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To Hull And Back Short Story Competition Results 2018

Quick links on this page:

winners - shortlist - longlist - special mentions - judges - notes - current competition

anthology - book launch (8th Dec @ Left Bank in Bristol) - winner's video

I'm pleased to announce the results of the 2018 To Hull And Back Humorous Short Story Competition.

I received 456 entries this year, another substantial increase compared to previous years. Growth = more prize money, so I've been able to increase the prize pot for the fifth year running.

I'd like to say a monstrously massive THANKING YOU MUCHLY to everyone that has entered. Your support means that To Hull And Back is becoming more popular, more well-known and more awesome with each year that passes. The competition could not continue to grow without the backing of every writer who enters. I'm grateful to all of you (more details in my notes at the end).

Chris Fielden Thumbs Up To Hull And Back

Me, looking special in Llandovery, giving everyone a THANK YOU FOR ENTERING thumbs up, while on my 'competition reading, judging, deliberating and having a nightmare making a decision because the stories are all too good' trip

If you entered and your name doesn't appear on this page, please don't be disheartened. There were so many excellent stories entered this year that the longlist could easily have had over 100 names on it. I don't reject stories because I don't like them. I simply pick the ones that are best suited to this competition. I'm sure many of the stories entered will go on to be published elsewhere. The vivid characters, excellent story lines and differing styles were a joy a read.

OK, enough waffle from me. Here come the results...

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Winners

Lo, verily and yay, here be the most splendid, original, pioneering and prodigious stories entered into the 2018 contest. These stories scored well consistently across a variety of reading tastes.

Congratulations to all the winners – you have each penned a fable of mirth and legend that will be revered for eternity in the To Hull And Back archive.

1st Prize

Lips, by John Holland

2nd Prize

Grandpa Joe Steps Out, by Aphra Pell

3rd Prize

The Pig, by Pat Winslow

Highly Commended

In alphabetical order:

Fashion in Men’s Footwear - Late 20th Century, by Steven John

Seeds, by Gaynor Jones

Venison, by Richard de Silva

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The Shortlist

Hear ye, hear ye, for here be the superlative word weavers behind the 2018 To Hull And Back shortlisted stories.

The standard of stories entered this year was mind blowingly sterling. Congratulations to each author on the shortlist - you should be prouder than a proud thing that is very proud indeed.

Authors are listed alphabetically, based on forename. The links take you to each author's biography.

Aphra Pell – Grandpa Joe Steps Out

Cathy Cade – After Life

Gaynor Jones – Seeds

Gina Parsons – My Girlfriend’s Handbag

Guy Russell – Building a Bridge

Jason Jackson – 37 Photographs of a Sleeping Lion

John Emms – The Plan

John Holland – Lips

Jonathan Macho – Digi-Man

Karen Jones – The Cheat

Katie Burton – Dream Interrupted

Katy Wimhurst – All for Ella

Leema Ahmed – Humble Begettings

Michele Sheldon – Shadow Legs

Pat Winslow – The Pig

Philip Charter – The Monday Night Club

Rachel McHale – The Curse of the Gigantic Finger

Richard de Silva – Venison

Sherry Morris – Miracles, Mercies and Mary… on Toast

Steven John – Fashion in Men’s Footwear - Late 20th Century

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The Longlist

And hereth thou whilst findeth the splendiferous authors of the To Hull And Back 2018 longlist.

Congratulations to all of them. Their story scribing skills are skilful, skilled and... skilltastic. I'm making words up now. I'll stop there.

Again, authors are listed alphabetically, based on forename, and the links take you to their biographies.

Alex Morrison – The Turnkey

Alison Wray – Back Home

Andrew Perry – Black Coffee, No Milk

Artimidor Federkiel – Writemare

Christopher Brawn – The Galactic Unions of Abductors, Probers and General Invasion Workers

Cindy George – Neville Rides Out

David P Macpherson – The Infinite Monkey Business

Fee Johnstone – Timewasters Need Not Apply

James Woolf – Infidels

Jan Brown – An Unforgivable Act of Generosity

Janet H Swinney – Jesus Wants Us

John Sills – The Visitor

Judith Wilson – Mango Intense Please Mike

Martin Strike – Pisham’s Blenny & Bloater Parfait

Maura Yzmore – The Used-Car Salesman's Niece to Meet Swedish Royalty

Melanie Roussel – Chasing Time

Nastasya Parker – From Newcastle, With Love

Radovana Jágriková – Sick Leave

Will Haynes – 2045: A Love Story

William Reid Schmadeka – The Swamp Drains into R'lyeh

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Special Mentions

This year, I received quite a few entries from young authors and students, just starting out on their writing careers. I like to mention some of them here, because I believe young talent should be encouraged. The writers mentioned show great promise and are already writing excellent stories. I hope they keep studying their craft and go on to great things in the future.

