Author Archives: Jude

Interview with Zahid Gamieldien, Second Prize Winner, October 2018 Award

Zahid won second prize with his powerful story The Coast.The October Award judge, Nuala 0'Connor, said this about Zahid's flash fiction:

"A harrowing and moving flash that immerses the reader entirely in the body of the main character, a wonderful feat. The menace and atmosphere of this piece carry it along brilliantly. This writer loves language and consistently reaches high for the perfect word and/or phrase.

Zahid is also a scriptwriter and a short story writer and tells us that attention to language is something he thinks about in every form in which he writes. We're looking forward to reading his forthcoming short story in Platypus Press, a UK based publisher. Zahid, who teaches creative writing in Sydney, also offers online editing and critiquing services on all forms. We greatly value the international reach of the Bath Flash Fiction Awards and how writers allude to world-wide issues in the fictions they submit. In the 2018 anthology which is out at the end of November, there are writers from nine or more countries from around the world, and Zahid is one of six authors in the book living in Australia. It's great that flash writers in another country can easily use his editing services and as well as writing feedback, get a different cultural take on their work Read in Full

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Interview with Fiona J. Mackintosh, First Prize winner, October, 2018

A fascinating interview here with Fiona J. Mackintosh, who won first prize in our October 2018 Award,judged by Nuala 0’Connor for her historical flash fiction Siren. Fiona, who began writing young, as you can see in the picture of her with the type-writer, is a self-confessed research junkie, writes (in her head) in the shower and stresses the importance of researching "the hell out of a competition" before entering it. She also tells us the music she likes to play while writing, where she writes and about the projects she’s currently working on. We’re longing to read more of her writing – more flash, or her short story collection and also her five novel saga that begins in the early part of the twentieth century sounds wonderful. It’s exciting that the first volume of this will be ready for submission in spring 2019. Fiona ends this interview with some great revision tips for micro writers. We love this – "Revision is like playing your scales over and over”. And there are many more excellent nuggets of writing advice. Read on...

  • Can you tell us how your wonderful story Siren came into being?
    Thank you so much for the compliment! As often happens with me, the story started with a single phrase that popped into my head, “She has the juice of silver fishes in her veins.” And then immediately after, I saw the image of the girl putting the cherries over her ear, which we all used to do as kids, right? And (ahem) some of us still do! Then I had to find a way to fill in the middle part of the story, but once I hit on the jealous landlubber admirer, I was off to the races. So the plot fell into place pretty easily; it was the language that took longer to hone.

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Ad Hoc Fiction author, Diane Simmons, on Radio Bristol

We are delighted that our publisher, Ad Hoc Fiction is publishing Diane Simmons' collection, Finding A Way, fifty one linked flash fictions which show one family's grieving journey over the three years following a devastating loss. Diane is widely published in anthologies and magazines and has been successful in many writing competitions. She is a member of the organising team for Flash Fiction Festivals, UK and is also a Co-Director of National Flash Fiction Day, UK. This Thursday, (November 15th) she read A Collection, the first story from her forthcoming book, on BBC Upload, the fantastic new evening magazine programme dedicated to showcasing local artists and writers, at Radio Bristol. Click here to listen. She comes in about 1.34 mins into the programme.

Radio Bristol have created a brilliantly simple system in Upload. All you need is a mobile phone to record and submit your creative works for possible inclusion on their programme which airs weekday evenings, from 7.00 pm to 10.00 pm. Jude was approached by the presenter, the dynamic Adam Crowther, who asked if she could suggest some local flash writers and it seemed a perfect opportunity for Diane to read one of her stories and talk a little about Finding A Way. Do listen. Diane often reads her fictions in the Flash Fiction Evenings Jude organises in Bath and she is pictured here at the Flash Fiction Festival in July, 2018, reading A Picnic in the Park, another story from her forthcoming collection. As always, she reads wonderfully here on the radio and in the interview with Adam after the reading, she talks more about her new collection and her writing. Do listen. Diane is currently putting the finishing touches to her book, which will be published in January and available for sale at bookshop.adhocfiction.com in several different currencies for world-wide sales. We are really looking forward to seeing it in print. More details soon!

