Thank you very much to everyone who entered the 2020 Bath Short Story Award.
The stress and pressure of this year does, in so many ways, make writing more difficult and our eighth Award closed at the end of April at the height of the pandemic. So it is both astonishing and wonderful that we received 1531 entries from around the world, the majority from the UK but we also received submissions from the USA, Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland, Germany, India, Egypt, Singapore and France. Continue reading
Many congratulations to all the writers shortlisted in BSSA 2020. All these marvellous stories will be published in our 2020 BSSA anthology out in November. Read our shortlist judge, Kate Johnson’s comments on the shortlist, on our Judges’ Comments post.Elizabeth Allen, who wrote Little penguins are the smallest penguin species in the world is a poet and short story writer based in Sydney where she also works as a bookseller at Gleebooks. Her work has found frequent publication in well-respected journals and anthologies both in Australia and overseas,including Cordite, Ajar, Bodega, Overland, Southerly,Meanjin, Australian Book Review, and SAND. The author of two poetry collections, Body Language (Vagabond Press, 2012)and Present (Vagabond Press, 2017), Elizabeth won the Dame Leonie Kramer prize in 2001 and the Anne elder Award in 2012. L.M Brown who wrote The Memory of Dolls is the author of the novel Debris and collections Were We Awake and Treading the Uneven Road. Her novel Hinterland is forthcoming (2020). Her stories have been nominated for the Pushcart prize and have been published in over a dozen literary magazines, such as The Chiron Review, Eclectica, Litro, Fiction Southeast, Toasted Cheese Her fiction has also won the Press 53-word contest, the Nevermore Flash Fiction contest and has been a finalist for the SmokeLong Quarterly Flash Fiction Award. She grew up in Ireland, but now lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three daughters. Continue reading
Just four weeks to go until our 2020 Award closes on Monday, April 20th. Now spring has come and the sun is out, perhaps it is possible to relax a bit in these current very stressful times, and write or edit a story. There’s still time. A way to find out if your own story works is, of course, to read other short stories. One place to begin is with our own anthologies and collections by writers who have won prizes with us.
Chloe Turner won the local BSSA prize in both 2017 and 2018 with her stories, ‘Breaking the Glassblower’s Heart’ and ‘Witches Sail in Eggshells’. Her short story collection also titled Witches Sail in Eggshells was published by Reflex Press in 2019.
KM Elkes won the local BSSA prize in 2015 with his story ‘Three Kings’ and was shortlisted in 2014 with his story ‘Greta Garbo and the Chrysanthenmum Man’, published in the anthology Bath Short Story Award, Vol 3. Ken also writes very short fiction and his acclaimed collection of flash fiction, All That Is Between Us was published by Ad Hoc Fiction in June 2019.
Both these books are great reads as are our BSSA anthologies. You can buy the 2019 and 2018 anthologies from our publisher, Ad Hoc Fiction’s online bookshop and via Amazon in ebook form on Kindle. And you can buy anthologies from previous years from this website at bargain prices.
And if you want to support us, our writers and our publisher, you might like to vote for them in the Saboteur Awards. Public voting for the longlists is open in several different categories until April 6th. Both Ken and Chloe qualify for the best short story collection category, so you will have to choose one of them! The 2019 BSSA anthology qualifies for the best anthology category and our publisher Ad Hoc Fiction qualifies for the most innovative publisher category. Voting closes on April 6th and we’ve linked the voting form here.. We would love your support and so would these writers. We all need a boost at the moment.
Last year’s judge, Samuel Hodder said this about Caroline’s winning story ‘A Gap Shaped Like the Missing’:
“A wonderfully vivid and arresting story of community, trauma and healing that seizes the reader’s attention from its opening lines and doesn’t let go. Lucy Mae’s voice is brilliantly achieved – lyrical but direct, wry but warm, full of life as well as loss – and the story builds a powerful sense of both character and place. The writing is gorgeous, rich with allusion, full of striking imagery and metaphor, with beautiful turns of phrase on every page. It reminded me of the very best of dystopian fiction but is all the more affecting since it is about our own time.”
In our interview Caroline tells us how the story came into being and more about her other successes and writing process.
- Can you tell us how your marvellous winning story ‘A Gap Shaped Like The Missing’ came into being? And how did you arrive at the title?
It began as a fragment of description, written a few months after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. At the time, I sang with a community gospel choir; everyone had their place to stand, according to the part they sang. I was thinking about music in the aftermath of disaster and had the idea of a choir, gaps yawning in the rows where people had been lost. The image haunted me, but it took ten years to discover the story it was meant to be. Bizarrely, I struggled to find the right title; I tried several. It was only as I was giving the story a last read-through before submitting that the words jumped out at me from the text. I had described ‘gaps, shaped like the missing’ in the fragment I had first written. I now can’t imagine the story being called anything else.
- In 2018, you also won the Costa Short Story prize and were shortlisted for other major prizes. What is it that you most enjoy about writing short stores?
