Writing West Midlands Short Fiction Competition 2013

Writing West Midlands is proud to present our Short Fiction Competition 2013 (previously the Birmingham Book Festival Short Story Competition). The theme for this year was ‘Travel‘ and we welcomed entries up to 1800 words in length.

We are delighted to announce the winning entries of the Short Fiction Competition are:

Kalashnikov for Shoes by Hilary McGrath
The Life of Philip McAvoy by Ken Elkes
Twenty Miles South by Garrie Fletcher
Light Sensitive by Ed Briggs

Click on the titles of the pieces to read them.

Our guest judge, novelist Tiffany Murray, had this to say about the overall winner Kalashnikov for Shoes and The Life of Philip McAvoy.

Kalashnikov for Shoes

‘This is a big, sweeping journey. It’s one that tells the story of these particular characters, but also one that tells a story of a whole nation. It’s hard to get such ‘bigness’ into a very short story without becoming sweeping, general, or mawkish. I think Kalashnikov for Shoes succeeds. Of course it starts with a great title.

Shiro and his Aunt’s family are travelling across a border, through the mountains. Their guide is Khalid. Shiro’s cousin, Sa’eeda is lame. It’s a hard journey. They reach their destination. This is the story, but the third person works very well here, taking us step by step; letting these characters speak, focusing on simple showing, on clear unfussy detail. This is a short story that shows the reader a big canvas with detailed, light brushstrokes  – it is a snapshot, and one that certainly lingered with me.’

The Life of Philip McAvoy

‘There isn’t much of a journey here: it’s over before it’s begun. A stranger commits suicide at station. After the event, two witnesses smoke cigarettes with shaking hands, and the reader gets to travel through the heightened moments of a new relationship.

This is a short that celebrates simplicity: and it’s powerful for it. Of course like all good short stories that seem simply drawn, this isn’t at all. This story is complex, bold, and structured by the wonderful pace of the first person present tense voice. This rhythm is both naturalistic and artful. This piece impressed me because of its economy, its focused naturalistic voice, and its bare-knuckle grapple with death and our absolute desire to live. It is writing that expresses something about the difficult business of living that rings utterly true.’