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Below are details of the To Hull & Back Humorous Short Story Competition 2014 winners and shortlisted entries. Congratulations to all the prize winners, highly commended and shortlisted writers – all their stories appear in the first To Hull & Back Short Story Anthology!
There is also a list of special mentions. These are to recognise the brilliance of the stories that missed the shortlist by a whisker.
The 2014 competition received 94 entries. It was incredibly hard to select the shortlist and winners because there were so many amazing stories entered. Honestly. I’m not just saying it to be nice. It was a pleasure to read so many fantastically inventive tales, all containing elements of pure writing-magic. I’d like to thank everyone who entered.
If you didn’t make the shortlist or receive a special mention, please don’t be disheartened. Many of the stories entered into this year's competition are very, VERY publishable. Just because you didn’t make the shortlist does not mean you won’t succeed in the future. Every judge’s opinion is different. Please, keep submitting your stories elsewhere.
I'm proud to reveal the prodigious winners of the first To Hull & Back short story competition. Congratulations to them all!
How Not to Undertake an Effective Time-and-Motion Study by Mike Scott Thomson
Psycho by Christopher Berry
The Biscuit Burglar by Adele Smith
In alphabetical order:
A Meeting of the Minds by Kathryn England
Lame Duck: You're Fired by Will Haynes
Weltschmerz by Stephen Pollock
Below are the fantabulous shortlisted entries, in alphabetical order. Links take you to each author's biography.
Adele Smith – The Biscuit Burglar
Andrew Campbell-Kearsey – The Ballad of Billy-Bob
Ben Langley – The Haunting of Adrian Delacroix
Caimh McDonnell – The Process
Christopher Berry – Psycho
John Emms – Reluctant Heroes
Julia Breck-Paterson – To Hull and Back
Julian Hampton – The Extraordinary Diary of a 23rd Century Teenager
Kathryn England – A Meeting of the Minds
Keith Newton – The Keycock
Kerry Barner – A Man of Great Appetite
Mike Scott Thomson – How Not to Undertake an Effective Time-and-Motion Study
Polly Ann White – Builders from Huell
Richard Dunford – Pseudonym
SS Kaye – To Alliterate, Full Stop
Stephen Pollock – Weltschmerz
Sue Powis – New Year Revolution
Tom Norton – Sonny’s Juliet
Will Haynes – Lame Duck: You're Fired
Will Ingrams – Own Devices
Below are a few special mentions for some utterly amazing stories that missed out on making the shortlist by a smidgeon. Again, links take you to the author's biography.
Ben Langley – Wow! Hot! A Cautionary Tale
Dave Clark – This is Kelly, 3.00 a.m.
Jan Ramming – The Carpet Cleaner
Jon Meyer – The Mission
Kimberly McAfee – The Return of Imagination
Will Haynes – Professional Woman
On Saturday the 18th of April 2015, I strapped a copy of the To Hull & Back Short Story Anthology 2014 to my motorcycle in the fair city of Bristol, UK, and filmed it being ridden to Hull, a city in the desolate plains of Northern England (not really desolate... it is in the north, but it's a lovely area - I'm just being dramatic for effect). Mike Scott Thomson, the winner of the inaugural competition, agreed to meet me in Hull. He was more sensible and took the train from London. We drank a beer or ten beneath the Humber Bridge.
Early(ish), on Sunday the 19th of April 2015, I got up and rode back to Bristol nursing a teensy weensy hangover. Thankfully the cold air worked its magic and by the time I hit the M62 the hangover was no more
Here is the video of the first adventure to Hull (may there be many more):
To Hull & Back - 2014 winner's video starring Mike Scott Thomson
From Bristol, the ride to Hull is 227 miles and takes about 5 hours with a couple of pit stops for fuel, burgers and the emptying of bladders etc. So the round trip was 454 miles.
The somewhat wind damaged and insect spattered book has now been delivered to Mike by Royal Mail's finest.
There it is, ladies and gents. That's a prize! :-)
Below are the biographies and beauteous pictures of the authors who have been shortlisted or received a special mention. Congratulations to each and every one of you.
