For last minute inspiration for this February round of Bath Flash Fiction Award, which closes this Sunday 11th February at midnight (UK time), we’re catching up with David Rhymes, who won third prize in the June 2017 round of the competition, judged by Meg Pokrass with his story ‘The Place We Live Before We Don’t.’ David lives in Pamplona, Spain and sent us a picture of his contributor’s copy of The Lobsters Run Free, outside the cafe Iruna, where Hemingway used to write. From his description of the rooms upstairs with their comfy velvet benches, it sounds like just the right place to go and get ideas. David describes what prompted his own story in our interview and it’s interesting to think of how time passes in narrative fiction and how that can translate into a powerful micro fiction like his. We’re looking forward to seeing David’s historical novel about a bareknuckle boxer in print, and now he’s been re-energised by a recent Fast Flash Workshop with Kathy Fish, to read more of his short fiction as well.
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You can buy our anthologies, The Lobsters Run Free: Bath Flash Fiction Volume Two and Flash Fiction Festival One, both published by Ad Hoc Fiction, from the new online bookshop.
The Lobsters Run Free contains 135 stories – the winning and listed entrants from the 2017 Bath Flash Fiction Awards. The 74 stories in the Festival Anthology are written by presenters and participants at the first ever literary festival dedicated to Flash Fiction, held in Bath in 2017.
Since publication in early December, the books have travelled the world.
Catherine Higgins-Moore lives in New York and shows us a New York city background for her copy of The Lobsters Run Free. She was short listed in the February 2017 round of Bath Flash Award with her story, ‘Holy Cross’.
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We're glad Anna liked the lobsters on the cover of The Lobsters Run Free: Bath Flash Fiction Volume Two and seeing it first online lifted her mood on a frustrating day. Her powerful story with this title was short listed in the February 2017 round of the Award by Kathy Fish, our judge for that round. We thought it summed up many themes in the anthology, and for this reason we placed it as the final story in the book. We think it makes a fitting ending. The title went on to inspire the publisher's striking cover design.
Anna has some good tips for writing successful flash fiction. She says that readers need 'to be transported from one state of being to another' and the best advice she was given about writing flash fictions was that they require 'movement and resonance'. Her story certainly achieves all these things. At the end of her flash fiction, the image of lobsters escaping and running free in an apocalyptic world is very memorable.
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One hundred and thirty-five flash fiction stories from world-wide authors selected from the long lists of the three Bath Flash Fiction Awards in 2017. These dazzling fictions, all 300 words or under, give us fresh insights into world wide concerns – from relationship issues and domestic situations tender or fraught, to war torn landscapes and the plight of the dispossessed. So much is compressed into so few words.
“The stories were of a very high standard...I’m so impressed with how organized and efficient all of the Bath contests appear to be. The production of a beautiful anthology from the contest long list is also very impressive...”
—Kathy Fish, author of Together We Can Bury It and co-author of RIFT.
“I could not believe how many powerful stories I read in the long list of fifty stories. It was very difficult to select the short list of twenty and then to choose the winners.”
—Meg Pokrass, author of Bird Envy, Damn Sure Right and The Dog Looks Happy Upside Down.
“Every single flash I received possessed qualities I admired and envied...I marvelled at the form’s ability to permit such a range of approaches – from slices-of-life to epic narration to poetic experiments and beyond...”
—David Swann, author of Stronger, Faster, Shorter and The Privilege of Rain.
196mm x 134mm, 160pp
Paperback ISBN 978-1-912095-69-8
Seventy-four micro-fictions written by presenters and participants at the first ever literary festival entirely dedicated to flash fiction, held in Bath, June 2017. These short-short stories, 250 words or under, show the wide variety of styles possible in this emerging genre.
