Tag Archives: Samuel Hodder

Judges’ Report, BSSA 2019

Comments from our 2019 BSSA judge, Samuel Hodder from Blake Friedmann literary Agency.

Judging this year’s shortlist has been a joy – the hardest part was to accept that I couldn’t give a ‘Highly Commended’ to more entries. Within the constraints of just a few pages, these stories succeeded in drawing the reader into their worlds and making them care for characters they only had just encountered. So many of the stories were deeply moving or poignant. What struck me most of all was the inventiveness of the stories, whether in their structure, their voices, or in the wonderful range of vivid imagery. A girl suspended in mid-air, survivors healing through song in a candlelit chapel, two streetlamps leaning into each other, in love in the twilight. These were images that remained with me long after reading. Continue reading

Shortlist BSSA 2019

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
Title Author
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
Joyriders Chloe Wilson
Jungle Lucy Emma
Murmuration Christina Sanders
Sadness Bruce meyer
Silver Foil Eleni Polychronakos
The Armchairs Flora Neville
The Stepwell Melody Razak
The Sweet Business Mary Griese

Longlist, Bath Short Story Award 2019

2019 Bath Short Story Award Long List
Title Author
5 Things I Can See Melanie Jones
A Drinker’s Face Karen Jones
A Gap Shaped Like The Missing Caroline Ward Vine
A Little Cloud AJ Black
At The Very Top Of The World Peter Jordan
Beautiful Things Kate Vine
Because We Are Weak KL Jefford
Bellissima Emlyn Williams
Blue Reflective Andrew Bartlett
Boxing Like Butterflies Jan Kaneen
Breast Plucker Tannith Perry
Candie Klosse, Chuckie, Wolf And Me Joyce Wheatley
Circling The Chicken Vijay Khurana
Even The Silence Keren Heenan
Every Ninety Seconds Rupert Dastur
Everybody Wants Baby Girls KL Jefford
Everything But The Squeal Trasie Sands
Exposure Nicola Borasinski
Face It Val Bodurtha
Fish Face LM Black
For A Patient Julie Rea
For Some Time Now Derek Routledge
Goya In The Deaf Man’s House Dan Coxon
Grandmas Perfume Dave Wakely
How Megan Taylor
Hungry Roads Maire Malone
I Just Like Visiting Museums Derek Routledge
I Told You So Tamsin Cottis
In The Name Of Andrew Haysey
Indian Summer Karen Ashe
It’s A Trap Tomas Furby
Joyriders Chloe Wilson
Jungle Lucy Emma
Kirabiti Claire Griffiths
Legacy David Butler
Les Nuits D’été Rebecca May
Limbo Emily Sharma
Meet Me At The Rendezvous Café Elena Stephenson
Mrs Da Costa Takes It For The Team Nicola Catton
Murmuration Christina Sanders
Nevermind Julie Evans
October 1961 Emma Roussel
Of Salt And The Raw Flesh Of Fish L. Van Rensburg
Only Connect Lisa Phillips
Opening Night Katie Young
Picking Through The Bones Clare Howdle
Pockets Lucie McKnight Hardy
Sadness Bruce Meyer
Said The Monster Rob Johnston
Salacia Fiona Sherlock
Saver Girl Guy Mitchell
Secrets Mona Dash
Side Order Alec Hutchinson
Silent Witness Graham Sillett
Silver Foil Eleni Polychronakos
Slip In Time Natalie Smith
Snowdrops Cathy Lennon
Strawberry Picking Stephen Gibbin
The Armchairs Flora Neville
The Barrier Alex Osborne
The Butcher Of Bakewell Rupert Dastur
The Cubby House Terri Armstrong
The Electric Historian Hazel Osmond
The Hunting Of The Masu’wa Sam Derby
The Jaws Of The Wolf Nick Petty
The Jinn Sagnik Datta
The Listening Grandmothers Katie Lawrance
The Orchard Stephen Gibbin
The Priest’s Daughter Jo Tiddy
The Road Trip Anne Manson
The Stepwell Melody Razak
The Sweet Business Mary Griese
The Untelling Of Suzie Mckellar Julie Martis
Tina Jonathan Saint
To The Sea Laura Church
Trust Fall Adam Seccombe
Underneath The Lightning Tree Ray Cluley
Up In The Air – A Story Of Snot And Grazed Knees Benny Allen
Water And Oil Anneliese Schultz
What Next Jenny Firth Cozens

What could you write about for BSSA 2019?

