Author Archives: Jude

Stephanie Carty June 2020 Commended

The Price of Gingerbread

by Stephanie Carty

My brother Hansel went missing. Father frowned into whisky. His wife rubbed kohl down her cheeks before posting selfies on Facebook.

Hansel said he’d spied a shack with walls made from bottles of cherry vodka in the marshlands. He liked to get high on hope. He’d have made a great spaniel, yapping about on the daily walk as if it might be different one time, as if paths weren’t already mapped out to always end in the same place.

But a twin is only a twin with a twin.

Through the squelch of mud, I tracked his route. The shack was set back in some trees. Columns of cigarette packets created beams to hold the structure upright. I could have sprinkled those white sticks along the path I’d walked but what was the point when nobody would search for us? Glass bottles arched across the roof. Leeching out of the place was a scent far heavier than father’s shirts, woody and dark. I sniffed until the sky spun.

Lights blinked around the door in green and red. I dug my fingers into a crevice to ease out a mobile phone but didn’t know the passcode.

After that, it’s hazy. Hansel and I were back together yet hardly there at all. There were fiery drinks poured straight from the rafters, sherbet to rub on our gums, pastilles that turned day to night. We giggled like the toddlers we’d been before father’s eyes were glazed by grief.

We’re not alone here but let’s not spoil the tale. Let’s not sour the sweet with flashbacks. None of it matters: the strangers, the pressing, the pain. We have the house and the house has us.

My brother reaches out to squeeze my hand. Then we turn to the walls and gorge ourselves.

About the Author

Stephanie Carty is a writer, trainer and NHS consultant clinical psychologist in Staffordshire, UK. Her debut novella Three Sisters of Stone was published May 2018 with Ellipsis Zine and won Best Novella in the Saboteur Awards 2019. Her fiction has been shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Award, Aesthetica Creative Writing Award and the Bridport Prize. She was a winner in Bath Flash Fiction Award, June, 2019. She writes psychological thrillers and is represented by Sheila Crowley at Curtis Brown.

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Interview with Michelle Elvy, Judge Novella-in-Flash Award 2021

    We thrilled Michelle has agreed to judge the 2021 Novella-in-Flash Award, which will be open for entries shortly and will close in mid January, 2021. Results out April, 2021 Read Jude's interview with her below if you want to write a novella in the next six months for our Award. Michelle has many interesting things to say about the form and the process of writing a novella-in-flash.

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Pre-order ‘This Alone Could Save Us’ by Santino Prinzi

We're thrilled that Ad Hoc Fiction, our small press is publishing Santino Prinzi's wonderful new collection. This Alone Could Save Us. The collection was due to be launched at our cancelled 2020 Flash Fiction Festival UK.

Available here now.

Read what writers say about it here:

With This Alone Could Save Us, Santino Prinzi has fashioned a collection of small, smart fictions that read large. Here is work undergirded by innovation, incisive wit, and a keen ability to navigate terrain that is personal, and at once universal to us all.’

–– Robert Scotellaro, author of Nothing Is Ever One Thing

‘Santino Prinzi is a word-wizard of the heart—a writer who fearlessly excavates uncomfortable secrets. In This Alone Could Save Us, Prinzi's first full collection of flash fiction, human nature is the subject, gentle surrealism the medium. Bizarre yet real, funny and crazily sad—it's mesmerizing to watch Prinzi's vulnerable characters work to free themselves from life's stickiest webs. Subversive, haunting, beautiful—a must-have collection!’

–– Meg Pokrass, author of Alligators At Night and Series Co-Editor, Best Microfiction 2020

'This Alone Could Save Us is a richly varied collection of flash fiction. In these compact gems, Santino Prinzi makes exquisite use of magic and the surreal, but also the quiet, evocative gestures of ordinary life. You will find the deliciously unexpected within these pages, along with moments of breath-taking stillness. Highly recommended.’

–– Kathy Fish, Wild Life: Collected Works from 2003-2018

‘Tender, poetic, and wonderfully surreal, Prinzi understands that stories can save us. Powerful flash fiction that lights up the page, this is the book we all need right now. It is one for the ages. This stunning collection will stay with you for years.’ 