As above, authors are listed alphabetically and links take you to their biographies.

Ilona Bushell – The Dinner Party

Mackenzie Gibson – Hell of a Time

Sarah Williet – Hackneyed Old Phrases That Have Been Used a Gazillion Times Before

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To Hull & Back Winner's Video

The winner's video will be filmed in the spring of 2019, probably around April / May time. It will appear here when it has been filmed and edited.

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Shortlist Author Biographies

Below you will find photos and biographies of the shortlisted writers.

Aphra Pell (Australia)

Aphra Pell

Aphra was born slightly too long ago in the UK, in a dilapidated cottage with dogs and cats, and a lot of books. She now lives in Australia in a disorganised bungalow, with a husband and a large number of rats. There are still a lot of books.

Aphra splits her time between science academia, writing for clients and writing fiction. Day jobs include teaching palaeontology and writing ad copy for romance novels. Despite these qualifications she has yet to produce any dinosaur erotica.

You can find out more about her writing on her website, or follow her on twitter @AphraPell for a large number of posts about small furry animals, large furry animals, and animals that aren’t furry at all.

Cathy Cade (UK)

Cathy Cade

Catherine Cade is a retired librarian. Apart from rhyming treasure hunt clues at Christmas, her only writing prior to retirement was for student instruction leaflets and annual reports for governors.

Lacking the challenge of annual reports she turned, in retirement, to a different kind of fiction, encouraged by winning third prize in a Scribble magazine competition. Her writing has been published (again) in Scribble, having been placed in last year’s short story competition. Stories have also been shortlisted in Bird’s Nest Books’ short story competition and longlisted in the National Literacy Trust’s 2017 competition.

When not exploring the UK in a vintage motorhome with her husband and dogs, she divides her time between an urban fringe of Epping Forest and the Cambridgeshire Fens where she maintains two garden ponds. This involves her, as a novice, in extensive internet research and much trial-and-error – both for pond keeping and writing.

www.cathy-cade.com

Gaynor Jones (UK)

Gaynor Jones

Gaynor Jones is a freelance writer based in the North West. She specialises in short fiction and in June 2018 she won the Mairtín Crawford Short Story Award. She runs the Story For Daniel flash fiction competition to raise awareness of blood stem cell donation.

Gina Parsons (UK)

Gina Parsons

Gina Parsons is a writer based in Brighton where she lives with her family. She has a PGCert with Distinction in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester and is currently fine-tuning a range of short stories while avoiding the shitty first draft of her novel.

You can find her on Twitter @LittleBookishHQ

Guy Russell (UK)

Guy Russell

Guy Russell was born in Chatham and has been a holiday courier, purchasing clerk, media analyst and fan-heater production operative. He currently lives in Milton Keynes. Work in Brace (Comma), Troubles Swapped For Something Fresh (Salt), Madame Morte (Black Shuck), The Iron Book of New Humorous Verse (Iron), Flash 500, Liars’ League and elsewhere.

Jason Jackson (UK)

Jason Jackson

Jason Jackson's prize-winning writing has been published extensively online and in print. In 2018 Jason has won the Writers Bureau competition, come second (for the second year running) in the Exeter Short Story competition, been runner-up in the Frome Short Story competition and had work short-listed at the Leicester Writes competition. His work has also appeared this year in New Flash Fiction Review, Craft and Fictive Dream. In 2017 he was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Jason regularly tweets @jj_fiction

John Emms (UK)

John Emms

After a career got in the way, John Emms found time to write again after retiring. Since then a number of short stories and articles, usually humour based, have featured in various publications. He has also, bizarrely, published a lengthy but entertaining (honestly...) history of local government lawyers. He also writes plays, a few of the shorter of which have won prizes or been selected for performance at a variety of venues around Yorkshire and Lancs.

