Award Five

Interview with Emma Zetterström
February 2017 Flash Fiction Third Prize

Emma lives on the edge of a Swedish forest and tells us that when she is writing, she often compares the landscapes of Sweden and Scotland, where she is from. In Sweden the seasons are definite, unlike Glasgow, and the skies are very dark with many visible stars. Working as a translator and a teacher of Swedish to refugees, she thinks about words very carefully, and draws inspiration from her knowledge of different languages, the similarities, the differences and the gaps in between. She refers us to a poem to illustrate this. Emma moved from song writing, to writing lyrics which felt like a natural shift and she loves the enormity of what flash can express in a small amount of words. Like many of our other prize winners, her tip for writers who want to enter the Bath Flash Fiction Award is to keep re-reading your work and to get other people to read it too and edit a great deal. Then take the plunge and send. That final action is always worthwhile.
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Interview with Nicholas Cook
February 2017 Flash Fiction Second Prize

There’s much to learn about writing flash fiction in this interview with Nicholas Cook who won second prize in the February 2017 round of Bath Flash with his wonderfully titled and moving story, The Peculiar Trajectory of Space Objects. Nicholas tells us more about the structure of this piece, white space and about the title and the use of titles in general in short short fiction. We learn about his journey to flash fiction via screen writing and the parallels between writing and coding. He also mentions Jane, his most beautiful greyhound/part Saluki dog, who I think, from the photograph, would be most writers’ favourite muse. I love his writing tip that you can even write about a ‘toaster pastry’ as long as the emotion is there and the language interesting.
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Interview with Emily Devane
February 2017 Flash Fiction First Prize

Emily tells us about jotting down ideas for fictions in her notebook, wherever she is. Her habit has resulted in two flash fiction stories shortlisted in previous rounds of the Award and now published in To Carry Her Home: Bath Flash Fiction Volume One and her first-prize winning story from the February 2017 Award. It’s fascinating to read about what inspired all three stories. In her winning story, seeing an angling magazine took Emily back to past memories of fishing. She tells us how she shaped the story to include the child’s shift of perception, the central idea of the piece. Emily also describes how her former career as a history teacher helped her write stories that have subtext and certain inferences. We learn about her time as a Word Factory Apprentice and how it has taken her writing to different places. And she has some great tips for flash fiction writing at the end of the interview.
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Award Round Up
February 2017

Thank you to everyone who entered the February 2017 round of Bath Flash Fiction, those who've entered before and those new to the contest. This time we received seven hundred and thirty-two entries from thirty different countries:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States

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February 2017 Judge’s Report
Kathy Fish

First, I’d like to thank Jude for inviting me to judge this wonderful contest. What a tremendous honor! I’m so impressed with how organized and efficient all of the Bath contests appear to be, especially how quickly the long list is chosen and announced. The production of a beautiful anthology from the contest long list is also very impressive. This all takes hard work and demonstrates huge respect and appreciation for your contestants. Kudos to everyone involved!

I’m also very taken with the spirit of this particular contest. By that I mean the attitude of the contestants. There’s a feeling of camaraderie I picked up on on social media. A spirit of encouragement and high energy. A willingness to go for it and cross your fingers, but if you fail this time, never mind, there is always another great contest coming up. It makes me feel good for the writers involved. Writing is a tough gig! The best way to survive as a writer is to cultivate a sense of lightness, boldness, and playfulness around your work. Not lightness around your material (although that’s okay too), but lightness around the results. If you can keep showing up, keep playing and learning in the face of disappointment and rejection, it gives you a tremendous advantage in the long run. So kudos to everyone who submitted!
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Nicholas Cook
February 2017 Second Prize

The Peculiar Trajectory of Space Objects

by Nicholas Cook

Voyager 1
Nothing’s farther out of the solar system than Voyager 1. And even that still talks back. So I wondered what she meant when she wrote let’s keep in touch. I imagined her looking into outer space for something blinking, not quite sure what was a star.

Voyager 2
Her brother was older by a minute. We sat on his bed, rocket covers and all, everything taking off, sucked into the vortex that was his new ceiling fan. “Why is that so strong?” I asked, but he didn’t answer, said it was okay if I wanted to touch him.

Pioneer 7
Telemetry’s just a fancy word for data transfer. In school they talked about the tail of Halley’s Comet, how it’d be back in seventy years. More time than Pioneer’s been alive. The entire comet eventually worn to a stub. My teacher played his favourite song, I Dreamed a Dream. “People disappear into the ground all the time,” he said. “Not like it’s a world away.”

Mariner 9
When I closed my eyes I imagined levitating under the sucking power of her brother’s ceiling fan. Air enveloping me like a reverse descent into the red planet. The soil was so dry they had to delay imaging from Mariner 9 for months. We learned a body underground will take ten years to decompose, add in the coffin and you’re up to fifty. “Satellites are just pieces of metal eventually falling to Earth,” I told her brother when he started crying.

About the Author

Raised in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, Nicholas Cook has lived in New York City and San Francisco before settling in an 80-year-old house in Dallas with a grey-faced greyhound named Jane. His fiction has appeared in 100 Word Story, A Quiet Courage, New Flash Fiction Review, Camroc Press Review, and elsewhere. He works in technology and drinks too much iced tea. He’s currently at work on a novella-in-flash. Find him at nicholascook.com.

