Text Box: Text Box: Winning Entries Third Quarter 2012

First: Held in Trust by Susan Howe

Second: Coming For You, Joe Bradley by Douglas Bruton

Third: Crossed Lines by Susan Howe

Click on the titles to read the three winning stories

 

Highly Commended: Driftwood by Kate Blair

 

Judge’s Report for the third quarter’s competition 2012 from Ruth Dugdall

 

You know the pleasure of hunting in a bookshop for a really good read?

Scanning the spines, a title grabs you, so you read the first paragraph. It’s enough, usually, for you to either race to the till and purchase, or slide it back within the stacks.

The stories that worked avoided these pitfalls. In addition, several entries had their own individual strengths:

Gossamer Woman had a lyrical quality that I enjoyed, so much so that I said some of the lines aloud to savour them.

Labels was an interesting idea, and the drug-spiked mugging offered a stark contrast to Lady Charlotte’s world.

Message to Edward Longshanks from Landygirl stood out for its humour (a rare thing amongst the entries), and I did laugh out loud to the deft one-liners.

The White Shop made me pause and re-read, the lines were so good (an example, the sales assistant looking at out protagonist like she’s a `trashy novel`).

Foxes and Violets was luscious. Writers are often told to employ all of their senses and this writer surely did: “She smelled of moth balls and the French mints she rolled around her toothless gums.”

To the authors of all of the above: nice work.

Even as I type, I am very aware of the competing merits of the stories that so narrowly missed a placing. But my task was to pick four winners.

The stories that would have me rushing to the till to purchase had been worked and re-worked, every word pulling its weight. Also, most importantly, they made me think. Reading is not passive, and it is when the writer demands something of the reader that it becomes most rewarding. So, these are the stories which hit the spot for me:

 

1st: Held in Trust

My winner, and picked because I dwelled on in for so long afterwards, pondering the fate of the protagonists. I liked the repetition of `trust me`, the simplicity of the premise that an abused child must trust because she has no power, and the reversal at the end was satisfying and chilling. The abuser, now dependent on his victim, is unaware of his fate. As are we.

I admired the simplicity of the structure, the confidence of the writer not to hide behind any edifice but to trust the power of the narrative.

 

2nd: Coming For You, Joe Bradley

So different from all of the other entries. It had the feel of a historical piece. A different time, a different place, was evoked from the outset. The writing was so confident, the voice so authentic, but the central theme of a man who exacts his revenge not by killing you, the lover of his wife, but by killing her. Your suffering will linger, and you, Joe Bradley, can savour this. The urgent telling of this story combined with the plot make it a perfect vignette.

 

3rd: Crossed Lines

This is the entry that, hours after I'd read it, popped back into my head. A love story of the saddest kind, unrequited love, and ending in a suicide. Poignant, with a satisfying circularity to the structure, set as it is on a the Central line and beginning and ending with the protagonist stepping off a train. 

 

Highly Commended: Driftwood

A tale of a bereaved family who are learning to cope with their loss. This poignant story transported me to the windy beach, I could almost smell the fire. And the suggestion in the final paragraph that this family will survive, and perhaps be stronger as a result, was truly redemptive.

 

The 25 shortlisted entries took me on a journey during which I was moved, cheered and provoked. Good luck to all the authors with their future writing and thank you for sharing your work.

 

We now regularly receive several hundred entries each quarter, so those making the long and short lists should feel very proud.

 

Short Listed Entries — in alphabetical order

 

A Change of Scene by Tracey Glasspool

Against the Tide by Tina Williams

Collateral Damage by Ken Elkes

Coming For You, Joe Bradley by Douglas Bruton

Crossed Lines by Susan Howe

Dark Side of the Moon by Christine Steenfeldt

Driftwood by Kate Blair

Foxes and Violets by Danielle McLaughlin

Gossamer Woman by William John Myers

He Brought Me Orchids by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Held in Trust by Susan Howe

Labels by Ian Humphreys

Lady Luck by Grant Griffiths

Last Night by Moira Garland

Maybe by Julie McGowan

Message to Edward Longshanks from Landygirl by Ellie Smythe

Old-School Horror by Christopher Watson

Thank You for the Days by Gayle Letherby

The Funeral of a Road Slayers Founding Member by David Fraundorfer

The White Shop by Clare Kirwan

They're On Your Head, Stupid by David Salter

Thin Blue Lines by Rhoda Greaves

Thumbprints by Sarah Dobbs

Twist of Guilt by Sue Uden

Weird Distance by Lynn Blair

 

Long Listed Entries — in alphabetical order

 

A Change of Scene by Tracey Glasspool

A Hiding Place by Briar McLean

A Momentary Lapse by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Absent by Helen A. Kiely

Ada Wilson’s Story by Patrick Driscoll

Against the Tide by Tina Williams

All Under Control by Alice Ruddle

Animals by Nastasya Parker

As Philomel in Summer’s Font Did Sing by William Macfarlane

Blast from the Past by Michael Kirby

Bus 26 by Elizabeth Willcox

But is it Art? By Danielle McLaughlin

Collateral Damage by Ken Elkes

Coming For You, Joe Bradley by Douglas Bruton

Crossed Lines by Susan Howe

Dark Side of the Moon by Christine Steenfeldt

Driftwood by Kate Blair

Egg by Julia Anderson

Five Fingers do not Necessarily Make a Hand by Justin Keogh

Flying by Andy Walker

Foxes and Violets by Danielle McLaughlin

Goodnight Diary by Robert Francis Harris

Gossamer Woman by William John Myers

He Brought Me Orchids by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Held in Trust by Susan Howe

Labels by Ian Humphreys

Lady Luck by Grant Griffiths

Last Night by Moira Garland

Malmaison by Frances Canning

Maybe by Julie McGowan

Message to Edward Longshanks from Landygirl by Ellie Smythe

Now That We Live Longer by Ruth Grahame

Old-School Horror by Christopher Watson

Pieces by Andy Mee

Running Jump by Cathie Hartigan

Stains by Cathriona Slammon

Stuck Between by Daniel Winters

Swinging on a Star by Mary Pache

Thank You for the Days by Gayle Letherby

The Cake by Edwina Jones

The Funeral of a Road Slayers Founding Member by David Fraundorfer

The Manufacturing of Sorrow by Bob Thurber

The Number 42 by Jody Cooksley

The Power of Light by Gaynor Jones

The White Shop by Clare Kirwan

They're On Your Head, Stupid by David Salter

Thin Blue Lines by Rhoda Greaves

Thumbprints by Sarah Dobbs

Twist of Guilt by Sue Uden

Weird Distance by Lynn Blair

Why Can't You Get Anything Right? by Cathy De'Freitas