At the end of another decade this is the fifth year of the Bath Flash Fiction Award.Thank you very much to everyone who has submitted to our Awards over the years. It has been a wonderful experience reading so much exceptional flash fiction. In 2020, despite everything, even more writers from around the world entered the 2020 Awards. In total, there were 4235 entries from 49 different countries and people tell us we have been part of putting flash fiction on the map. Which is a lovely thing to hear.
In recent weeks, our fifth anthology, Return to Factory Settings. has been arriving in many different countries. And we hope all 136 contributors, writers who were longlisted, shortlisted or placed in the three Awards will have received their copies. We love the fact that writers new to flash fiction are published in the anthology as well as those who have been published before. The brilliant cover, designed by Ad HocFiction, was inspired by a story within the anthology by UK writer J A Keogh, who explained that it was last year's Bath Flash Anthology that got him started on writing flash fiction. We think that's a great circle to complete.
This year, the judges were Santino Prinzi from the UK, Mary-Jane Holmes who is based in the UK and the USA and Nod Ghosh from New Zealand. We're very thankful to them for the hard work and comments on the listed and winning stories.
You can buy all five anthologies, pictured in the gallery here, from adhocfiction.com
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We're delighted to share an interview with Johanna Robinson, who won first prize in the October 2020 round, which was judged by Nod Ghosh. The story plus two other listed stories of Johanna's is included with all the other winners and longlisted writers who agreed to publication in Restore to Factory Settings Bath Flash Fiction Vol 5. released this week from Ad Hoc Fiction. Johanna was a runner-up in our Novella-in-Flash award in 2019 with her wonderful NIF, Homing. It is now available as an ebook from kindle as well as in paperback from the Ad Hoc Fiction Bookshop. Links to worldwide kindle are on the bookshop page. So if you want to read more of Johanna's work, it is instantly available. We're so interested to learn that her win, 'Blessings 1849', another historical piece, is a story which had been submitted into various competitions previously in different forms and had actually also been sent to BFFA before and not been listed. Johanna describes here how she edited it and we'd love to take up her offer to show the various versions of the story, in a new post on the site. It also gives encouragement to others, as she said, not to lose heart over a piece you are dedicated to. It might need working on, but it can still be successful in finding a home as a competition winner or in a magazine.
Interview Read in Full
Read about our winners and highly commended writers and go to our judge Michael Loveday's report to see his comments on their wonderful novellas-in-flash. All six novellas-in-flash will be published in separate single author books by our small press, Ad Hoc Fiction and will be available to buy in paperback on the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop and in ebook formats on Kindle and Nook in due course. We are thrilled to publish such a brilliant variety flash fiction novellas by these authors and to further support a form of flash fiction growing so much in popularity worldwide.
Winner, Ellie Walsh, with Birds with Horse Hearts. Ellie is a PhD student at the University of Plymouth, where her research focuses on Nepalese feminist literature. She has short stories and poetry published in UK, Canadian and Indian journals, and her play was produced in London. Ellie spends much of her time in Chitwan, Nepal, where the villagers teach her how to farm rice and often tell her to lighten up. Read in Full
Tim Craig, who won third prize in the June Award judged by David Gaffney with his story 'Northern Lights' only recently began writing flash. We love how Tim was prompted to write in this form by his friend, Mandy Wheeler's suggestion that 'Life's too short to write long things'. It's a great incentive to get into writing short short fiction and then perhaps to stitch the pieces up into longer fictions like novellas or novels. After I received Tim's answers to my questions, I asked him for a photograph of his dog, as he mentioned it. We've noticed many of our prize winners for this contest own dogs. He's included a picture of it looking very chilled under a lattice of shade. We hope he gets some quiet time himself soon to do some more writing. He's a very good reader and we'd really like to hear more of his stories. The other picture included here of what he calls 'the hairy babies' he saw in a French cafe, looks like a perfect story prompt. And his tip quoted from Ray Bradbury, to think of rejection as nothing more than a wrong address is a further incentive for anyone to get those words down on paper and not worry about how they will be received.
- Can you tell us what inspired your powerful and atmospheric flash fiction ‘Northern Lights?
I did a fair amount of hitch-hiking when I was younger, and came across some interesting people on the way – a bit like my character Pavel the truck driver, so maybe it was that. There’s certainly something magical about entering a stranger’s life and hearing their story in such a confined space and limited amount of time. In that respect, I suppose it’s a bit like flash fiction itself.
