Welcome to The Short Story competition!

A huge thank you, as ever, to all the contributors to The Short Story competition in 2017. Your stories, covering emails and support help keep this competition (and me) going each year. From 2017, there are only two prizes awarded: first prize of £500 and second prize of £100. Congratulations to the winning authors, and their excellent short stories. We also had three very strong honourable mentions and the results can be found below.

FIRST PRIZE: Johnny_Cash’s_Girl by Xanthi Barker (UK)

SECOND PRIZE: The_Griffin by Ruby Soames (UK)

Honourable mentions:

  • Gin – Anonymous
  • Lone Star – Christopher Raymond (UK)
  • Tambourine Dream – Nasser Hashmi (UK)

My thanks also go to my amazing readers: Ed Dadswell, Katherine Haw and Mila Steele. One of my favourite evenings of the year is when I get their comments back on the longlisted stories. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don’t, but their insights are always incredibly incisive and hugely enjoyable to read.

Below are the reasons why I chose this year’s winning stories. Like last year, I did not set a theme, but it seems that smart children and their less-than-smart parents have a common thread.

Spoiler alert: read the stories first as I tend to give a few things away in my comments.

Johnny Cash’s Girl – First Prize

I felt trapped in this family hell where dinners go on forever, punishments are meted out and children react against an adult world where decisions are made for them. It delicately traces the complexity of a blended family, with dialogue and action just pitch perfect. The arc is so real and the final line just heart-breaking. To me, it was an ordinary story raised to an extraordinary level. Well done!

The Griffin – Second Prize

It is a rich, colourful portrayal of how the other side live and how the other side royally fuck up their entitled lives. It was so detailed with the litany of nannies and au pairs passing through the children’s lives, often via their father’s bed, only marked by the nicknames Marlena and Hugo give them. When Marlena finally discovers the reason behind her mother’s disappearance, it is a subtle yet disturbing reminder of the impact of irresponsible parents, domestic abuse and utter selfishness. How anyone survives such an upbringing is just astonishing.

Shortlist 2017

The shortlist for The Short Story competition 2017 is now complete. Please find the titles listed below. Winners will be announced in December. Congratulations to everyone on this list and to all the contributors this year.

  • Gin – Anonymous
  • Johnny Cash’s Girl – Xanthi Barker (UK)
  • Lone Star – Christopher Raymond (UK)
  • Tambourine Dream – Nasser Hashmi (UK)
  • The Griffin – Ruby Soames (UK)

Longlist 2017

Please find below the longlist for 2017. Like last year, I got it down to 16 stories, but it’s not an easy task with such high quality stories submitted.

  • Arkady’s Fox – Michael Bird (Romania)
  • Catching the Light – Michael W. Thomas (UK)
  • Cherry Picker – Bee Sims (Sweden)
  • Country Cut – R.S.W de Vox (UK)
  • Flight of a Nobody – Wen Xie (USA/China)
  • Gin – Anonymous
  • Johnny Cash’s Girl – Xanthi Barker (UK)
  • Lone Star – Christopher Raymond (UK)
  • Lyrics from the Film, Drive – Chris Connolly (USA)
  • Please, Not To Be A Tree – Douglas Bruton (UK)
  • Taking Wing – Dan Micklethwaite (UK)
  • Tambourine Dream – Nasser Hasmi (UK)
  • The Anthony Phase – Yvonne Walus (UK)
  • The Daughter of Memory – Victoria Hunter (UK)
  • The Griffin – Ruby Soames (UK)
  • These Fountains Shed Red Ink – Conor O’Sullivan (UK)

Background to The Short Story competition

Set up in 2011, The Short Story competition showcases the best short stories from around the world. Two cash prizes are awarded:

First prize: £500

Second prize: £100

The 2017 winners are now freely available at the links above, and may also be included in a future anthology. See Past Winners for previous prize-winning stories, including two Costa Short Story Award winners.

Here is a picture of the last two anthologies, published in 2014 and 2017, respectively. Best of the Short Story: Volume 2 is available on Amazon.  Thank you!

Best of The Short Story anthologies