A big thank you to everyone who entered our 16th Award judged by Nod Ghosh from New Zealand. Once more we received a huge number of entries, 1457 from 37 different countries listed here:
I would like to thank Jude Higgins and the team at BFFA for inviting me to judge this sixteenth award. I'd also like to acknowledge the hard work early readers do, presenting independent judges with fifty long listed stories within a tight timeframe.
It has been a pleasure reading these pieces. The quality indicates how well contributors craft their stories, producing shining gems of literature that show this genre is not only alive and well, but is thriving. The range of topics and styles on offer shows practitioners of this form can still find something fresh, or interpret ideas in a novel way. Read in Full
Fiona Perry is our 15th first prize winner in our three times a year Award, which has been running since 2016. Here she tells us how her winning story emerged from a 'Covid' dream about her father and a memory of going fishing with him. The painting reproduced here by Nod Ghosh, writer and artist, who is also the judge for our 16th Bath Flash Award, which ends in mid October, is called 'The Sock' and we agree with Fiona that it is very evocative of the sock of mussels alluded to in 'Sea Change Fiona gives the tip to read lots of flash in order to get into the swing of writing it. We agree. There's so much amazing stuff out there in anthologies, online and collections. Flash is evolving all the time. And we are very happy that 'Sea Change' will be published in our fifth year-end anthology in November this year, with many other great pieces from our 2020 Awards.
- Can you tell us how your wonderful story 'Sea Change' came into being?
Fragments of the story originated a Covid dream. My Dad died almost two years ago, I woke up with images of him visiting me at home. In the dream, he was in his prime and happy, we cooked mussels together. He had a friend with a boat and in the summer we would be given crab claws which we would boil and bash open with a hammer on the doorstep to eat with buttered new potatoes grown in our garden. We also loved the holiday oysters we would eat in Carlingford. Fishermen sold on them shucked on the roadside. You could park up in layby and wolf them down with Tobasco sauce! I think those things must have been swimming around in my head before I went to sleep.
Before I structured the story, I researched mussels farming briefly, it was a bit of a gift because the language itself is so evocative and the process of mussel farming sounded symbolic of fatherhood (and transformation) to me so I wrote the story with that in mind. I'm also fascinated by how things and locations appear and disappear in dreams- a bit like a weirdly edited film- but somehow we accept that weirdness in dreams, we are rarely surprised. That's how it came to be. It was interesting that Mary-Jane alluded to Gabriel García Márquez in her report. I re-read 100 Years of Solitude in lockdown so I guess that influence seeped into the story somehow too.
We didn't know if writers would be inclined to enter the Award during the last months. But current circumstances, due to Covid-19, didn't prevent entries pouring in from around the world all through the time the contest was open and particularly during the last weeks of the Award. Plenty of writers received their Last Minute Club badges on the final day, green this time, and overall we received more entries than ever. 1411 in total. The following 35 countries were represented:
We thank our busy team of readers for our 15th Award and big thanks also to our judge, Mary-Jane Holmes for working to the tight schedule between the end of the Award in mid June and the announcements now at the end of June. Do read her excellent judge's report with general comments and detailed remarks on the winning pieces all linked here, This June, first prize and £1000 goes to to Fiona Perry from New Zealand, second prize and £300 to Hannah Storm from the UK, Third prize and £100 to Sam Payne from the UK, and £30 each to the two commended writers, Emily Harrison and Stephanie Carty, also from the UK. All marvellous flash fictions and yet again, great examples of the variety within the short=short form.
We agree with Mary Jane's assessment that the longlist is of a very high standard and we're so happy that most writers on the list have agreed to be published in our fifth anthology which will be published by Ad Hoc Fiction in November or December this year. As ever, we appreciated the huge variety of great entries. We enjoyed the creativity of writers, the many angles on important subjects and themes, the wit, the poignancy and the variety of styles. Thank you to everyone who entered our 15th Award and we hope that you will do so again and give us more wonderful fictional experiences. Our 16th Award, judged by Nod Ghosh from New Zealand, is open July 1st for entries. and will close on Sunday 11th October.
- 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.
Read in Full
The Cool Box
by Nod Ghosh
Ross opened the cool box and removed remnants of his wife's wedding gown, a pair of pliers, the telephone from his grandmother's hallway, a light moment, two books of paramount importance, his daughter's milk teeth, effervescent conversation and a piece of sky, the tenderness of his mother's bosom, the sweat of children running from parents shot by insurgents, a medley of vegetables, the disappearance of two American teenagers, refusal to use dental floss, a holiday in Tyneside, the temperamental nature of a wolf's disposition, his brother's charm, latex gloves, his drama teacher with the blood disorder who walked on crutches after bleeding into his knees, a deformed cactus, the visages of two cats, disparaging and cruel, an engineer's rule, Bach's cello suites No. 1-6, a Mexican wave, ten pins, all the reports he'd produced in the last hundred and fourteen months, a dinosaur tooth, non-iodised salt, a mission to eradicate multi-drug-resistant organisms, a punnet of strawberries, the plagiarism of fools, dormant mushroom spores, a glass table he had coveted but never bought, dielectric grease at three hundred and nineteen dollars for ten millilitres, a tablespoon, a symphony of simultaneous orgasms, cream, manufactured dreams available on-line, developmental delays, a red squirrel from France, two plastic wine-glasses, seven long-playing records he'd never owned, a tomato, mustard, meringue nests, soft cheese, a low-carb sandwich for Rita, and he still couldn't find the paper plates.
'Are you sure you packed them?' he asked.
Rita's hair blew across her eyes.
'Here they are.' She pulled out a pack wrapped in plastic. 'Honestly, I don't know what you were thinking. You seemed lost.'
An invisible comet may or may not have streaked across the sky.
'They were right in front of you'.