by the award-winning indie press,  Ad Hoc Fiction. The 2021 collection from this year’s shortlist is a diverse and eclectic selection of powerful, moving and occasionally humorous stories and you’re invited to join us to hear extracts read by the authors and the BSSA team.  Our 2021 judge Norah Perkins found all the stories ‘spoke eloquently’ and said how difficult it was to choose a winner. She added, ‘The winners of this year’s award all demonstrate radical compassion, diverse perspectives, and truly extraordinary voices – I can’t wait to read what they write next.’ 

Although nothing beats a cosy evening at the wonderful Mr B’s Emporium of Books in Bath, we’re holding this year’s launch on Zoom again, as there are still Covid concerns. Luckily, it means authors can join us from across the world and different time zones. In addition to the readings, there will be breakout groups to chat to other writers and guests and, at the end, a raffle. We’ll also launch next year’s award and reveal the identity of our 2022 judge (it’s someone many of you will know quite well!). Continue reading