–– Angela Readman, author of Something Like Breathing and Don’t Try This At Home

‘In This Alone Could Save Us, Santino Prinzi demonstrates his enormous talent for drawing readers into his stories, often surprising them with surrealistic touches that appear totally believable and natural. The flash fictions in this impressive collection are widely varied, but each story is unmistakably Prinzi.’

–– Diane Simmons, author of Finding a Way

‘Exceptionally engaging, closely observed and thought-provoking, this collection shows us a flash master at work as he explores the fault lines that crack open under our feet at moments of unplanned change. Seen through his eyes, the familiar becomes strange, solid becomes unsteady, and even the moon loses its faith in humanity, so moves on. Sometimes sad, sometimes playful, always memorable.’ 

–– Vanessa Gebbie, author of The Cowards Tale and five short fiction collections.

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BIFFY50 2019-2020, Nominations

Thanks very much to TSS and this year's editors for again compiling the list of fifty Best British and Irish Flash Fictions (BIFFY50) published online between August 2019 and May 2020. We are very happy at Bath Flash to nominate 'Eight Spare Bullets' by Sharon Telfer which won first prize in the February 2020 round of our Award and Valentine' by Claire Powell, which was highly commended by judge Santino Prinzi. Read his comments on the stories in his judge's report.

Our final story of the three nominations allowed is 'The Wild West' by Francis McCrickard which won second prize in the October 2019 Bath Flash Fiction Award judged by Nancy Stohlman and you can read her comments here.
The authors live in the UK and we think their stories are wonderful examples of flash fiction.
Very best wishes to them all.

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Interview with Simon Cowdroy, Second Prize winner, February 2020 Award

With two weeks to go before the end of our 15th Award on June 7th, here's another fascinating interview in our winners' series, this time from Simon Cowdroy, second prize winning author in our February award judged by Santino Prinzi, to inspire all Last Minute Club writers. You can read Simon's wonderful story 'The Dissolution of Peter McCaffrey' here and it will be published by Ad Hoc Fiction in our end of year anthology along with the other winners, shortlisted and longlisted writers from our 2020 Awards. Simon tells us more about his writing process and his influences which include other writers like Australian Clive James and also the landscape in which he lives, pictured here. We asked him about his striking use of language and think his comment that he strives to use 'imagery derived from finding a powerful and unexpected way to frame the words' is very good advice for others who want to write memorable flash. We also like his other tips at the end of this piece and his suggestion to 'write as if it is your last chance to do so'. It was great to meet Simon at the Flash Fiction Festival last year and hope that when we hold the festival again (fingers crossed for such events), he can come again all the way from Australia, and we can hear him read it. Read in Full

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Interview with Erica Plouffe Lazure, runner-up 2020 Novella-in-Flash Award


Erica Plouffe Lazure was a runner up in the 2020 Bath Novella in Flash Award with her brilliant novella, Sugar Mountain .
You can read Michael Loveday's judge's comments on the novella in his report linked here. And Flash Frontier has posted a video of Erica reading a story from the novella which gives the flavour of the whole story, on the Flash Frontier You tube channel as part of the lead up to National Flash Fiction Day in New Zealand. In this fascinating interview, Erica talks about her writing process and how she finds time to write flash in her busy teaching year. Plus some great tips for those who want to embark on writing a novella-in-flash. We are very much looking forward to seeing Sugar Mountain in print, when it is published by Ad Hoc Fiction later this year. Read in Full

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Interview with Sharon Telfer, first prize winner, February 2020

    It's good to catch up with Sharon Telfer to find out more about 'Eight spare bullets', her second first prize win for Bath Flash Fiction Award, and about her writing in general. The first time Sharon won with another marvellous story, 'Terra Incognita' back in June, 2016, we learned she had been walking in the Welsh mountains and only found out about her success when she got home. This second time, she wasn't checking emails and social media because she was completing a big work project and discovered all the excitement at the end of the day!

    The 15th Bath Flash Fiction Award judged by Mary Jane Holmes ends in three and a half weeks on June 7th. Mary Jane gave some great writing tips in her interview with us and there's more tips from Sharon at the end of this interview and in the quote below, near the beginning. It is a wonderful piece of advice for the current situation we are in, and has a particular reference to Sharon's winning story.