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Meg Pokrass: Writing From the Inside Out

Writer, writing tutor and editor Meg Pokrass is well-known for her amazingly inventive prompts. And she uses them herself in her own writing. This is what she says about it --

When people ask me: how did you do that? How did you incorporate that prompt idea? (as though it is a magic trick) this is what I almost always wish to say:
The writer works from the inside out. They live with a feeling, such as loss, for example the loss of love (my favorite) and they use the prompt as a way to explore the feeling in new ways, to "process" it (if we're being new-agey about it). There is no "trick" it is just letting oneself see your own life differently by using different filters, or metaphors, or situations, and letting oneself feel sad once again, which admittedly sucks (when writing hard stuff, feeling the loss again by looking directly at it). But on the bright side, to express it in some creative way, can create a huge sense of relief.

For November Meg is posting a prompt a day based on her wonderful collection Alligators at Night, which was published this July by Ad Hoc Fiction and which is available from the Ad Hoc Fiction Bookshop. Meg is posting extracts or full stories from the collection and giving you ideas to inspire a story. A great way to write in inventive ways, build up a sequence of fictions and to whet your appetite to read the whole collection. Hop over to her website to take a look. Her illustrative pictures are prompts in themselves.
And just for an added bonus, here's Meg reading the title story from 'Alligators at Night', a flash that was chosen as one of Wigleaf magazine's list of top 50 stories in 2018.

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Interview with Vanessa Gebbie
Flash Fiction Award Judge
November 2018 – February 2019

Vanessa has won multiple awards for both prose and poetry, including a Bridport Prize and the Troubadour. Her flash publications include Ed’s Wife and Other Creatures (Liquorice Fish Books) and the weird/irreal collection Nothing to Worry About (Flash: The International Short Short Story Press at Chester University) as well as many individual publications online and in print. She is author of three short story collections (with Salt and Cultured Llama), a novel (Bloomsbury), and two poetry publications (Pighog and Cultured Llama). She is also commissioning and contributing editor of Short Circuit, Guide to the Art of the Short Story (Salt). She teaches widely www.vanessagebbie.com.
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Award Round Up October 2018

This was our tenth award and we thank everyone who entered. Nine hundred and thirty four fictions from thirty-two different countries:

Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

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October 2018 Judge’s Report
Nuala O’Connor

It’s always a privilege to judge a literary competition, as judge you’re seeing what’s white hot, what writers are writing about now and the way they’re writing about those things. If the long list is representative, popular occupations in 2018 include predatory stepfathers, lost love, childhood traumas, and more benign childhood memories featuring, particularly, the smells of youth. War and dead babies feature too, as they usually do in story competitions. A lot of stories were written in the second person, a POV I have a strong attachment to. Second person alone, though, is not enough to carry a piece if there aren’t several other things going on, in terms of language and story.
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Fiona J. Mackintosh
October 2018 First Prize

Siren

by Fiona J. Mackintosh

In the wet slap of the haar, the lassies slit the herring mouth to tail and pack them into briny barrels. I see her head move among the rest, brown curls escaping from her shawl. She has the juice of silver fishes in her veins - it’s in the raised blue of her wrists, her raw fingers, in the taste of oysters when I lick her down below, her skirt canted up and knees apart.

They say despair can be a man’s making, but that’s not how it feels to me. I give her everything I have - primrose plants, stockings, greenhouse fruits – and everything I am, a stiff-collared man behind a counter at the bank. She says my palms smell of money and loves their smoothness on her skin, but then she sees the brown sails coming, the lads home from the draves, swaggering in their thigh-high boots. She rests her elbows on the bar, pink mouth open, as this one tells of breaching humpbacks and that one tells of waves the height of mountains. I loathe their muckled arms and sunburnt faces and wish them at the bottom of the sea.

She knows the only times I venture out are on the calmest days, sometimes to cast a line and once a year to watch the puffins hatch. It’s not an epic life, not one likely to inspire the poets. But when the Reaper goes down with all hands lost, it’s my door she comes to and cleaves herself to me from head to heel. She says, “I need a man who willnae leave me wantin’.” Afterwards, cross-legged on the bed, she hangs a pair of cherries over her ear and, giddy with my unexpected luck, I take them in my mouth, stones and all.

