In which we share the latest news from The Fiction Desk, including upcoming publications, writing competitions, and other odds and ends.
Monday, 31st July 2017. Comments are closed.
It’s time to announce the winners of this year’s Newcomer Prize for Short Stories.
The standard of entries to our competitions is always high. People send in their best work, and judging the entries is as rewarding as it is challenging. Getting the entries down to a shortlist of ten stories was tricky, and picking two winners nearly impossible. But we’re short story publishers: we’re used to doing the impossible.
And so, here are the winners and shortlist of this year’s prize. First, our shortlist of ten stories. All of the writers below will receive a selection of paperback Fiction Desk anthologies through the post:
- Three More Days by Gayle Andrews
- The Bus Stop by Becky Carnaffin
- Uncle Dougie’s Suitcase by Alastair Chisholm
- The Insurance Policy by Christine Grant
- Not Waving, But… by Maureen Hanrahan
- All Washed Up by Chris Hogben
- The Black Squirrel by Christopher Howard
- Tool by Mac McCaskill
- Recalculating Route by Mat Osman
- Not Like Us by Sherri Turner
And now our two winners:
In second place, with a prize of £250:
- All Washed Up by Chris Hogben
In first place, with a prize of £500:
- Uncle Dougie’s Suitcase by Alastair Chisholm
So congratulations to all of the above, and thank you to everybody who took part in the competition. This year’s winners will be appearing in our twelfth anthology, due early in 2018.
The Newcomer Prize will open again for entries next year, but if you fancy trying your hand at very short stories, our flash fiction competition is open now. You’ll find details of that one over in our submissions section.
Tuesday, 4th July 2017. Comments are closed.
After taking a break for 2016, we’re delighted to announce that our annual Flash Fiction Competition is back for 2017 — and open now for entries!
This year we have a first prize of £300 and two runner-up prizes of £100. The entry fee for one story is £5, or you can enter two stories together for the special rate of £8.
The deadline is midnight (UK time) on Friday, 29th September. For full details, including our online entry form, head over to our submissions section.
Thursday, 30th March 2017. Comments are closed.
Today I’m very pleased to be announcing the winners and shortlist of our 2017 Ghost Story Competition.
Judging this competition is one of the great pleasures of working with The Fiction Desk, and this year’s entries have been very strong indeed, possibly the strongest to date.
As usual we’ll start with the shortlist. All of these authors will receive a three-volume subscription to our anthology series:
- Richard Agemo: The House Friends
- Jacqueline Burgoyne: Borrowed
- Alastair Chisholm: Exhalation
- Amanda Crum: The Body Farm
- Will Dunn: Des Nuits Blanches
- Philippa East: The Archivist
- Randi Berg Ferstad: Benjamin
- Amanda Mason: When the Dark Comes Down
- Henry Peplow: Take Me Home
- Victoria Richards: The Camera
- Darren Todd: What Meets in the Dark and Rain
- Christopher Youds: The Reclaiming
And now the winners:
- In first place (£500 prize): Will Dunn: Des Nuits Blanches
- In second place (£250 prize): Philippa East: The Archivist
- In third place (£100 prize): Richard Agemo: The House Friends
Congratulations to all of the above writers. Again, it’s been a particularly strong year for entries. We’ll be putting the winners of this year’s competition together with the 2016 winners and a selection of other stories in our next anthology, New Ghost Stories III.
The next edition of our ghost story competition will open for entries in November 2017. Keep an eye on the competition page for more details closer to the time.
Wednesday, 23rd November 2016. There are no comments.
It’s time to announce the winner of the Fiction Desk Writer’s Award for our tenth anthology, Separations.
The Writer’s Award is a prize of £100, presented to the author of the best story in each of our anthologies, and voted for by the contributors to that volume. This makes it a genuinely peer-judged prize, and a great way of recognising talent.
