Tag Archives: Stephanie Hutton

Award Round-up June 2019

Thank you to everyone from around the world who entered the June Award. Our fourth 'Last Minute Club' badge was collected as usual by a large number of intrepid entrants and we ended up with 1062 entries this time. We really do appreciate you all so much for entering the Award. Thirty-six countries were represented.

Australia, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

Our big thanks to Judge Christopher Allen for his work in judging and writing his report with his very useful comments on all the stories and for his support and sharing of the Award on social media. Christopher announced the results live at the Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol at the same time as the results were posted online and it was all very exciting. This summer, Gaynor Jones from the UK won first prize, Anita Arlov from New Zealand won second prize, Stephanie Hutton from the UK won third prize, Hilary Dean from Canada was commended and Tim Craig from the UK was commended. Tim Craig was actually attending the Festival and read his story, The Falling Silent for us. And Christopher Allen read Cleft by our winner, Gaynor Jones. It was great to hear these pieces and also lovely to have a New Zealand writer Anita Arlov as one of the winners as she is known by festival presenters from New Zealand, Michelle Elvy and Nod Ghosh.

Many of the authors of the fifty longlisted stories have accepted publication and we are looking forward to reading those and the shortlisted and winning pieces in our end-of-year anthology which will be published by Ad Hoc Fiction in digital and paperback versions and sold online at the Ad Hoc Fiction Bookshop. All published authors receive a free copy of the anthology. The 13th Award is open now and closes in mid October. Results will be out at the end of October. Early bird entrants can buy reduced cost entries until mid-August. And anyone winning our free weekly contest run by Ad Hoc Fiction gets a free entry to the Award. This time the Award is judged by writer, editor and teacher Nancy Stohlman. Read all about her and what she is looking for in Jude's interview with her.

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Stephanie Hutton June 2019 Third Prize

Cosmina Counts

by Stephanie Hutton

Cosmina must measure the room. In this moment, it is all that matters. From her narrow bed, she can just about stretch out her legs before reaching a wall. There’s no ruler to measure the room precisely. Cosmina recalls laughing at her grandmother back in Romania who measured things the old way – how she laughed at all those old ways. Now she would give anything to be scolded by her grandparents: Cine nu are bătrâni să-şi cumpere – ‘whoever doesn't have elders, should buy some’.

But now is not the time for remembering. She must measure. Pas mic – a small step. How many make up this room? She walks the length toe-to-heel, barefoot. The skin of her heels has hardened enough to stick pins in and not feel a thing, from all those months of squeezing her feet into high heels. Cenuşăreasa – Cinderella. No prince after midnight.

Cosmina’s mouth moulds around a map of her route as travelled in numbers.

Jedan, dva, tri, četiri, pet.

Një, dy, tre, katër, pesë.

Uno, due, tre, quattro, cinque.

Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinque.

One, two, three, four, five.

How many pas mic to the low ceiling, the buzzing striplight?

Strip light.

Strip.

How many times has she heard that instruction? In how many languages?

No, she must count only the steps in the room.

Cosmina tries to move the numbers behind her eyelids, to decipher the volume of space she exists in. Instead of school-girl calculations, her thoughts show her the places in-between. Vans, boats, apartments. The stench of roll-ups and bleach. The smiles that flicker before violence. The lies that took a girl and crushed her into the kind of woman who stands in a strange place and counts steps along the floor instead of kicks coming from her baby.

About the Author

Stephanie Hutton is a writer and consultant clinical psychologist in Staffordshire, UK. Her fiction has been shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Award, Aesthetica Creative Writing Award and the Bridport Prize. She writes psychological thrillers is and is represented by Sheila Crowley at Curtis Brown.

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We the Animals
by Justin Torres
Reviewed by Stephanie Hutton

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.
Read in Full

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