Up until four years ago, I was a full-time teacher of drama, so for me, writing was born more from a sense of panic than gradual self-realisation as I sought to bail out the least prepared of my GCSE students with my hastily scribbled monologues. After sixteen years in the job, I decided that my days of being the back-up writer were over. It was time to try it alone.
Since leaving full-time teaching in 2010, I have completed three novels: ‘The Garden Dancer’, ‘Left Field’ and ‘Show Me Where’. I have also written twelve short stories, three of which received commendations or long-list mentions in competitions. ‘The Biscuit Burglar’ received third place in the ‘Lady in the Loft Competition’ last year. Alas, the publishing deal still eludes me but I intend to keep working on that, even if it takes me the rest of my life.
Now I work as a fitness instructor and sometimes teacher and write to please myself, as long as it fits around boxing classes and boot camps, hoping for the day when I can give it all up and do what I enjoy most in the world: writing.
I was a primary head teacher in another life. Now I make things up. I’ve had two collections of short stories published and a couple of short films made of my work. Thorny Devil Productions are currently pitching a television series based on my short stories.
My second film, ‘A Quiet Courage’ based on my short story ‘A Dangerous Precedent’ will be screened at the Tenth Hollyshorts Film Festival in Los Angeles in August 2014, starring Louise Jameson and Annette Badland.
Benjamin J. Langley graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in 2012 where he was awarded the Katy Price Prize for the best major writing project. He is currently studying towards an MA in Creative Writing and is working on his first novel. His fiction has been published by Dark Tales, Words with Jam, and Skive Magazine and he has had comedy sketches broadcast on ITV and on BBC digital radio.
In his decade on the British stand-up circuit, Caimh McDonnell has firmly established himself as the white-haired Irishman whose name nobody can pronounce. He’s also had four critically acclaimed hour-long shows at the Edinburgh fringe.
When not performing stand-up, Caimh is in great demand as a writer for TV. He has recently worked on ‘The Sarah Millican Television Programme’ and Mock The Week. He also works as a children’s TV writer and was BAFTA nominated for the CBBC animated series ‘Pet Squad’ which he created. He was a winner in the BBC’s Northern Laffs sitcom writing competition, where he was lucky enough to be mentored by Craig Cash and Phil Mealey of ‘Royle Family’ fame. He’s had a lot of sitcoms optioned by production companies but none have yet to get commissioned, which he is absolutely fine with.
He has only very recently started writing prose, mainly because it was a refreshing change to be able to write something where only his opinion mattered. He lives in Manchester where he is about to start his Masters in Creative Writing at MMU – because the library looks nice.
Christopher Berry is an author and copywriter currently residing in Hampshire, England. He has published a number of children's books, including a fantasy novel, "The Pendulum Swings", and a series of illustrated books for children, “The East Pudding Chronicles”. These are stories about the ‘alternative’ origins of Christmas traditions, such as mistletoe, crackers and Christmas trees, in the vein of Roald Dahl and Tim Burton’s darker manner of storytelling. All these books are available on Amazon.
Christopher is currently working on a trilogy of novels called "Million Eyes", featuring some of Britain's most famous unsolved mysteries, cover-ups and conspiracy theories - with some time travel thrown in for good measure. He will soon be submitting the first book to agents and publishers. He also runs a blog called Behind The Curtain, a lighthearted look at some of the world's biggest mysteries and conspiracies.
A few years ago I retired from a career as a local government lawyer, during which the only vaguely creative writing I could manage was for professional journals, so not wildly exciting. I now at last have the time to indulge my long-held desire to write in a way which is less vaguely creative, with a number of short stories and articles published here and there, not least in Slightly Foxed and The Oldie, though rather a lot not published anywhere. I have also written a few plays, only one of which has been performed and won prizes.
I was born on the Isle of Wight in 1941, when my father was serving in the Royal navy, based on Culver Cliff.
I was an art student and a commercial artist, venturing into acting – theatre and television – and working many years with Spike Milligan.
I moved to France twenty-five years ago and returned to art. I paint, make miniatures and write, having a couple of novels on the go. My entries to the To Hull & Back comp have not been published or offered anywhere.
I joined a creative writing group and we published a volume called ‘Every Other Friday’, in which I have several short stories and nonsense verse.
I am married, with three sons, scattered far and wide. Have two dogs and a cat and like condensed milk.
I really have been to Hull.
