Flash Fiction

The Lobsters Run Free
Bath Flash Fiction Volume Two

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

£9.99 GBP

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Flash Fiction Festival One

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

£9.99 GBP

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Interview with Nod Ghosh
June 2017 Flash Fiction Second Prize

  • 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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Interview with
Catherine Edmunds
October 2017 Flash Fiction Second Prize

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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Interview with Rose McDonagh
October 2017 Flash Fiction Winner

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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Interview with Tara L. Masih
Flash Fiction Award Judge
November 2017 – February 2018

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 novel, The Witness Tree, set in WW II Ukraine, is forthcoming.
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Award Round Up
October 2017

Thank you to everyone who entered the October 2017 round of Bath Flash Fiction Award. As always we had a mix of those who entered before and plenty of new writers. This time we received even more entries from around the globe – nine hundred and thirty-six from thirty-four different countries.

Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

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October 2017 Judge’s Report
David Swann

As a boy, I loved a story about a football player whose team had just won the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium. Sitting in the dressing room after the match, the player complained he'd lost a contact lens out on the pitch. One of his team-mates is supposed to have said, 'Well, this is our lucky day – why don't we go back out and find it?' According to the story, they did just that, and found the contact lens within moments!

I've never known whether the hunt for the lens ever happened, and I don't care – because the story's full of some weird ancient storytelling truth that I trust.

Now I often remember the tale when I'm entering writing competitions. The pitch at Wembley is vast, and success seems impossible.

Yet sometimes the luck is with us. Sometimes there's a glint in the grass.
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Rose McDonagh
October 2017 First Prize

Pony

by Rose McDonagh

“Look,” Declan said.

Joanna moved to the living room window, from which she could see the back green, the bright square of it.

“Oh,” she said. Her pony was munching grass under the washing-line.

“Bloody hell,” Declan said, “Some nutcase has gone and got themselves a horse.”

“Looks like it,” she said.

“What were they thinking?”

The thing was she’d pitied it, all plastered in mud and roped to a lamp post.

“Maybe they didn’t think, maybe they just did it,” she said.

The pony walked under a low-slung bath towel. Its shadow created a cut-out shape. Declan heaved the window open and let in the gentle sound of teeth tearing grass. “Idiots. They’ll not be able to keep it.”

“How’d you know?”

“You can’t keep a feckin horse in a shared garden.”

“It’s more a pony,” she said.

Dinner smells and radio noise rose from the other flats.

“How did they even get it here?”

It had clopped along the pavement. Only once stopping to eat questionable flowers. “I don’t know,” she said. Its forlornness had spoken to her of vocation.

“They’re expensive,” he said.

“Probably won’t cost more than a big dog.”

Declan turned to her. “You’re not going to start moaning at me for a bleeding dog again?”

“Honestly, no.”

“Good. I worry dogs lead to babies.” He pinched her arm, leaving a white patch.

“Ow. I’m over dogs and I’ll never get on to babies. I’ve got finer things to think about nowadays.”

They stepped away from the window and headed into their nook of a kitchen where nothing was cooking.

Out back, the pony shook its mane full of sun and its silhouette shivered. Other figures gathered at other windows. They gazed at it the way they would have gazed at a bonfire.

About the Author

Rose McDonagh was born in Edinburgh. She has had writing published by BBC Wildlife Magazine, Gutter, SmokeLong Quarterly, Fairfield Review, the Guardian online, The Eildon Tree, Brittle Star, The Nottingham Review and New Writing Scotland. She read at Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2017 as part of their Story Shop programme. She currently works for two Scottish charities.

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Catherine Edmunds
October 2017 Second Prize

The Hierarchy of Substances

by Catherine Edmunds

Four barefoot kids walk down the road, sticks in their hands. They pause at the entrance to the mighty Elsecar Main Colliery, years before its 1983 closure; the early morning sun almost shines, despite the rain and leaden skies.

Tonight, the fire crackles. Outside, the trees strain against the night. The hierarchy of substances has been abolished, that’s what I tell my visitors. The whole world can be plasticized and we are become ‘plastiglomerate’. What’s that? they say, briefly interested. A new Anthropocene stone formed of melted plastic, debris and organic matter. We’re sinking beneath the rubble.

The boys are writing an essay: ‘How we lived then’. I tell them I’m not sure why we could never grow lupins. The boys roll their eyes. They’re not interested in lupins or sunflowers, only coal-grimy tragedies.

I love the fells, the falling dark; I love it when the pub is calling and nothing can get between you and that first pint, glorious and full of hope.

I’m bone tired now. Galaxy flowers hold entire universes on their petals, and agate crystals can look like tiny landscapes. The boys don’t want to hear this. When the winding gear fails, how long does it take to hit the ground? That’s what they want to know.

I shake my head, take out my aids, watch them mouthing murmurs of too soft words. I stop and walk backwards for a while. Four of us. Barefoot. Sticks in our hands.

About the Author

Catherine Edmunds was educated as a classical musician at Dartington College of Arts, and the National Centre for Orchestral Studies, Goldsmith’s College, London. After twenty years as a professional musician, she re-invented herself as an artist and writer. Her artwork includes book illustrations and TV appearances, and her written works include a poetry collection, four novels and a Holocaust memoir. She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, four times shortlisted in the Bridport, and has been published in many journals, including The Frogmore Papers, Aesthetica, The Binnacle, Butchers’ Dog, and Ambit.

Find her on her website, or tweet her @cathyedmunds

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