John Holland (UK)

John Holland

John Holland is a prize-winning short fiction writer from Stroud in Gloucestershire in the UK. As well as winning and being short listed in contests, his work has appeared in many anthologies, magazines and online. John likes to take his stories on the road and has read/performed in London, Bristol, Bath, Cheltenham (including at the Literature Festival), Worcester, Coleford, his home town of Stroud and, of course, Hawkesbury Upton. He prefers his audiences to be drunk.

His website is www.johnhollandwrites.com

John is also the organiser of the twice-yearly live lit event, Stroud Short Stories.

Jonathan Macho (UK)

Jonathan Macho

Jonathan Macho is a Scanner/Writer who lives in Cardiff with his family, his neighbour's cat and a seriously legit talking space raccoon. He's been published in quite a few short story anthologies now, including two prior To Hull And Back humour anthologies (2015 and 2016), the first and third issues of 404 INK’s literary magazine, and his short story 'The Two Brigadiers' was given to subscribers of the Lethbridge-Stewart range and can be read for free as part of The Lucy Wilson Collection. He has also had short plays put on by the Sherman Youth Theatre in Cardiff and been shortlisted in the Terry Hetherington Young Writer’s Award 2017. Some days, he scans things too.

Karen Jones (UK)

Karen Jones

Karen Jones is a prose writer from Glasgow with a preference for flash and short fiction. She has been successful in various writing competitions including Mslexia, Flash 500, Words With Jam, New Writer, Writers’ Forum, Writers’ Bureau and Ad Hoc Fiction. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines and ezines, most recently in Nottingham Review, Lost Balloon and Reflex Fiction. Stories have been printed in anthologies including Bath Short Story Award, To Hull And Back, The Wonderful World of Worders and Bath Flash Fiction. In 2014 she published a short story collection, The Upside-Down Jesus and other stories. She recently judged The Federation of Writers (Scotland) Flash Fiction Competition and was a reader for TSS Publishing.

Katie Burton (UK)

Katie Burton

Katie Burton is a Londoner through and through. Having graduated from UCL with a BA in history and no idea what to do next, she worked in an old-fashioned sweet shop before making the grave error of becoming a corporate solicitor.

Last year, she got married, quit her job, re-trained as a journalist and now writes whatever she can, for whoever she can.

Her proudest achievement is proposing to her now-husband on the top of a mountain in a fit of feminism and gin. She writes book reviews of fantasy literature at Fantasy Literature and she writes a blog, Nothing if not a Hypocrite.

Katy Wimhurst (UK)

Katy Wimhurst

Katy Wimhurst read social anthropology before doing research on Mexican Surrealism. She has also worked in academic publishing, but now has a chronic illness.

She writes fiction and non-fiction and has been published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Guardian, The Puritan, To Hull And Back 2017, Black Pear Press, Magic Oxygen Literary Prize (MOLP4), Fabula Press, Ouen Press, Patrician Press, Cafe Irreal, Serendipity, Bust Down the Doors and Eat All the Chickens, and The Casket of Fictional Delights. She won the Earlyworks Short Story Prize 2017 and the Tate Modern short story competition TH2058.

She interviews short story writers for www.theshortstory.co.uk and other literary magazines, and has a particular interest in magical realism and surrealism. In a past life she might have been Salvador Dali’s moustache and she’d like to be reincarnated as one of Russell Hoban’s long-lost dreams. She has a soft spot for myth, magic, mongrels and mudflats.

Leema Ahmed (UK)

Leema Ahmed

I am a Mancunian who went to London for medical school and then came back, fiancé in tow, to finish my training as an older adults' psychiatrist. I have also completed a Masters in mental health law, a related area that I am quite interested in.

This is my first foray into creative writing. I am, so far, genre neutral, though an element of silliness seems always to pollute my ponderings. My ambition is to write about the kind of things that cause pain and explore them in a way that makes them lighter.

Michele Sheldon (UK)

Michele Sheldon

Michele’s short stories have been published in a diverse range of anthologies including Stories for Homes, and magazines including Rosebud, Storgy and Here Comes Everyone.

Pat Winslow (UK)

Pat Winslow

Pat Winslow has had seven poetry collections published, most recently Kissing Bones, Unpredictable Geometry and Dreaming of Walls Repeating Themselves, all with Templar Poetry. Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies and magazines and she is currently exploring the possibility of writing a libretto for an opera.

Further information is available on Pat's website. Pat also blogs here.