I would like to write more, but the comp closes in seven minutes.
And I have noticed that all my sentences begin with I. Sorry!
Mr. JR Hampton resides in a quaint little house on a quaint little Cul-de-sac in a quaint little city named Coventry. He teaches English and Maths at a quaint little college. How did he come to be?
Well, let’s suppose that some time in history, Douglas Adams and Sue Townsend collided at an incredible speed at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. One night, when a technician was cleaning up the mess he discovered lying in the tunnel, a half written story titled The Extraordinary Diary of a 23rd Century Teenager by JR Hampton. Well, the universe had to do something about this right away so, out of thin air, up popped JR Hampton on a sofa, in a quaint little house in Coventry, who instantly declared an idea for a story he'd just had.
I’m an Australian and have been writing for about twenty years, mostly for children, but also contribute to magazines, mostly women’s fiction. It was actually the magazine fiction that got me started. I received some initial acceptances then got a bit of a head swell and tried my hand at writing children’s fiction. I’ve only recently gone back to the adult fiction because I do enjoy doing both.
Keith was born and educated in the North East of England, went to Canada to pursue further studies and stayed there to teach. As a researcher and professor of Economics ‘publish or perish’ was part of the game so he has put out several dozen articles and books. He has taught at several universities, headed numerous research teams, advised governments and lectured in a dozen countries. A year in Australia was professionally productive and culturally stimulating: good work-mates, opera, cricket and beer.
An ageing athlete, he enjoys most of the fine arts (in which he includes many sports), reads a lot, and likes travelling and regular sessions of profound conversation at the pub. His volunteer pursuits include tutoring immigrant children in preparation for university, and directing daily bouts of ‘whiteboard hangman’ with roguish gangs of enthusiastic inmates at a seniors’ residence. Supposing himself not yet in his dotage he is now attempting to write something other than the academic and technical stuff. He remains guardedly optimistic.
Kerry Barner was born in Yorkshire in the north of England, but has lived in London for 20 years. She is a commissioning editor for an international academic publisher. In 2009 she was shortlisted for Wasafiri’s New Writer Prize and her work has appeared in Brand literary magazine, Notes From The Underground, Anthropology and Humanism, Spilling Ink Review, The Bicycle Review and the Momaya Annual Review 2012. In 2011 she co-founded The Short Story competition and now runs it solo. In June 2014 she published the first anthology of Best of The Short Story. Loves dogs, hates mashed potato.
Mike Scott Thomson's short stories have been published by a number of journals and anthologies, including The Fiction Desk, Litro, Prole, The Momaya Annual Review, and Stories for Homes (in aid of the housing charity Shelter). 'Me, Robot,' his story to feature in The Fiction Desk anthology Crying Just Like Anybody, was also adapted for performance by the theatre group Berko Speakeasy. Competition successes include the runner up prizes in both the InkTears Short Story Competition (2012) and the Writers' Village International Short Fiction Competition (2013).
Born in Essex and raised in Sussex, he now lives in the part of Greater London which somehow has a Surrey postcode. For a day job, he works in broadcasting.
You can see Mike's blog here.
Born in Hampshire I now live in Yorkshire and have four children, twelve grandchildren and countless chickens.
I taught Graphic Design and Mixed Media for twenty years and have over forty nonfiction books published, plus one illustrated children's book, translated into Japanese.
I used to write for the Yorkshire Post Women's Page but ceased after eighteen months because the fees were abysmal, it being Yorkshire.
Last year I was short listed for the London Magazine Annual Short Story Competition.
Attempting to write fiction is a compulsive disorder, tempered only by trying to maintain a modicum of self-belief in the face of crushing rejection. My confidence breathes in one area of literature but has croaked in the other.
My time is spent (after essential eating and 'over the yardarm' libation) writing, painting, printmaking, gardening, organising the rota for Weekend Grandchildren and occasionally whipping round the house with a feather duster. I listen to the Archers, always anticipating the annihilation of Ambridge via a colossal sinkhole. Hence, unending disappointment.
I am hoping to live, faculties intact, to the age of 108, still writing, painting and generally having an uproarious time.
I am profoundly grateful for my life thus far.