    "...If you’re not writing for whatever reason, don’t force it and don’t despair. Those seeds are lying dormant, just like in the Svalbard vault. Give yourself time and what light and warmth and good soil you can. Germination always happens first unseen and underground.


    Good luck to everyone entering our 15th Award. Results will be out at the end of the June."

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Interview with Tracey Slaughter, Runner-up 2020 Novella in Flash Award

Tracey Slaughter's brilliant novella if there is no shelter was one of two runners-up in the 2020 Novella-in-Flash Award judged by Michael Loveday. You can read Michael's comments on the novella in his judge's report and more about Tracey on our winners' page.
We are asking the same questions of all our winners and commended authors and it is fascinating to read that Tracey's novella was inspired by a list of emergency instructions at work and particularly the one phrase 'if there is no shelter' that ended up being the title of the novella. For those writing novellas, Tracey has the great advice to 'Banish doubt and trust the voices and don’t give up on those beautiful damaged characters'. We are so looking forward to seeing her novella in print. It will be published by Ad Hoc Fiction later this year.

    Interview
  • Can you give us a brief synopsis of your novella in flash?
    if there is no shelter follows a young woman trying to pick up the pieces of home in the aftermath of an earthquake. As we trace the faltering steps she takes to try to restore her life, we discover the wreckage she was already leaving in her wake before the earthquake struck…a lover, a husband, the letter left stranded in a red-zoned building she cannot re-enter.
  • What inspired it?
    A poster pinned over the sink in the tea-room at work, where I found myself blinking, burnt-out between classes, clutching my cup with a thousand-yard stare – a stained & peeling list of emergency instructions that included the heading ‘If there is no shelter.’ That was it: somehow the heroine spoke, & started bringing her fragments to the surface…
  • I am sure readers who are interested in writing in this form would love to know more about your writing process. Did it take some time for you to arrive at the final order for example?

    Although the first pieces of this story arrived in intense, almost instantaneous flashes, conditions of life (which overturned not long after I embarked on writing) left the further construction of the work suspended, sometimes for months at a stretch. The forgiving form of flash (hallelujah!) could cope with the ongoing disruption, & allowed me to focus on each piece I could achieve within my narrow windows. In many ways, it even seemed to echo the chaos surrounding the heroine – I had to scratch for time, pick through scattered pieces, splice a story together from precious remains. In the end, it wasn’t so much order that I knew it needed to witness, as disorder, the truth of fracture – I had to trust that the story should be left to reflect shattering.
  • All this may have changed in the present circumstances, but do you have a special place/time to write where you live? Music on or off? Pets as distractions or muses?

Silence, distance, solace, isolation, refuge from the million other pressing demands of life: I can’t seem to write unless I’m alone with my characters, tuned to their voices, breathing in their fates. I remain in awe of anyone who can tap the keys at a café table – I’ve always been secretly convinced they’re faking it!!! But yes, the present conditions are a taste too much loneliness…& with working online the static has just come home!

  • And following on from the last question, if you like. If you had a soundtrack for your novella, what sort of music would be playing?
    The haunting dissonant industrial poetry of the artist I.E.Crazy – as soon as I heard her twisted original ballads I felt like my book was singing back at me!
    • Pitfalls and pleasures of writing in this form?
      Pleasures: that flash can take you in a rush, plunge you into a character’s senses, keep you fed on bursts of electricity, even when life holds scant time for sustained writing. I thrive on the little fixes it gives, the short stints it lets creativity off the leash, so there’s always a quick source of exhilaration in a schedule that sometimes doesn’t leave much breathing space. And pitfalls: I don’t know if there are any. I find that flash is the central atom of the short story mode, so it’s never wasted, whether the piece stays distilled in a single flash or keeps detonating in a series of ongoing explosions.

    • Your best tips for those wanting to embark on a novella in flash for our next Award?
      Banish doubt & trust the voices & don’t give up on those beautiful damaged characters & what they need to speak, not for an instant – I nearly caved-in & let go of this story, because it was largely composed during crisis, nearly listened to the offscreen murmurs of fears that were waiting to form a cold chorus. Shut that damned descant out the writing room & do it anyway. You can always fend them off for the space of the next flash.
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