Philip Charter (Spain)

Philip Charter

Philip Charter is a writer who lives and works in Pamplona, Spain. He is tall, enjoys travel, and runs the imaginatively named website Tall Travels. He spends a lot of time explaining the difference between 'fun' and 'funny' to his students, who occasionally refer to him as one of them.

Rachel McHale (UK)

Rachel McHale

I wrote my first novel when I was six years old. The Amazing Panda Roo Roo was a big hit with my audience of Mum and Dad. It was self-illustrated and stapled together on the right-hand side because I am a proud left-hander.

Eleven Bodies, the young adult novel I'm a currently working on, was shortlisted for the Yeovil Literary Prize 2017 and was awarded 2nd place in the Soaring Stories Competition at the Winchester Writers' Festival 2017. I am also a prize-winning short story writer, and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2017. I have a particular interest in speculative fiction.

When I'm not moonlighting as a writer, I work as a nurse, and daydream about snow and skiing. I am currently studying for a Masters in Creative Writing in the beautiful city of York, UK.

Richard de Silva (UK)

Richard de Silva

Richard de Silva was born and raised in South-East London.

He studied at Kingston University, earning a degree in Creative Writing and a Master’s Degree in Film, while also lecturing in Scriptwriting.

His career has taken him to unexpected places, including BBC headquarters, a windowless office at Westminster Cathedral and a military base in Saudi Arabia. He is currently a managing editor at a digital company in London. His stories have appeared in The River and Ripple Literary Anthology.

He lives in the Chilterns with his wife and son.

Sherry Morris (UK)

Sherry Morris

Originally from Missouri, America’s heartland, Sherry writes monologues, short stories and flash fiction which have won prizes, placed on shortlists and been performed in London and Scotland.

After 17 years in London working as a university administrator, Sherry moved to a farm in the Scottish Highlands where she goes for long walks, watches clouds and dreams up stories. Her first publication appeared in A Small Key Opens Big Doors and reflects on her Peace Corps experience in Ukraine during the early 1990’s.

Her published stories can be found on www.uksherka.com or follow her @Uksherka.

Steven John (UK)

Steven John

Steven lives in The Cotswolds, UK, and writes flash, short stories and poetry. He’s had work published in pamphlets and online magazines including Riggwelter, Reflex Fiction, Fictive Dream, Cabinet of Heed and Former Cactus. In 2017, Steve won the inaugural Farnham Short Story Competition and has won Bath Ad Hoc five times.

Steve has read at Cheltenham Poetry Festival, Stroud Short Stories, Bard of Hawkwood and Flasher’s Club.

Twitter: @StevenJohnWrite

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Longlist Author Biographies

Below are the biographies and photos of the longlisted writers.

Alex Morrison (UK)

Alex Morrison

Alex was a journalist for a decade, starting out in local newspapers and spending four years as a reporter for the BBC News website. He now writes about science for the University of Exeter.

He is seeking representation for his first novel and has had stories shortlisted for competitions including the Brighton Prize, the Writers Bureau Short Story Competition and the Frome Festival Short Story Competition. He lives in Devon and is attempting to raise two unruly toddlers. He is on Twitter @alexmorrison81

Alison Wray (UK)

Alison Wray

Alison Wray grew up in London, spent many years in York, and now lives in South-East Wales. Although she has published a great deal of academic non-fiction, she is relatively new to creative writing. She has been shortlisted for several UK short story and flash fiction competitions, and four of her stories have been published in competition anthologies.

When she is not writing, she is singing or playing the recorder, or, if there is nothing else to distract her, putting a few hours into her day job at Cardiff University, where she is currently completing a book on dementia communication.

Andrew Perry (UK)

Andrew Perry

Andrew is an estranged Northerner with a funny accent, now living in London. He is a writer of fiction, comic books and children’s poetry. He also produces Cyber Security guides. You can read more about him at www.andrewmarkperry.com.

Artimidor Federkiel (Austria)

Artimidor Federkiel

Born as a writer, I went on to study Philosophy, Communication Arts and the School of Life. Consequently I turned software developer of sales management systems, where my creativity was firmly held in check - or was kept seething like in a pressure cooker, depending how one wants to look at it.

Despite my penchant for fantasy, my writing often transcends genres and oscillates between absurd hilarity and existential depth. I enjoy writing comic fantasy, but dabble in serious fiction likewise and have written the odd fairy tale too, refusing with steadfast determination to be pigeonholed in a specific category. I'm way larger and more unwieldy than a pigeon anyway, and cannot fly without a plane ticket.