Writer and filmmaker from the south coast of England. Debut novel 'TABULA RASA' published by new dawn publishers in 2012 (available on Amazon). Debut no budget feature as writer/director 'POV' due to be completed 2014.
Am currently 75,000 into writing (rather badly, it must be said) a complete pile of drivel that keeps me stressed and entertained and exhausted and exhilarated in equal measures. I have two children aged 8 and 5 who keep me stressed and entertained and exhausted and exhilarated in equal measures, and a husband who used to be a vet and is now a bestselling author who keeps me stressed and... yes, I'm sure you get the point.
Inner Me is obnoxious, Outer Me is kept less interesting so that it can't be categorised with such strong language.
Stephen Pollock is originally from Glasgow in Scotland. In 2009 he moved to Australia, where he works as a journalist. He has had seven short stories published in various literary journals and publications, including Regime and Cracked Eye, and has won two UK short story competitions. He has also had poetry published in the Brisbane Speed Poets journal. Most of his fiction is inspired by his former life in Glasgow, a city that throbs with drama and humour. He is currently putting the finishing touches to a novel set during Glasgow in the 1990s, amidst the backdrop of Cool Britannia. He enjoys Vladimir Nabokov’s novels and the poetry of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Born in Birmingham and resident of Solihull for more than 30 years. Mother of two children. Taught in Birmingham schools for many years eventually specialising in Special Needs. Assistant in Speech and Language Therpapy in Solihull PCT for young adults with Downs Syndrome.
Photographic volunteer for The War Graves Photographic Project, an arm of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Written many articles in various magazines concerning my work for the War Graves Commission.
Tom Norton is a freelance writer with a growing collection of short stories and flash fiction that have appeared in various anthologies. Spending his day job writing strategic planning reports for university management, his mind unsurprisingly itches for more exciting, fantastical worlds. He spends his evenings studying for Birkbeck's MA in Creative Writing, and has a novel in the early stages of its long journey to completion.
Will Haynes started his career in the UK film industry as a runner on high-profile feature films, before progressing to various supporting roles (such as production assistant, producer’s assistant, assistant coordinator and assistant director- many different terms for fetching coffee from Starbucks), while directing and producing independent music videos and short films, before absconding to travel and write. He has completed one novel ‘Shoot The Runner’ and a collection of short stories. He is currently undertaking his second novel, while hoping to get the first one published at some point in the not-too-distant future. His short story ‘The People’s Republic’ has recently been awarded both The Excellence in Contemporary Narrative Award and The Diamond Award in The Labello Press International Short Story Competition and was published in Gem Street: Collector's Edition. Because of this, he is now unbearable to be around.
Will was born in London but grew up in Hampshire before studying Physics in Manchester. He has taught a range of subjects to children and adults in both the UK and the Caribbean, and has also worked in the computing industry. Will began to devote more time to fiction writing in 2011, experimenting with form and style. He was successful in reaching the long-list for the 2014 Bristol Short Story Prize, and is a member of Stradbroke BigSky Writers. He lives in rural Suffolk with his wife and family. You can see his blog here.
Dave Clark was born in Essex and lives in Cambridge, though his stories are mostly set in Swansea, New York and London, and occasionally outer space. His stories have also appeared in the charity anthologies 50 Stories for Pakistan and 100 Stories for Queensland. He regularly posts stories on abctales.com, under the alias of Terrence Oblong. He has a tentative website at: http://terrenceoblong.blogspot.co.uk
Jan Ramming wrote news and feature articles as a freelance journalist for The Beacon News and Northwest Quarterly Magazine. She dabbles in fiction from her home in Geneva, Illinois, where she lives with her husband, daughter, and two lucky dogs.
By day, a kitchen fitter, by night, a writer… Well sometimes if I’m not too knackered. Desperately trying to finish a novel started some twelve years ago, but other exciting projects tend to get in the way. Still aiming to retire on the proceeds, but may well be living off my pension by then anyway.
Kimberly S. McAfee is a former accounting professional who is currently writing and studying for the LSAT. She has co-authored a scholarly journal article titled "Markopolizing Conversion Fraud: Understanding and Identifying Opportunities for US Financial Reporting Conversion Fraud;" this article is in the publication queue for Allied Academies Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues. Ms. McAfee is working on another fraud-related article dealing with the need for additional accounting legislation. Ms. McAfee enjoys writing short stories, and is working towards writing a book as well.