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Jack Remiel Cottrell is one of two runners-up chosen in the 2018 Bath Flash Fiction Novella-in-Flash award judged by Meg Pokrass Here he describes how his novella 'Latter Day Saints', published in our trio of winning novellas-in-flash In the Debris Field emerged from one single line which sparked his imagination and how he gets inspired from authors in many different genres and forms, including writers of 'Twitter' stories. We very much like his advice not to worry about what you are writing, or get hung up about different genres and making your novella fit under a 'Literary' label. Jack often writes in one of the most mesmerising locations we've heard about yet — the laundromat. We haven't a picture of Jack in the laundromat, but we've included his note book and beer picture, his comment being "Are you really a writer if you don't have a large stack of half-filled notebooks on your kitchen table? (Beer added for scale. Also for drinking." In the second photograph taken by his writing teacher Kathryn Burnett, Jack can be seen "hunched over second from the left at the back, trying not to be distracted by the outside world."
- Will you give us a brief synopsis of your wonderful novella-in-flash, ‘Latter Day Saints’ for those who haven’t read it yet?
A young man is attempting to find his patron saint, and in doing so meets a number of patron saints as they live in the 21st century.
- At Bath Flash Fiction, we think ‘Latter Day Saints’ is a very inventive quest story. Can you tell us more about what sparked the idea to write it?
I was 20 tabs deep in the mire of TVtropes.com when I came across something which prompted me to think of the line “It’s dark at the end of the universe.” If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good line. So I needed to find someone to say that line. I gave it to St Dominic, who is the patron saint of astronomers, who didn’t end up making the cut for the novella. From there, I wanted to explore the idea of patron saints in a modern setting. My narrator was initially supposed to be a reader proxy rather than a character. I wrote about three chapters before my writing group told me the narrator was actually the most interesting character, and they were right.
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A collection of three flash fiction novellas from the second Bath Flash Fiction Award which demonstrate the range and scope of this exciting and innovative genre.
"In the Debris Field by Luke Whisnant... chronicles the unconventional experiences of a male protagonist from childhood through middle-age. It is a breathtakingly imaginative study of the strangest ways family members will accidentally scar one another. Readers will relax and enjoy the ride, because they’re in the hands of a flash fiction master.
A Slow Boat To Finland by Victoria Melekian... in which we are not sure how a bereaved mother will recover after losing her toddler daughter in a car accident. Especially when the little girl’s heart saves another child. The strong and convincing writing will pull you right into this story and make you want to know what happens next.
Latter Day Saints by Jack Remiel Cottrell... is a highly inventive quest story. A young man tries to find answers about life and whether it is worth living, from his visits to ‘saints’. Flawed characters, the saints include a labourer, a celebrity, a taxi driver, a city business woman, a second-hand dealer, and an old and frail man. They sometimes help him, and often make him question more."
—Meg Pokrass, writer, poet, editor, tutor. Author of Bird Envy, Damn Sure Right, The Dog Looks Happy Upside Down and Here, Where We Live and Alligators at Night.
196mm x 134mm, 112pp
Paperback ISBN 978-1-912095-61-2
£9.99 GBP Buy Now
We’re thrilled to announce that How to Make a Window Snake, the novella-in-flash by Charmaine Wilkerson and published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2017, won the best novella category in the prestigious Saboteur Awards 2018. Charmaine also won first prize with this novella in the inaugural novella-in-flash Award 2017, judged by Meg Pokrass. When Meg heard about the Saboteur results she remarked – “There was no question in my mind about this novella. Finding a gem like this was a gift.”
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We the Animals is a novella-in-flash by Justin Torres. The stories add up to a brutal and believable insight into family life for three boys growing up in a troubled family in New York. Despite its short length at only 125 pages, it covers big topics including racism, consent, domestic violence and sexuality. The choice of form is interesting – what does the piece gain from being written as a series of flash fictions that could stand alone rather than as continuous prose?
The first story We Wanted More throws the reader into the children’s desperate situation of hunger. The language is poetic and raw – ‘we had bird bones, hollow and light, and we wanted more density, more weight.’ We are introduced to these fighting boys surviving in dire circumstances with a violent father. This first piece reads like a flash, it contains a whole world and ends on a line that stops you from turning the page.
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