I love the precision of the short story: its clean lines. The way in which a single phrase or image can capture a whole world. I have a natural tendency to waffle and always have to edit massively, so when I manage to chip away all that’s unnecessary and reveal that gem of simplicity, it gives me real joy. Short stories are also a wonderful way for a writer to try walking in the shoes of others; to inhabit worlds, points of view that might be difficult to sustain across a novel
- Our judge Samuel Hodder said your character, ‘Lucy Mae’s voice is brilliantly achieved – lyrical but direct, wry but warm, full of life as well as loss – and the story builds a powerful sense of both character and place.’ Do you think creating a strong voice and sense of place is a characteristic of your writing style?
I think perhaps it is. Voice, certainly. Until that’s right, for me the story isn’t, and it’s often a strong voice that inspires the story itself. The point about place is interesting. I rarely describe characters in great detail, or even have more than a vague sense myself of what they look like, which probably flies in the face of most ‘how to write character’ tutorials. But I know exactly what space they occupy; what they see, even if the location is anonymous and less intrinsic to the story than in A Gap Shaped Like the Missing. So that may be right!
- I know you are also writing a novel. Can you tell us how that is progressing and what it is about? (If that’s not under wraps).
I’ve just finished the first draft. True to form, I’ve written long and now have tens of thousands of words to cut, but there I’m back in familiar territory. I’d rather not say too much about it at this early stage, but it has dual narratives, one in contemporary London, the other set in the Second World War, in the Far East.
- Any other writing projects on the go this year?
- I’m planning a novel woven from interlinked short stories, set in a seaside town. There will no doubt be other short stories, as and when inspiration hits.
- There are still three months before the 2020 BSSA Award closes in mid April. What advice would you give a prospective entrant at this stage?
First of all, start soon if you can. In my experience, the more time you can give a new story to settle, the better. As you live with it, what is important and what less so becomes clear. You can play with the dials: turn up the volume here, tone down the jarring, cut the superfluous. If, like me, you naturally write longer than the 2200 limit, why not try a ruthless edit of that 3-4000 word story? You may just find the lean, pared-down core is a thing of beauty.
Above all, be brave, go for it, and good luck!
Q & A with BSSA team member, Jude, January, 2020.
The BSSA organisers Anna Schlesinger, Jane Riekemann and Jude Higgins were delighted to launch BSSA 2019, last night, 18th November at the wonderful Mr B’s Emporium of Books, Bath. Nine of the twenty writers published in the anthology were able to come and read extracts from their stories to a large crowd of guests. It was wonderful to hear the story extracts come to life in the voice of the writers. For the first time, authors of the first, second and third prize stories were able to attend as well as the winner of the Acorn Award for an unpublished writer of fiction and those four writers as well as the five other shortlisted writers travelled from all over the UK to be with us. You can buy your copy from our publisher Ad Hoc Fiction and if you are in Bath, at Mr B’s.
Our seventh yearly international Short Story Award closed on April 20th 2020. The longlist is now announced and the shortlist will be posted on Tuesday 14th July. Our judge this year is literary agent Kate Johnson from Mackenzie Wolf Literary Agency She will choose the three winners and commended writers and final results will be out by mid August.
First prize, £1200; second prize, £300; third prize £100.
We have two further prizes, The Acorn Award for a unpublished writer of fiction, £100;
and the local prize, £50 in book tokens from Mr B’s Emporium of Books, Bath.
Many congratulations to everyone who has made the shortlist of BSSA 2019. The twenty shortlisted stories will be published in our 2019 anthology produced by Ad Hoc Fiction and will be out in the late Autumn
|2019 Bath Short Story Award Short List|
|A Drinker’s Face||Karen Jones|
|A Gap Shaped Like The Missing||Caroline Ward Vine|
|At The Very Top Of The World||Peter Jordan|
|Beautiful Things||Kate Vine|
|Breast Plucker||Tannith Perry|
|Circling The Chicken||Vijay Khurana|
|Every Ninety Seconds||Rupert Dastur|
|Fish Face||LM Black|
|For Some Time Now||Derek Routledge|
|Goya In The Deaf Man’s House||Dan Coxon|
|Grandmas Perfume||Dave Wakely|
|Indian Summer||Karen Ashe|
|Silver Foil||Eleni Polychronakos|
|The Armchairs||Flora Neville|
|The Stepwell||Melody Razak|
|The Sweet Business||Mary Griese|
Are you writing a short story for our next award? There are just under five weeks to go until the closing date of 15th April. Sometimes writers entering competitions think that if there is a word limit, they need to write to the absolute maximum word count permitted. For our Award, that’s 2200 words. But you don’t need to write up to this line. There is no lower limit, which means you could write in the short-short form (flash fiction) and still be considered.
Very short stories (500 words or fewer) are few among our submissions and our sister competition Bath Flash Fiction Award is the best place to submit micros (300 words and under) but stories far less than 2200 words have been selected for the BSSA short list and have been published in the winners’ anthology. For example, Ingrid Jendrzejewski’s marvellous story, ‘We Were Curious About Boys’, in the 2016 anthology is around 1500 words. You can buy our 2015, 2016 and 2017 anthologies from this website in hard copy and our 2018 anthology from our publisher’s website to see the variety in the lengths of stories. All the anthologies are available in digital versions from Kindle or Nook. Continue reading