Currently, I'm in the final stages of completing my novel Stopover at World's End, a comic fantasy romp of apocalyptic proportions. Be there - the world only ends once!

Christopher Brawn (UK)

Christopher Brawn

I was born in 1967. I’m married to Tracy and have 4 daughters. I was born in Northampton but now live in Doncaster.

When I live in the real world, I work at a specialist college for people with hearing impairments, people with autism and people with other communication problems. When I'm not in the real world I write stories.

This is me in words: Science, astronomy, conspiracy theories, the unexplained, daydreamer, air crash investigations, films, sign language, science-fiction, family, stories.

Cindy George (UK)

Cindy George

Cindy George is an author, copywriter, teacher and journalist living in Coventry. She worked in radio advertising for many years, and still knows exactly how long it will take you to read something aloud (especially if terms and conditions apply). She has a BA in Linguistics, an MA in Writing, and an award from the World Health Organisation for promoting public health and hygiene. She has two cats which are no use for anything at all.

David P Macpherson (UK)

David P Macpherson

David P Macpherson is an author, screenwriter and performance poet. He grew up in the wilds of the Highlands of Scotland and now lives in Edinburgh. In the past he has worked in an industrial grain dryer, an MP’s constituency office, the House of Lords, the Police and a swimming pool, but not necessarily in that order. His favourite activities include scouring second hand bookshops, going to the cinema in the middle of the day, being licked in the face by puppies and saying hello to Jason Isaacs.

His first novel, Here Be Dragons, was published in April 2018 and is available on Kindle. You can follow him on Twitter via @David_Mac13 and you can follow him in real life with a good set of binoculars. He is uncomfortable talking about himself in the third person so he's going to stop now. There, that's better.

Fee Johnstone (UK)

Fee Johnstone

I reside in Scotland and enjoy writing short stories and flash fiction. I have had work published in various independent zines including Paper and Ink, Razur Cuts, Ellipsis Zine and Glove Magazine. Recently, I had a piece published in Nothing Is As It Was, a charity anthology to raise awareness of climate change.

I have a story scheduled for F, M or Other, an anthology on gender, and I came third in the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize 2016, but still believe this to be an admin error. I'm currently working on plans to teach my cats to pour the perfect stout so as to combine my love for my feline friends and craft beer.

James Woolf (UK)

James Woolf

James’s short stories have been shortlisted in various competitions including the Bridport Short Story Prize and Exeter Writers Short Story Prize. He was highly commended in the London Short Story Prize and placed second in the Greenacre short story competition. His work has been published in Ambit, Village Square Journal, Kingston University Press, Disclaimer, Cabinet of Heed and Cafe Aphra. He completed his first novel last year and also writes plays which have appeared in London theatres. He lives in London with his partner and daughters.

Website.

Twitter.

Jan Brown (UK)

Jan Brown

Jan Brown is fumbling her way towards creative writing rather later in life than she hoped, rediscovering the imagination knocked out of her by formal education. She admits to being overly fond of exclamation marks and elisions but is learning fast... So far, she has earned two small but appreciated successes and a reputation for ruthless editing of friends' work.

Janet H Swinney (UK)

Janet H Swinney

Ten of my stories have appeared in print anthologies, with another one, ‘Political Events Have Taken a Turn’, pending (Earlyworks Press 2018). 'The Map of Bihar’ (Earlyworks Press, UK and Hopewell Publications, USA) was nominated for the Eric Hoffer prize for prose 2013. 'The Work of Lesser-Known Artists' was a runner-up in the London Short Story Competition 2014 and appeared in Flamingo Land (Flight Press, 2015). The 'Queen of Campbeltown' appeared in The Ball of the Future (Earlyworks Press 2016).

Several other stories have appeared in online literary journals based in India including ‘The Wrong Question’ which appeared in the Bombay Literary Magazine in January 2017.

‘A Tadge to Your Left’ was shortlisted in the Ilkley Literature Festival 2017 and will shortly appear on the website of the Word Factory. 'Washing Machine Wars' received a special mention in the Fabula Press (Nivalis) competition, July 2017 and 'Oculus' was shortlisted by 87 Bedford in 2016.

I have two collections of short fiction in progress, one a series of linked short stories set in the North East of England, the other set in India. I am also working on a play based on the short stories of Saadat Hasan Manto.

www.janethswinney.com

John Sills (UK)

John Sills

John is, like most writers, addicted to people watching. He particularly enjoys writing about those wonderful moments of humorous human behaviour seen during his weekday commute.