Separations featured some tough competition for the award, as it contained some superb work, including two stories by previous winners: S R Mastrantone and Alex Clark. In the end our authors decided that the Writer’s Award should go to Fiction Desk newcomer Hannah Mathewson, for her story ‘Two Pounds, Six Ounces’, which tells of a hospital visitor’s crisis when a power cut knocks out the lights in the building.
Wednesday, 21st September 2016. There are no comments.
Fiction Desk contributor Richard Smyth is in the process of crowdfunding his new novel Quays through publishing platform Unbound. Here he tells us about the novel, and its connections to his Fiction Desk story, Crying Just Like Anybody:
Richard has now added a new reward for supporters on his Unbound page. For £35, pledgers can choose to receive both a signed copy of Quays and a signed paperback of Crying Just Like Anybody. Visit his Unbound page and scroll down for details.
I had this map of Manhattan tacked up over my desk for a couple of years. It shows Manhattan Island in 1916, a century ago, just before the US entered the war. The Battery, on the tip of the island, is at the bottom; 110th street, north of Central Park and south of Harlem, is at the top. In the middle – “way out of the way in midtown”, to be exact – is where I set my story ‘Crying Just Like Anybody’. And it’s where Tom Quays, the hero of my new novel Quays, grew up.
Around here no-one calls anyone by their right name. There’s little Tomas Quis who’s Spanish but he’s called Tom Keys, and there’s my sister Jesca and the boys call her ‘Yes’ and make dirty jokes about it. At the repair shop Mr White is really Mr Weiss and then there’s Si Portman who works for the grocer and wears braces on his legs, and he’s just called Dumdum. Johnny ought to be Gianni really but everyone calls him Johnny. He doesn’t mind.
I’m not sure which Tom Quays – or Tom Keys, or Tomás Quis – came first; I have an idea that the Tom of Quays (then barely even a work in progress) strolled into the New York of ‘Crying Just Like Anybody’, but it could have been the other way around, and in any case these things are seldom clear-cut – all these little worlds bleed into one another.
Why New York? Why midtown Manhattan? Why there, and why then? In one sense, there’s a straightforward answer: books. In my early twenties I was led through urban America by a succession of library paperbacks: Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Henry Roth’s Call It Sleep, Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, and, from after the war, John Dos Passos’s Manhattan Transfer most of all. Non-fiction fleshed out the picture: Luc Sante’s Low Life, Anne Douglas’s Terrible Honesty.
I found that there was room in this world for the stories I wanted to tell. Of course, some of these stories – stories about love, death, war, sex – could have been told in any place at any time, but others played on themes that I picked out most clearly in the madly symphonic Manhattan of the early 20th century. These were stories of immigration and identity, of political radicalism, of literary fame, of escape, ambition and opportunity.The Fiction Desk chose to publish ‘Crying Just Like Anybody’ as the title story in its fourth short-fiction anthology in 2012. It remains one of the stories I’m most proud of; it’s certainly one of the stories I’m most fond of. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these streets: sending Tom Quays stumbling drunk along Broadway, or putting Dorothy Parker on Pearl Street at midnight, or letting Anna Moller look up at the stars from Coenties Slip. I know this place better than anywhere else I’ve never been.
If it’s possible to escape from the places you grew up (and I’m not at all sure that it is) then Tom, in Quays, does escape the crowding alleys of midtown: he goes to war, first of all, and then is plunged into the smoke and glitter of the Jazz Age literary scene. But his past – the grimy Manhattan of ‘Crying Just Like Anybody’ – won’t ever really let him be. He finds its shadows in an upstate mental asylum, in the offices of Metropolitan magazine, in the history of his city, in his own books and stories.
It’s been kind of like that for me. I spent a lot of time in this place – pretty much all of it without leaving my office chair – and it probably won’t ever really let me be, either.
People seemed to connect with ‘Crying Just Like Anybody’, with Anna and Johnny and the sorry-looking Martian they find in midtown Manhattan. I think they’ll connect with Quays, too: I think anyone who ever feels lost in a big city, or who has ever wanted to escape without quite knowing where from or where to, will get along with the novel (as will anyone who wants to read about Damon Runyon reporting from a WW1 shell-hole or a drunk novelist applying Freudian theory to the Dempsey-Tunney fight – it has something for everyone).