Most of the UK’s top flash fiction writers and teachers offered workshops and talks and readings at the Flash Fiction Festival: David Gaffney, Tania Hershman, Calum Kerr, David Swann, Vanessa Gebbie, Kit de Waal, Paul McVeigh, Peter Blair, Ashley Chantler, KM Elkes, Meg Pokrass, Jude Higgins, Christopher Fielden and Michael Loveday. Plus distinguished international guest and leading exponent of the form, Pamela Painter, from the United States.
“It was a wonderful assembly of authors and editors and ‘students’ – though the students already seemed like authors.”—Pamela Painter
“You managed to create a relaxed yet focussed ambiance so that participants could let anxieties fall away, have fun writing and immersing themselves in craft and other skills, soaking up all the varied and sparkling influences that abounded.”—Vanessa Gebbie
“...I had previously come across the genre, viewing it more or less exclusively as something light and whimsical but I had completely under estimated its potential and the discipline involved. It was these latter two aspects that intrigued me...”—Patricia Wallace
“...comments and insights from the workshops showed me how the embryonic idea I started with could be developed and given depth.”—Mary Bevan
196mm x 134mm, 112pp
Paperback ISBN 978-1-912095-67-4
- Your wonderful story 'The Cool Box' won second prize in Bath Flash Fiction Award, June 2017 round judged by Meg Pokrass. Can you tell us how it came into being?
I’m an obsessive hoarder, so keep old e-mail chains. At 7:30 am. on June 10th, I sent the first draft to my critique partner, Auckland author Eileen Merriman. The story had come to me in a dream. I sent it with the following comment: ‘I have attached the flash, though I'm not sure if it's a bit like most of my paintings, fun to do, but of no use to anyone.’
Eileen’s critique arrived a few hours later, with a suggestion to send to Bath Flash Fiction Award. I’d had an urgent call out to the laboratory where I work in the interim, and was chopping up someone’s spleen or something when I saw her message. I nearly forgot about it until nearer the deadline.
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A multi-talented creative artist, Catherine is an inspiration in many ways. Here she tells us how being immersed in the culture of former pit villages, and a vintage picture of boys playing outside Elsecar Colliery, prompted her second prize winning story ‘The Hierarchy of Substances.’ She’s a dedicated writer who begins writing early, continues on and off throughout the day and has many current projects on the go, including finishing a novel which she began in last November’s NaNoWriMo. She also writes poetry and talks here about the similarity between writing poetry and flash fiction… “the music and the flow of the text matters in both forms.” Catherine is a musician by training and an artist. We need to look out for her on Sky Arts ‘Landscape Artist of the Year’ where she is a contestant, having also been in last year’s ‘Portrait Artist of the Year.' We love her self-portrait reproduced here, and her drawing of a pit pony. And we like her advice for entrants to Bath Flash Fiction Award to "sock it to them with that first sentence."
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We were fascinated to read that our first prize winner, Rose McDonagh, is a late night writer and has written almost every day since she was fifteen. Her winning piece was drafted in a community writing group she runs, inspired from one of her own exercises. She says, although it’s not always about getting published, a story gets “half its life from its author and half from being read and understood by other people.” Many writers have commented on the meaning of 'Pony' to them on social media. It’s a story with much resonance. David Swann, our October round judge, said “Haunting and elusive, yet simultaneously plain-speaking and precise – a story I won’t ever forget and my clear winner. Tremendous.”
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Stephanie Clement Photography
Tara L. Masih is editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction and The Chalk Circle (both ForeWord Books of the Year), author of Where the Dog Star Never Glows, and Founding Series Editor of the Best Small Fictions series. Her flash appears in Word of Mouth, Brevity & Echo, Flash Fiction Funny, Flashed: Sudden Stories in Comics and Prose, and W.W. Norton’s forthcoming New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction. Featured in Fiction Writer’s Review for National Short Story Month, her flash received Wigleaf Top 50 recognition and other awards. Her first novel, My Real Name Is Hanna, set in WW II Ukraine, is forthcoming in September 2018 from Mandel Vilar Press.
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