Judith Wilson (UK)

Judith Wilson

Judith Wilson is a London-based writer and journalist. She’s also the author of 14 non-fiction books on interiors. She loves writing short stories and in the last year has won the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition 2017, the Fabula Press Short Story Contest 2017 and the Retreat West Short Story Prize 2016, as well as being shortlisted for the Bath Short Story Award 2017. She has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award 2018.

Judith is an alumna of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course and is completing her first novel. Although she lives in London, she was raised in Liverpool and often pines for the north west - so she writes obsessively about Liverpool's urban landscapes and waterfronts at any opportunity. When she’s not in London, Judith is most likely to be found in Cornwall, staring out to sea. She is married with two grown-up children.

Martin Strike (UK)

Martin Strike

When Martin was 5 - the year before he fell in the playground while imitating a dolphin and broke his nose in full view of a nun - his grandmother told him that he would be a writer when he grew up.

49 years on and Martin has achieved that prediction, albeit on a hobbyist basis, though I don’t suppose either he or his grandmother had To Hull And Back in mind in 1968. Martin rues how his life could have been different had his gran prophesied great wealth, athleticism or his being hung like a rhino.

As to what he will do when he grows up is anyone’s guess but, in the meantime, Martin writes short stories that make him smirk and posts them on his blog, The Newbury Short Story Teller.

Maura Yzmore (USA)

Maura Yzmore

Maura Yzmore writes short-form literary and speculative fiction, as well as humor. She lives with her family in the American Midwest and teaches some math-heavy subjects to college students. You can find out more about her writing at www.maurayzmore.com or on Twitter @MauraYzmore.

Melanie Roussel (UK)

Melanie Roussel

I grew up in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, which is a quaint and quiet little market town. It has its oddities, like a castle which isn't really there and a totem pole overlooking the Grand Union Canal. After university, I moved to North London, which is neither quaint nor quiet.

I've been writing all my life, boring my family rigid with my stories. I mostly write sci-fi and fantasy and I'm just about to launch a blog all about Speculative Fiction. I'm a member of the London Writers' Café, which is a wonderfully supportive group. Last year, I was long-listed for the 2017 To Hull And Back competition for my story 'Rock ‘n’ Revelation' which blew me away and convinced me I might just be a writer after all.

Discovering the To Hull And Back Anthology back in 2015 showed me there are others out there who love gallows humour as much as I do. In this insane world, here’s to all the writers who help us to laugh.

Nastasya Parker (UK)

Nastasya Parker

Nastasya Parker writes contemporary literary fiction, including two stories published in Bristol Short Story Prize anthologies and two read at Stroud Short Stories events. In 2017, she won the Gloucestershire Writers Network Prose Prize, reading at Cheltenham Literature Festival. Mostly, though, she works on novels because she can’t bear to part with her characters too quickly.

She studies spreadsheets at her full-time office job, and learns philosophy from her teenage son. Her blog, www.nastasyaparker.com, celebrates the bits and pieces encountered in daily life which sometimes grow into stories. She doesn't always wear turkey hats, but when she does, it probably means something really tasty's in the oven.

Radovana Jágriková (Belgium)

Radovana Jágriková

Radovana Jágriková (Radka) has been writing short stories, with shorter or longer breaks, from her early teens, later adding journalistic, academic and marketing writing into the mix. She very much enjoys communication and storytelling in various forms.

She was the runner-up in the British Czech and Slovak Association's 2013 writing competition, won the Sentinel Annual Short Story Competition 2014 and the To Hull And Back Short Story Competition 2015 (where she got invited as one of the judges in 2016), and got published in Shooter Literary Magazine #7 in 2018.

She is currently based in Brussels, where she is trying to find more time for her writing. She is originally from Slovakia and has also previously lived in the Netherlands and England.

Will Haynes (UK)

Will Haynes

WILL HAYNES: INTERIM REPORT OF AUTOPSY

The deceased was a 37 year-old male with a history of writing very little yet nonetheless rewarding himself by often ordering the most expensive thing on the menu stuffed with the second most expensive thing, a tenuous incentive-reward scheme that never paid off.

