It is always a pleasure to read through the stories that so many people decide to send, in the hopes that their little pieces of inspiration will gain the light and recognition that they deserve. The quality of many entries deserved such recognition, though it has to be mentioned the importance of reading the rules for any competition, which sadly some people fell afoul of this year (don’t put your name on every page of an anonymous entry!).
We had stories about every topic going – romance, war, shopping, robots, babies, time travel, chocolate and many more. Entries came from Germany, France, and Spain as well as a good concentration from the south of England. Of course, shortlisters can only go so far, and any love they have for particular favourites in the sifting has to be put aside for the final judge to have her say. We were fortunate this year to have an award winning novelist join us and we respect her final opinions.
Chief Judges Report – Carys Bray
It is not especially hard to decide whether a story is enjoyable and satisfying – as readers, we do this all the time. It is, however, hard to take a group of satisfying and enjoyable stories and pick a winner. I recognise that another judge, on another day, may have looked at these stories and placed them in a different order. The stories below intrigued and surprised me, and I enjoyed reading each of them.
1st Place: Peace and Quiet by Louise Wilford
First place goes to this well-written and intriguing short story that invites an active, interrogative response from the reader and concludes with an enjoyably sinister twist.
2nd Place: The Spae Wife by Julie-Ann Rowell
Second place goes to this evocative, historical short story that makes beautiful use of sensory language and explores themes of prejudice and judgement in an isolated community.
3rd Place: Closer to the Edge by Robert Kibble
Third place goes to this tense short story in which the writer examines the line between cruelty and humour while achieving a satisfying combination of action and introspection.
Highly commended: Equinox by Marianne Whiting
This highly commended historical short story explores themes of shame and sacrifice, reaching a powerful, understated conclusion.
Commended: The Angel and the Bridge by Norman Kitching
This commended story empathetically tackles big themes: guilt, betrayal and the kindness of strangers.
Commended: The Real Fake News by Paul Barnett
Resonant and timely, this commended short story contains some lovely images and has echoes of Orwell’s 1984.