About the Author

Fiona J. Mackintosh is a Scottish-American writer living near Washington D.C. whose fiction has been published on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2018, she has won the Fish Flash Fiction Prize, the NFFD Micro Competition, and the Bath Flash Award and was runner-up in Reflex Fiction’s summer contest and Retreat West’s quarterly themed competition. Her flashes have been nominated for The Best Small Fictions and Best Microfiction, and her short stories have been listed for the Bristol, Galley Beggar, and Exeter Short Story Prizes. She was honored to receive a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist’s Award in 2016.

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Zahid Gamieldien
October 2018 Second Prize

The Coast

by Zahid Gamieldien

Bita, drenched, shaking—her bones are shortbreads soaked in mother’s milk, her knuckles white, red, gripping, numb. She’s crouched against the gunwale of a boat that’s not much more than a skiff.

A wave whumps her crown, skittles those on deck. Recovering, they shuffle crab-like in their orange vests and latch onto whatever they can.

Brine is in her eyes. She can't tell what comes from her and what from the ocean, and she's forgotten about the child. But he's there, in a pink life vest, chapped lips near her belly, too old to be wet-nursed.

Three weeks ago, she was nursing her own baby when a soldier with a port-wine stain on his brow snatched him from her nipple. Spiked him headlong into the ground. Bita’s scream curdled in her throat.

Her chest still heavy with unsuckled grief, she hears the child whimper. For an instant, she can see the coast. Then she can't. The sea climbs, forms a snow-globe around them. They're encased—a fossilized moment.

Now she's under; everyone's under. In her ears, a roar, the memory of shelling. Around her, tumbling limbs, snatches of color, costumes of skin.

Motes of air drift upward. Twisting, trying to follow, she feels a hand snatch at her ankle. She kicks, kicks, kicks, connects with a face, and she glides, seeking the surface.

It doesn't arrive. Seawater slushes down her gullet. Suddenly there's wind cutting up her trachea. She wheezes and her lungs expand.

In the distance, a shock of pink. Her arms flail, shovel water, will her toward it. When she reaches it, it's just the child's life vest, empty. She holds it to her cheek. The tide ebbs and swells, hoists her toward the sky.

Beyond the tumult, she can finally see the coast for what it is.

About the Author

Zahid Gamieldien is an Australian author, screenwriter and editor. You can find him at zahidgamieldien.com.

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Emma Neale
October 2018 Third Prize

The Local Pool

by Emma Neale

Turn a corner, into air tangy with chlorine. The smell removes memory’s stopper and an anxious genie swims out. What about the turquoise of a small town pool? What about concrete, dark with Rorschach marks that wet bodies left behind after boys egged on and watched?

Police, phoned by a passerby: the next day, when their own girls cried, ‘See ya!’ over pop-radio falsetto, did the cops saloon-door from their bathrooms, half-Santaed with soap, then gruff up quick hugs, foam-chins hooked over their daughters’ shoulders, to hide fuel-lines of dread in their eyes?

The mothers of the pool-girl’s friends: did they slash open packets, shove cupboards shut, slam on about hemlines, and torn black tights peep-showing lucky pennies of skin, because grown women can’t just wish-link pinkies, to ward off a suburb’s sons?

The girl’s friends, asked by social workers to tell when she skipped classes, because she had to get back on track, mustn’t let one summer dusk haunt her with that boy crisping her open, peeling her back like the winding-key on a tin of imported sweets — did those friends stop reporting because tears skirred free as she begged please don’t? Or because they learned she’d agreed to meet the boy again, at a bus shelter’s cold bunker, and the red folded mystery of how a wound could drag her back to its own start was too confusing? As disorienting as the acrid smoke they heard about later, when a schoolbag, schoolbooks, stockings, wasp-striped school tie, were soaked in art-room turps and set alight, as

a girl prayed for flames to leap a pine plantation’s firebreak, hive for the new subdivision and one blue house, its yard junked with bikes and a boy’s outgrown clobber, slung into trash bags slumped limp as drunks.

About the Author

Emma Neale’s most recent novel, Billy Bird (2016) was short-listed in the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards and long-listed for the International Dublin Literary Award 2018. A new poetry collection, To the Occupant, is due out from Otago University Press in 2019. She lives in Dunedin with her husband and their two children, and is the current editor of Landfall, Aotearoa-New Zealand’s longest-running journal of arts and letters.

photo credit © Jim Tannock

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