Below are the judges' biographies (listed alphabetically) along with some comments about their experiences of being involved with the first To Hull & Back short story competition.
Most of the writers are members of Stokes Croft Writers, a writing group based in Bristol, UK. The link takes you to our website which, at the time of writing, is brand new and still being built.
I like to write stories from the imagination of my 12 year old self, although I am a teensy weensy bit older now, I have more life experience to experiment with!
Georgie Fielden is the girl behind Carrie who enjoys adventure. Georgie has travelled extensively and her real passion is cycle touring. She will be sharing a new adventure blog of her mammoth cycle ride through the African continent with the Ubuntu Cycle which is due to start October 2015.
In the meantime both Carrie and Georgie are hiding away in Deepest Darkest Devon. Carrie is turning her shed into a beech hut and Georgie is cycle training.
A wonderful agglomeration of hilarity, quirk, wit and imagination unfolded before my eyes as I read through each and every story, often laughing out loud.
I can see in my mind’s eye each individual author busying away at their respective work stations, exercising their incredulous imaginations and I wonder where the seeds of each and every story came from. Were they written at home, in an office, in the shed, at the local café or up a mountain?
To think of the amount of hours that must have been collectively spent to bring this anthology alive is mind-blowing.
The scoring system we used helped me to judge each entry fairly whilst allowing for my personal favourites to show through.
I take my hat off to Chris for all of his hard work in creating his website to help and inspire writers all over the world. As to how he managed to make the time to read ALL the entries and whittle them down to a short list of just 20 is a true feat of dedication.
It has been a privilege and a pleasure to help judge this unique competition and I am excited to watch it expand and grow over the coming years.
Christie is one of the founding members of Stokes Croft Writers. She writes humorous fiction and is currently finishing her first novel, a dark comedy about a Geography teacher's breakdown. In the meantime, to keep her hands busy and get the weird images out of her head, she writes short stories about the odd characters that fill her dreams.
She lives in Bristol with her husband and their 6 happy, healthy chilli plants, trying to convince the former to buy her a sense room and to remember to water the latter.
In preparation for this, I made sure to judge lots of people in my every day life. It didn't go down very well with my nearest and dearest and I still found choosing a winner extremely difficult. It was an honour to read other people's words and witticisms and it almost didn't feel fair to have to choose only one. However life isn't fair so we did.
Well done to everyone who entered - it was a joy - and to Chris for starting such an excellent competition. Have fun in Hull!
There's an entire About page regarding this lunatic, so rather than repeat it all here, please go and read that.
You can see my comments in the section below.
A young man with a lot to offer, (only 17, isn’t he pretty), Joshua enjoys writing, drawing and long walks in the park. When he’s not in his bedroom, practising for the hermit of the year competition, he’s outside walking, in a park. Joshua’s past achievements include publication by the Young Poetry Network. With a novel, film scripts, poetry collections and an upcoming exhibition in the works, Joshua is not ready to let his lack of any reputation hold him back. Joshua Keeling, one of the talents of the moment that’s really worth keeping an eye on, unless you’ve got something better to do, which you probably have.
Reading the work intensively and being allowed to rate things by preference was great, normally that's a thing that I can't bring myself to do because I'm just the nicest person in the world since Jesus of Nazareth was around putting his feet places in ancient times. To be able to 'judge' showed me what I like, what I don't like and what a brilliant amount of writers there are that have nothing to do with being massively popular and well known (yet, of course) producing content with patterns of thought in line with my own favourites. An eye-opener, more than just for the fact that my eyes were required for the task.
Leah is a Bristol-based writer originally hailing from the dark hills of Derbyshire. She says she enjoys cycling and running, but really devotes most of her spare time to watching cat videos, drinking tea and pretending to write while secretly listening to musicals. She particularly recommends Rent.
Mostly Leah writes short stories, often inspired by overheard snatches of conversation. Choose your words carefully should you find yourself wandering the streets of Bristol, particularly St Pauls.
Wow – I take my hat off to all the writers who made the shortlist. It was a privilege to read all of your different stories. In addition to the high levels of originality and writing skill, I was amazed by the diversity, both in terms of style and substance, of what was sent in.