Bath Short Story Award team member, Jude, who also organises Bath Flash Fiction Award and Flash Fiction Festivals UK, recently asked the judge of the latest Bath Flash Award, Christopher Allen, who co-edits the long-established flash fiction magazine, Smokelong Quarterly, what themes were under-represented among the hundreds of submissions they receive each week. He chose to answer this by citing themes that are over-represented. These included End-Of-The-World stories, animal metaphors and stories about the death of children. In our Award, we certainly receive a lot those themes and we’d add to that the very many stories about relationship break-ups and dementia. As Christopher says, humour is often under-represented. And we agree it’s amazing to read a story that can combine humour with poignancy. Continue reading

Bath Short Story Award 2018 Anthology Launch

On 5th December, Jude, Jane and Anna from the BSSA team welcomed six authors and over forty guests to Mr B’s Emporium of Books, Bath for the launch of the 2018 anthology of stories from the Bath Short Story Award. This is the sixth anthology we have published, this time, with our new publisher, Ad Hoc Fiction, who also publishes the anthologies for Bath Flash Fiction Award. For the cover design, we’re very pleased to be able to continue using the beautiful collage painting of a building in The Circus Bath, made by artist and writer Elinor Nash who has designed all our book covers since she won the BSSA Award in 2014. This year, the book cover has a background colour which we call ‘sunrise pink’. For the launch, we bought a cake printed with this design and Elinor said it was a first to see one of her designs in icing.

    Our six authors with stories in the anthology, who travelled from all over the UK to be with us, were Hilary Taylor, who won third prize with her short story, Sea Defences, Chloe Turner, who won the local prize with Witches Sail in Eggshells, Sandra Marslund, commended for The Other Couple, James Mitchell shortlisted for Pairing, Tamara Pollock shortlisted with The Plates of Strangers and Caroline Ward-Vine shortlisted for Unravelling. You can read these and the rest of the twenty marvellous stories in the anthology which is available from the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop in several different currencies for posting worldwide and also on Kindle and Nook. Local readers can also buy the book at Mr B’s.

Interview with Samuel Hodder, 2019 Judge

We’re delighted that literary agent with Blake Friedmann, Samuel Hodder, has agreed to be our judge for the Bath Short Story Award 2019. Samuel graduated in Psychology from University of Warwick, and completed a Masters in Publishing, before working for several years as an editor for psychology research. In 2015 he joined Blake Friedmann in the Contracts and Finance departments and is building his own list of authors.

In literary and contemporary fiction he loves distinctive voices and complex characters (e.g. Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh), coming-of-age novels, LGBTQI themes, and novels that explore the loss of innocence, desire, deceit, class, or the world of work. In historical fiction, novels so immersive they can show readers a different way of thinking and being: Mary Renault’s novels are favourites. In crime and thrillers, he loves an unusual, evocative setting (e.g. The Axeman’s Jazz by Ray Celestin), but would like to read anything from psychological suspense to the truly macabre.

He also welcomes dystopian and speculative fiction, including fantasy, science-fiction, and the supernatural, where he would like to see novels centred on the characters’ psychological journeys (e.g. the Earthsea novels by Ursula K Le Guin, The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer, or The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley), but he likes huge, world-building novels too (e.g. Consider Phlebas by Iain M Banks or Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky).

