Judging the inaugural Bath Flash Fiction Award has been both an honour and a delight. The organisers did the hard work of sifting through one thousand entries and sent me, as if by magic, the twenty intriguing stories on this shortlist.
The first thing that struck me was the proliferation of certain themes — death, apocalypse or social breakdown featured in at least half the shortlist — which is not to say that the stories themselves are uniform. Far from it. Without exception, the writers have used their 300 words to create something fresh and distinctive.
2014 was a successful year for our judge, Annemarie Neary. She won the Michael McLaverty short story competition, achieved joint second place in the KWS Hilary Mantel international short story competition, and was joint runner-up in the Sean O'Faolain international short story competition.
Emma Mitchell, senior editor at Hutchinson (Penguin Random House UK), bought world English rights to her novel, Siren, as well as one other book. About Siren she said:
"This brilliant novel grabbed me right from the dramatic opening scene. Annemarie is an outstanding storyteller and builds the tension, page after page, to an exhilarating denouement. I’m delighted to have her for the Hutchinson list.”
Annemarie is an Irish-born novelist and short story writer, now living in London. Her awards for short fiction include both the Bryan MacMahon and Michael McLaverty short story competitions (Ireland) and the Columbia Journal fiction prize (US). She has also been a prizewinner in the Bridport, Fish, UPP Short FICTION, and KWS Hilary Mantel short story prizes, amongst others. Her novel Siren is forthcoming from Hutchinson (Penguin Random House UK) in Spring 2016.