Trying to choose a winner was like trying to pick a Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream flavour: overwhelming, and made no less easy by the fact that you know every single one is worthy of your notice. Unlike choosing a Ben & Jerry’s flavour, however, I could not be greedy and just
eat everything make everyone a winner. Proof that judging is kinder on the waistline, but harsher on the soul.
A massive congrats to everyone involved: writers, judges, and of course Chris for organising it all. I look forward to seeing the finished anthology – and to hearing about Chris’ epic journey to Hull and back…
Mel Ciavucco is a Bristol based writer, originally from Staffordshire. Her short stories have been published in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly magazine and in the Darker Times Fiction anthology. She was a Notable Contender for the Bristol Short Story Prize, and won third place in the Henshaw Press short story contest. She is currently working on a screenplay for her first feature film, plus a short film, plus finishing her novel ‘Occasus’ which is post-apocalyptic drama. In amongst all this she works for a counselling charity and in the very little spare time she has left she enjoys cooking, yoga and going to the cinema, but not all at the same time.
Mel has her own website which you can see here.
I have an apology to make to all the unknown judges I’ve secretly cursed after not winning various competitions! Now I understand how hard it is to be a judge - there are so many talented writers out there (and funny too!). This was very, very hard. If I had my way I’d of picked about six stories for the number one spot. Well done to everyone who was shortlisted, you’ve all brought a smile to my face. It really is an honour to be a judge, so thanks again to all the writers and to Chris Fielden for making all this possible.
I've been a keen reader, writer and artist since childhood. Originally from the suburbs of London, but now living in Bristol, UK, I work part time as an administrator and spend my spare time writing. My dark tales range from stories set in dystopian realities to ghost and horror.
My publishing history to date runs to six short stories.
Horror short Bloody Christmas is to appear in Grinning Skull Publishing’s seasonal horror story collection Christmas 2014.
Horror short, Tiny Claws, won the Dark Tales March 2014 international competition and is due out in a winners collection in 2014.
Dystopian tale, Dreg Town is due to be published in 2014 in an anthology by Almond Press, called ‘Broken Worlds’.
Gothic ghost novella, The Tale of Storm Raven, was published as an e-book by Dark Alley Press in April 2014.
Dark fantasy, The Flight of Horses, appeared in the sixth Darker Times horror fiction anthology after receiving an honourable mention in their November 2013 competition.
Ghost story, Watcher from the Woods, was published as an e-book by Alfiedog Publishing, August 2012.
Steph has her own website which you can see here.
This was a tall order as the shortlist was so good. All had elements that really grabbed me and made me think about issues such as what constitutes a good ending. To pick a number one was certainly a challenge.
As mentioned before, there were 94 entries.
Overall the competition made a small loss. Why? Because of competition advertising costs, design costs, prize money (this year, first prize is £100, second prize is £50 and third prize is £25), Paypal charges, video production costs, costs associated with publishing the anthology and, of course, the loooong ride to Hull and back.
Despite the loss, I’ve decided to take a gamble (assuming I’ll sell a few copies of the anthology) and up the prize pot for next year. In the future, I’d love to be able to offer the winning writers thousands of pounds. That’s the aim. So I intend to up the prize money on offer every year if I can.
I’m pleased to say that I didn’t have to disqualify any of the entries into this year’s competition. The majority of the writers obeyed all the rules. A few made minor errors. To keep things fair, part of the scoring was based on obeying the rules, so if anyone did make an error they received a lower score during the judging process.
It was very interesting to see the scores from the different judges. Each of us had different tastes and a wide variety of stories from the shortlist were deemed winners. In the end, the stories that won were those that continually scored well across the board. It just goes to show, judges opinions do vary, so if you don't succeed in one competition, keep entering others. You will be published eventually!
There’s not much else to say really. I laughed a lot while reading the entries, and that’s something I like to do. I hope everyone who purchases the anthology giggles a lot too.
The anthology will contain all 20 of the shortlisted stories and a story by each of the judges. This isn't so the judges can show off. It's so writers who read the anthology to research for next year's competition can learn more about the kinds of styles the judges favour. And for those readers who just like to read, well... it adds a few extra stories to the collection for their enjoyment.