Award Two

Kerry Hood
February 2016 Commended

Waking The House Of Feathers

by Kerry Hood

Maria, Consuelo, Inez. On plastic chairs in the courtyard of Casa Quetzalli. Shouting across the fountain at Ofelia, Rosa, Neli. Throwing out a scarred arm, stamping a square-heeled silver sandal.
– You went in my room!
– You took all the chilli at lunch!
– Inez, how did you pay for those teeth?
– May your grandson never visit, you old bitch!

Miquita and walking frame part the sea, sienna hair lifting, cotton at sunrise. She speaks. Neli, the youngest at seventy, is the slowest to stand. She used to sleep in a car until she was set alight.

Gathering by the outer doors the women bow tremory faces towards the shrine, except Xochitl who is dead on her ripple-stain mattress. It is for her they offer feathers and marigolds (the flowers aren’t real, it’s getting expensive). Ofelia breaks wind. Inez curses. Behind, a breeze unveils ten single rooms with their washbowls and candy bars, a gold Jesus, a baby’s bracelet, a red dress nailed to the wall.

Suddenly, the women straighten. Always there is the bruise noise of scooters and trucks and the barbershop radio, but this second, without warning, they can smell the side street, its dancers and drunks and old boxers, feel its gaps where they waited to be taken to alleys before emerging musky and paid for and torn and vacant and brutalized or, exactly a dozen times, loved.

Now metallic eyelids flash. Feet slide slyly forward. Miquita snaps her fingers, improvises thanks for the Casa, for sanctuary. The others cross themselves. Really, they pray for no feathers, no marigolds; they pray for the doors to spread apart, for blood to pump their bodies along the Strip, for the courage to unleash a frenzy blade, but one of them, at least, prays for the chance to know a thirteenth time.

About the Author

Kerry Hood

Cinnamon Press Short Story Prize 2014; Frome Festival 2014; Bridport Prize 2013 (second); Ink Tears Flash Fiction; Bristol Prize Anthology; JBWB Award (twice); Mathew Prichard Award; Writers’ Bureau.

Placed/shortlisted stories: Bridport Prize (4 times); Mslexia (3); Flash500; The New Writer Prize; Cadenza; Frome Festival; Ink Tears; Words For The Wounded.

Title story, Patria and Other Stories (Cinnamon Press 2015); Bristol Prize Anthology Vol 5; Bridport Prize Anthology; BBC Radio 4: ‘Of All The Whole Wild World’ and ‘Two Ticks’ broadcast from Bath Literature Festival.

Plays (ten) include Meeting Myself Coming Back (Soho Theatre. Sunday Times Critics’ Choice, British Theatre Guide Highlight of the Year, shortlisted Meyer-Whitworth Award, London Evening Standard Awards, discussed in Rewriting The Nation: British Theatre Today by Aleks Sierz and Why is that so funny? by John Wright); Caution! Trousers (for Alan Ayckbourn, Stephen Joseph Theatre); Talking for England (Ustinov Bath). Residencies at National Theatre, Traverse, RADA.

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February 2016 Award Short List

Second Bath Flash Fiction Award Short List
Fiction Title Author
And The Sea Rolls On Emily Devane
Backroads Michael Wheaton
Billy Clodagh O'Brien
First catch your hare Sharon Telfer
Five Months Charmaine Wilkerson
Heart of Oak, Body of a Man Kerry Hood
If We Could Dig To China Amber Lee Dodd
My father, who ate a tree KM Elkes
One two three, two two three Jilna Shukla
Roll and Curl Ingrid Jendrzejewski
Shadowtrain Peter Blair
Teacher Keeley Mansfield
The Gift Jeanette Lowe
The love I feel in my belly Joanna Matthews
The Old Man and his Wife Rupert Dastur
Thinking about Jessica Scott Wilson
Waking The House Of Feathers Kerry Hood
What he said about the war Samuel Dodson
Words is words is words Tess Adams
You Have So Many More Choices than Fight or Flight Al Kratz

BathFlash

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February 2016 Award Long List

With huge thanks to every writer who entered our Award from all around the world.