The Manhattan of Quays is my Manhattan; Unbound’s crowdfunding model means that it can stay like that, just as I dreamed it up, without creative compromises or focus-grouped revisions, all the way to the bookshop shelf. It’s a terrific place, and it’d be wonderful if you could read the excerpt, pledge to the book, and maybe (cue clink of cocktail shaker, hum of passing El train, opening bars of Rhapsody In Blue) join me there.
Richard Smyth’s prize-winning stories have been published in The Fiction Desk, Structo, The Stinging Fly, Riptide, Minor Literature[s], The Stockholm Review, Foxhole, The Lonely Crowd, Haverthorn, Firewords Quarterly, Vintage Script, The Nightwatchman, Cent and anthologies from Arachne Press and Ink Lines.
His first novel, ‘Wild Ink’, was published in 2014; he also writes for the TLS, The Guardian, The New Statesman and a few others.
You can pledge to buy his new novel ‘Quays’ – and pick up rewards including one-to-one writing mentorship – at: https://unbound.com/books/quays.
Our tenth anthology, titled Separations, is out on September 19th.
Copies will be sent out to subscribers and pre-orderers as soon as they’re back from the printers, usually a few days earlier.
Speaking of which, to pre-order your copy, or to read full details of the new anthology, go over here.
Tuesday, 31st May 2016. Comments are closed.
It’s time to announce the winners of the 2016 Ghost Story Competition.
Since our ghost story competition first launched in 2013, it has become an increasingly important part of our anthology series. As well as providing much of the material for two volumes of ghost stories, it has introduced us (and our readers) to some great new voices in short fiction. Perhaps it has also helped us to find our editorial identity, which might be said to lie somewhere in the curious territory between supernatural fiction and realism. (It might also be said to lie entirely elsewhere, of course: like readers, publishers shouldn’t try to define their tastes too rigidly.)
Today, though, we’re dealing firmly with the supernatural, and we have first, second, and third prizes to be awarded within a shortlist of fifteen stories. The three winners will receive £500, £250, or £100, while all fifteen shortlistees will receive a three-volume subscription to our anthology series.
Let’s start then with the shortlisted stories, whose authors will be receiving our next three anthologies in the mail:
- Sean Baker: Grantchester Meadows in the Summer at Dawn
- Kate van der Borgh: For Those Who Love
- Bethan Hutt: Jack and Me
- Jerry Ibbotson: The Intruder
- Seth Marlin: The Dead Lie Dreaming
- Amanda Mason: Apotropaic
- David McVey: Last Bus to Carnshee
- Karyn Millar: The Key to all Mythologies
- Dan Purdue: A Simple Favour
- Guy Russell: Beneath the Skin
- Andrea Stephenson: The Last Bus Home
- Ailsa Thom: A Rational Explanation
- Josie Turner: 27 Exposures
- Barney Walsh: The Crypt beneath the Library
- David Webb: The Charm
And now the winners:
- In first place (£500 prize): Barney Walsh: The Crypt beneath the Library
- In second place (£250 prize): Jerry Ibbotson: The Intruder
- In third place (£100 prize): Seth Marlin: The Dead Lie Dreaming
Congratulations to all of the above writers. I’ll be getting in touch with you over the next week or so to arrange prizes and discuss publication of the three winning entries, which will appear in our autumn anthology, the third volume in our New Ghost Stories series.
The next edition of our ghost story competition will open for entries on 1st November 2016. Keep an eye on the competition page for more details over the next few months.
Friday, 25th March 2016. There is 1 Comment.
It’s time to present the Fiction Desk Writer’s Award for our latest anthology, Long Grey Beard and Glittering Eye.