Interview

  • You are currently building your author list at Blake Friedmann and you are looking for a wide variety of fiction, including coming-of -age novels, LGBTQI themes – novels that can immerse readers into a different way of thinking with unusual and evocative settings. I imagine this is what you might be looking for in short story entries as well?
    Yes, in short! Stories in all genres – contemporary, historical, a thriller, even SFF – and all settings in time and place will be welcome by me. I am passionate about LGBT fiction, so a story with LGBT themes or characters would be very exciting. I recognise that a richly evocative setting is hard to accomplish within 2,200 words, but if you are able to transport me to another world within these constraints, I’ll be hugely impressed.
  • Your background is in psychology, and you are also interested in dystopian and speculative fiction including fantasy and science fiction, novels centred on characters’ psychological journeys. Can you say a little more about this?

I think that what drew me into psychology – first at university and then as an editor for psychology research – was the same instinct that later drew me back to literature: a desire to learn more about myself and others, to understand life better, ultimately to seek comfort on this rollercoaster ride that is “the human condition.” The openness of science-fiction and fantasy, where the only limit to the story and its world is the author’s imagination, can be a wonderful space to take the reader on unique psychological journeys. I think this is part of Tolkien’s huge and enduring appeal, and I’m an enormous fan of Ursula K Le Guin’s Earthsea novels (which draw on Taoist philosophy, as Ged journeys towards a Taoist way of life) and the chilling, weird, uncanny Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer.

  • Do you see a future in the world of digital publishing at the moment, or do you think hard copy books are still the favoured way into publishing?
    Certainly there is a future in the world of digital publishing. A few years ago, many commentators predicted that the rise ebooks would marginalise print books. It’s now clear that isn’t happening – ebooks have actually lost a little market share, as sales of print books have risen. However, ebooks remain very important, and publishing is now firmly a multi-format venture, with print books, ebooks and audio books all reaching large numbers of readers and providing crucial income to authors. Some ‘digital first’ publishers are doing great work right now – especially in commercial fiction – in reaching new readers and bringing new life to backlist titles. At Blake Friedmann we’ve seen books first published 30 years ago soar up the bestseller charts this year after being republished as ebooks and brought to a new generation of readers.
  • At the moment, as well as novels and non-fiction, would you accept submissions of short story collections, stories in a linked sequence, or novellas, which seem to be becoming more popular?
    Yes to all the above. It isn’t easy to convince a publisher to invest in a short story collection by a debut author, but it can be done – if the writing is outstanding – and many publishers are providing more space to short story collections today than just a few years ago. So please do submit them to me. Some of my favourite books of all time are novellas – from Death in Venice to Heart of Darkness to The Metamorphosis – so I welcome novellas as well. Booksellers have given more space to these lately, and publishers have produced innovative series in both short fiction and non-fiction. I love the Vintage Minis series by Penguin Books, to give one example.
  • Which short story writers do you particularly like?
    Any list of my all-time favourites must include Shirley Jackson. I adore her gloriously unsettling short stories, her gift for rendering the everyday sinister or uncanny. Start with the Dark Tales collection, if you’ve not read her before. Another favourite short story writer is John Cheever. I admire the pathos of his clever, quietly tragic stories, which are immediately transporting to the particular world of American post-war suburbia, yet still speak movingly today to readers who have never known it. Among contemporary writers, I loved Kevin Barry’s collection Dark Lies the Island – his linguistic agility, comedic timing, and startling voices, the alternating shades of levity and darkness. Ottessa Moshfegh is another favourite, the stories in Homesick for Another World are incredibly confident and controlled, her characters so often appalling but at the same time irresistible.
  • What would be the ingredients of a stand-out short story entry for you?

I enjoy tension in short stories and being unnerved. I love a sharply distinctive voice and characters that are badly behaved and not sorry for it. My taste in humour can be jet-black. But I’m prepared to be completely surprised, and to fall in love with a story that is completely different to my usual tastes – even something gentle or romantic!