Second Bath Flash Fiction Award Long List
Fiction Title Author
All The Time In The World Emily Devane
And The Sea Rolls On Emily Devane
Are You Afraid Of The Dark? Sarah-Clare Conlon
A widow with a bowl of wine and lipstick coming off Nasim Marie Jafry
Backroads Michael Wheaton
Billy Clodagh O'Brien
Caterpillars June Prunty
Cheese Sandwich Emma Feasey
Claudia is in Love Liz Cookman
Collecting Stones Patrick Holloway
Empty Bunmi Ogunsiji
First catch your hare Sharon Telfer
Five Months Charmaine Wilkerson
Guillotine Matthew Fiorentino
Heart of Oak, Body of a Man Kerry Hood
He Became Mr Maracas Ruth Tamiatto
How To Find Contentment Kit de Waal
I climb into a book Shih-Li Kow
If We Could Dig To China Amber Lee Dodd
Imminent Ruth Tamiatto
Kong Melissa Manning
Leo’s Song Sherry Morris
Lorca’s Little Bird Trisha Hanifin
Midnight in London Jason Jackson
Mom Woke Us One Night D.R.D. Bruton
My father, who ate a tree KM Elkes
Natural Selection Gayle Letherby
Nocturnal Alex Reece Abbott
Not Crying Now Sara Crowley
One two three, two two three Jilna Shukla
Perhaps Rain, Later Alex Coulton
Roderick Takes Control Calum Normand
Roll and Curl Ingrid Jendrzejewski
Shadowtrain Peter Blair
Sniff The Rain Nick Black
Static Caitlin Stobie
Teacher Keeley Mansfield
The Gift Jeanette Lowe
The Last Taxi of the Year Sarah Wallis
The love I feel in my belly Joanna Matthews
The Motherbone Jessica Franken
The Old Man and his Wife Rupert Dastur
Thinking about Jessica Scott Wilson
Unfaithful To The Land Kit de Waal
Waking The House Of Feathers Kerry Hood
What he said about the war Samuel Dodson
When the In-laws Visit Susan Kaberry
Words is words is words Tess Adams
Worth the Having Deb Tomkins
You Have So Many More Choices than Fight or Flight Al Kratz

BathFlash

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New Year Updates

BathFlashThank you to everyone who contributed to the three Charity Editions of our micro fiction project Ad Hoc Fiction. Your donations made £47, we topped it up to £50, and sent it to We Stand Together, this year's Guardian and Observer newspapers' charity appeal in support of refugees.

We're going to continue trialling an optional £1 contribution to Ad Hoc Fiction until the Summer. With all the takings going to each weekly winner, our thinking is simple: The more people contribute, the bigger the prize. We won't be taking a penny. To date, winners have been receiving around £10 along with their usual free entry to Bath Flash Fiction Award. Which brings us rather neatly on to...

This weekend, there will be just four weeks left until we close Bath Flash Fiction Award on February 14th. Why not enter now before the rush and save money by sending in two entries for £15 or three for £18? Our judge, Tania Hershman is selecting from a 50 long short list.

And don't forget our other project coming later this year – a print and digital anthology of flash fictions selected from our Award entrants.

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Early Birds

We know all you writers love deadlines so we have given you two for this round of Bath Flash Fiction Award. Our Early Bird offer ends this Sunday, 13th December at midnight GMT. If you have some flashes ready to be launched into the world or want to write your last best flash fiction efforts for 2015 this weekend, enter them now and save some money. One entry for £7.50 and 2 for £12.00. Our three for £18 deal continues until we close on February 14th – yes, that's only nine weeks and a few days left until we close.

It's always better to send in more than one story to a contest if you can. Why? Because there's the preference factor – some judges will like one better than the other. And that one may be your least favourite.

Our finalist judge, Tania Hershman, is reading a longer shortlist of fifty stories. So give yourself a good chance to make that list. And of course, you have the option of winning a free entry to the main contest by entering our weekly mini contest, Ad Hoc Fiction.

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Interview with our Judge
Tania Hershman

  • You've judged many other flash fiction and short story contests in the UK and elsewhere and have also selected flash fictions for journals. There's a wide variety of styles in the flash fiction genre, but can you tell us what stood out for you in the winning entries and submissions?

Things that stand out for me – and I am only one reader, with my own tastes and preferences – are a love for language, a delight in what words can do, especially in such a short space. Also, a sense that the story was made for the length it is, that it is not a longer story compressed, that it is wonderful not despite but because of its brevity. As for styles, I am open to anything at all, I love being made to laugh and cry, but the main thing is: move me, surprise me, delight me. This can be done without fireworks, without car chases, without much action at all. Or: with all these things! I am looking for stories that sing, that I can hear in my head as I read and for hours, days afterwards. But sing in your own way, not in a way to please anyone else. Send us your best.

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Tania Hershman
Our New Award Judge

Tania Hershman is the author of two short story collections: My Mother Was An Upright Piano: Fictions (Tangent Books, 2012), and The White Road and Other Stories (Salt, 2008) and co-author of Writing Short Stories: A Writers' & Artists' Companion (Bloomsbury, Dec 2014). Her début poetry chapbook is forthcoming in February 2016. Tania's short stories and poetry have been widely published and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4. She is curator of ShortStops (www.shortstops.info), celebrating short story activity across the UK & Ireland, a Royal Literary Fund fellow at Bristol University, and is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.

www.taniahershman.com

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Welcome to Our New Award

First, we'd like to welcome our new judge, Tania Hershman. Regular contributors will notice that we've made a few other changes. In brief, here they are, and why we've made them.

We now have a closing date.
Many of you told us that you prefer to have a time scale to plan out your competition submissions through out the year, so we've introduced closing dates. Our intention is to keep the flash rolling by running three awards per year, each Award lasting four months. To encourage early submission to each Award – and hopefully avoid a last-minute closing date rush – submission fees are reduced for the first two months of each Award.

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