If you’re not familiar with the Writer’s Award, this is a a special £100 prize awarded to the best story in each of our anthologies, as judged by our contributors. Each writer with a story in the volume casts two equally weighted votes, which are then totalled up to reveal the winner.
This time, we had two stories tie for the award: Mark Newman’s ‘Before There Were Houses, This Was All Fields’, and Adam Blampied’s ‘The Cobble Boys’. In cases like this, we invite a guest judge to break the tie. As both stories have something to do with our relationship with the built environment, the obvious choice was Alex Clark, whose own story ’The Stamp Works’ won the Writer’s Award for There Was Once a Place.
Here’s what Alex had to say:
“I was gripped by ‘Before There Were Houses…’, and I loved the analogy between the construction of landscape and the construction of the human heart. The writing is multi-layered and packed with elegant metaphors. It’s such an engaging read. In the end, though, I’ve chosen ‘The Cobble Boys’. It’s so assured that I believed completely in its world. It’s vivid, brutal and authentic, and has some important things to say about the weight of history. It’s left a lasting impression on my mind.”
So it’s congratulations to Adam Blampied for winning the Fiction Desk Writer’s Award for his story ‘The Cobble Boys’, and to Mark Newman for giving him such a close race.
Look out for Alex Clark’s new story, ‘Poor Billy’, coming in our next anthology.
It’s time to reveal the winners and shortlist of the 2016 Fiction Desk Newcomer Prize.
This year, there’s a shortlist of twelve stories, including the two winners. All shortlisted writers will receive a year’s subscription to our anthology series, and there’s £500 for the first place, and £250 for the second. Let’s start with the shortlist:
- Positional Asphyxia by Lucy Apps
- The History Lesson by Kate van der Borgh
- Gardening Leave by Dan Brotzel
- Stay by David Frankel
- An Internship by Todd Van Horn
- The Song of Stephen by Frances Knight
- Watching a Girl You Might Have Loved Get Dressed to Work the Bars by Elias Lindert
- Two Pounds, Six Ounces by Hannah Mathewson
- Renaissance Man by James Mitchell
- Memento Mori by Richard Newton
- Splitting Miles by Claire Parkin
- Slice by Imogen West-Knights
And the winners are:
- In first place: Renaissance Man by James Mitchell
- In second place: Splitting Miles by Claire Parkin
Congratulations to all of the above winners, and thank you again to everybody who took part in the competition. I’ll be contacting the winners and shortlistees over the next two weeks to arrange prizes, and the two winning stories will appear in the next Fiction Desk anthology.
The Newcomer Prize will open again for entries towards the end of the year. Our annual ghost story competition is open now, and you’ll find more details of that one here.
Friday, 31st July 2015. There are 2 Comments.
It’s time to announce the winners of our 2015 Flash Fiction Competition.
Once again, the high standard of entries means that we’re announcing a shortlist. All shortlisted authors will receive a three-volume subscription to our anthology series, starting with volume 9 (coming in August).
The three winners will also receive cash prizes, and their stories will appear in an anthology later this year.
Let’s start with the complete shortlist. There are ten stories, presented here in alphabetical order by author:
- The Last Day – S E Craythorne
- Wood – Tracy Fells
- Nuclear Family – Jenny Harding
- Two-Timer – F J Morris
- Five Toes, and So On – Dan Purdue
- The Trouble With Men – Andy Shearer
- Memories – Ian Shine
- Beat the Brainbox – Mike Scott Thomson
- That Buzzing Inside My Head – Ren Watson
- Youth – Liz Xifaras
And now for the winners…
The third prize (£50) goes to:
- Freya Morris, for Two-Timer
The second prize (£100) goes to:
- Mike Scott Thomson, for Beat the Brainbox
And the first prize (£300) goes to:
- Ren Watson, for That Buzzing Inside My Head
Congratulations to all of the authors listed above, and thank you to all of you who took part in our flash fiction competition this year. I’ll be getting in touch in the next couple of weeks to arrange subscriptions and prizes.