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Emma Zetterström
February 2017 Third Prize

Manganese

by Emma Zetterström

We’re like magnets, I say.
More like velcro, the distance scratches your voice.
Velcro lies flaccid until you stick it together. We snap, I say.
Not anymore. I stamp the snow on the platform.
We should repel, by the laws of nature, and my mum, because we’re the same. You ignore that. In ancient times minerals had a gender, I don’t want you to say what you want to say, but I want you on the line. My credit will run out in minutes.
Why can’t a stone just be a stone? you spit.
Manganese used to be, in, like, ancient times, two black stones. The male one attracted iron and the female one didn’t, I am stalling for you. The train arrives. I learned that at school today.
And only males have magnetism? you’re raising your voice. The train pulls away. Outside, winter has surprised autumn, stumbling in before the leaves have gone.
Magnets don’t work at a distance. Here it comes now. Tear apart the velcro. It’s time to end this.
What about the moon? I plead. It pulls the sea from afar.
I need more than a lunar body to tug me, your voice merges with the train’s rattle.
But I’ll be back once I leave school. Once Mum can’t decide. The words catch in the tiny holes covering the microphone. High rises become houses with junk-shaped snow in gardens. They become fewer. Until there are only white stretches interspersed by black trees. I hold my phone and watch the warning message light up. The money’s almost up. Rooks rise up in fright from the train’s trundle. Their outlines vivid against the snow.
All I hear before the phone cuts is Good.
Good.

About the Author

Emma is a Scot living in Sweden. She writes short stories from a red house on the edge of a forest north of Stockholm. Some of them have been published in the Island Review, Dactyl, Valve and one was long listed for Radio 4’s Opening Lines. She also translates, helps refugees with Swedish and English. She tweets @cookazstorm.

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Barbara Mogerley
February 2017 Commended

Cups

by Barbara Mogerley

Two artists shared a studio in Montmartre. The younger slept on straw in the corner of the room. His desire for realism tormented him, “Art is truth and truth is art,” he used to say. He rose at sunset, worked ‘til dawn; forgot to eat and rarely slept. He worked outdoors, he worked indoors; his inspiration had no limits.

The elder drew forks. His creations included: Fork with Still Life, Fork at Rest and Fork City, the latter inspired, he said, by Elliott’s Preludes. Celebrities appeared in them: Fork and Bono, students copied them, art collectors collected them. The New Yorker featured an article on his work: Is the fork what separates man from beasts?

One day, the younger – tired, dishevelled, hungry, broke - watched the elder complete Fork and Knife: A Study in twelve minutes, then eat a bacon roll. ‘Simplicity’, the elder advised, is the key. The younger bought a beginner’s art book. He mastered the outline of a cup in five minutes; produced four paintings an hour; named the naturalists as his inspiration. He drew cups with saucers, cups with plates, cups with teaspoons, cups with cups. His most fêted piece was a collaboration with the elder called, Cup and Fork: It took them fifteen minutes to complete. A dissenting voice called it ‘pretentious fork’, another called it ‘passé’. The world’s attention soon turned towards a young spoon artist.

About the Author

Barbara Mogerley lives in Dublin where she is researching and writing about her German grandfather's internment as a civilian P.O.W. Barbara is also working on some personal essays and short stories. She has been longlisted for two Fish Prize competitions and long listed and shortlisted for writing contests at the online journal, Someblindalleys where she was also one of the winners of their 'Fiction of the Future' competition. Other wins include a place on writer Molly McCloskey's workshop organised by Trinity College, Dublin.

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Elisabeth Ingram Wallace
February 2017 Commended

My Thirty-Eight Step Korean Cleansing Routine

by Elisabeth Ingram Wallace

Six months ago, my Mum and I started to get serious about skincare.

Mum’s goals were to be ‘barely there’, ‘flawless’ and ‘age-defying.’

My goals were to ‘go big’ and ‘colour!’

Mum tried ninety-eight Concealers and Foundations.

I tested Highlighters (for inner glow) and Contouring kits (to define).

You can find all our reviews on YouTube. With the product placement offers rolling in, we took things up a level.

Mum had her tummy tucked.

I got a bigger bum, bigger boobs, and bigger lips.

We weren’t getting the impact we wanted, YouTube viewer wise, so we upped our game.

Mum spackled plaster into her wrinkles and applied beige masonry paint.

I had my forehead surgically removed and replaced with the skull of a tiny baby bird. I’ve always felt insecure about my skull, ever since I was a toddler and I first noticed my cranium was disproportionate to my mandible.

Mum started sleeping with a bucket full of slugs on her face, so the slime would infuse her epidermis overnight.

I killed a man and climbed inside his body and wore him as a moisturising onesie.

That week, we got 4.8 million followers on Twitter!

Yesterday Mum filled the bathtub with sulphuric acid. Overnight, her body fizzled and melted into slime. By dawn, she was barely there. I drained her away this afternoon.

With Mum gone, I need to find myself. Centre myself. Be Me.

That’s why I’ve established my thirty-eight step Korean cleansing routine.

Self-care is a core component of mental health.

No more drama, surgery or make-up. Just clean healthy skin; twelve toners, three ampules, eight serums, nine moisturisers, and six sheet masks, twice a day.

It’s me time. No more Twitter, no more YouTube, no more Facebook. No more sharing, friending, following. No more words.

About the Author

photo credit Rob MacDougall

Elisabeth has worked as an art director, production designer and prop maker in adverts, horror films, music videos and Kids TV. She’s made (fake) bombs, torture dungeons, flying sandwiches, vegetable rock-bands and giant emus.

In early 2017 she received a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust, which means she can now spend less time building murder lairs in the forest and more time writing.

Elisabeth is currently writing ‘The Precinct’, an apocalyptic short fiction series, and is in the middle of writing her first novel. She can be found @shortstoryprize.

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