Stubbornness was diagnosed upon his birth in 1980. Delusions of grandeur the moment he began to speak. To shut him up, a revolutionary physician later discovered a miracle breakthrough: feeding him a roast pig stuffed with a cow, stuffed with a rather intelligent goose. This long-term diet of animal within animal stuffed with a fatter and better educated animal is the most probable factor for his sudden cardiac arrest, although multiple cranial injuries suggest a blunt force trauma, possibly a hammer, may have been the actual cause of death.

It must be noted that the deceased has one extraordinary talent that defies all laws of God, nature and man, and it is here that his stubbornness is truly evident. The deceased insists that, in spite of the obvious, he is 'absolutely fine' and to 'please stop hitting me with that hammer'.

The corpse, frustratingly, makes continued demands for apple sauce.

William Reid Schmadeka (USA)

William Reid Schmadeka

William Reid is an unapologetic nerd. When not writing, reading fantasy and speculative fiction, playing D&D or watching the latest sci-fi show, he is the stay-at-home dad of three rambunctious kids. He lives in Seattle and is only happy when it rains, thank you very much.

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Special Mention Author Biographies

Below are the biographies of some incredibly talented students.

Ilona Bushell (UK)

Ilona Bushell

Ilona is a 21-year-old student from Essex. She has always been interested in telling stories and, from an early age, would delight her family with tales on long walks. More recently, she has written about her experiences living in Austria, as well as turning her hand to (slightly) less fictional writing in the student paper. 'The Dinner Party' marks a return to fiction, and encompasses her love for food, walking, and revenge.

Mackenzie Gibson (USA)

Mackenzie Gibson

I am an eighteen year-old recent graduate of Elkhart High School. I was raised in the small town of Elkhart, Kansas. Although I grew up in rural America, I am very city oriented with a more open view on certain things than others in my little town.

I've been writing since the sixth grade and only recently started to get my name out there in publication and recognition. I even plan to go to Wichita State University next fall and major in Creative Writing.

Sarah Williet (UK)

Sarah Williet

Sarah is a twenty year old student from East Yorkshire currently studying an English and Creative Writing Degree in the fantabulous (and very cultural) city of Hull. This is her first short story and first biography, evident in the fact that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. In fact, she appeared on the degree course almost entirely by accident after taking a year out. She told everyone that this was to travel but was actually because she had no idea how to adult properly and wanted to forestall that as much as possible. She had in fact gained a place to study an Equine degree (yes, that means horses) but had a slight problem with remaining on board said equines for any sustained period and decided that writing about horses was similar but without the acrobatic stunts. Sarah has enjoyed reading and writing all her life and in the future would love to go on to publish her own work.

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The Judges

Here are some details about the 2018 To Hull And Back judges.

All the judges are published short story writers. Some of them are members of the writing group I belong to in Bristol – Stokes Croft Writers. Crystal and Mike are both previous winners of the To Hull And Back competition.

The judging works like this: I bang on about how many stories I have to read until everyone is bored of listening to me, myself included. Then I go off gallivanting in my mobile writing office and read the stories. This is always a very enjoyable experience.

To Hull And Back Mobile Writing Office

The To Hull And Back mobile writing office, parked up in Ceredigion, Wales

Eventually, after much deliberation, procrastination and hair-the-pulling-out-of, I make tough decisions and the longlist and shortlist are born. The shortlist is then sent to the judging panel, who go through the same process I just described independently. They let me know their results. I then collate them in my 'Spreadsheet of Answers' and a winner is decreed.

The judges give their time for free. I'd like to say a huge thank you to all of them for their assistance. I could not do this without you amazing, crazy, creative, fun-loving mentalists.

Christie Cluett

Christie Cluett

Christie writes comedy fiction and is currently making the final edits to her first novel, a dark comedy about anxiety and trying to be normal. She's one of the founding members of Stokes Croft Writers, excels at improvised nonsense and is learning to fly.

Christie's comments on judging the competition:

I'm excited and honoured to be judging To Hull And Back for another year. It's a cliche, which Chris hates (little tip), but the entries really do get better every year. This year, the stories were inventive and charming, and my favourites were the ones with subtle humour told in an original way. Good luck to everyone who entered and roll on next year.

Christopher Fielden

Christopher Fielden

I started running the To Hull And Back short story competition in 2013. When I launched it, I thought, This is mental, no one will enter, I won't have to ride to Hull.

I was right about one thing. It is mental.

The mathematicians among you will have concluded that only 33% of my assumptions were correct. Sadly, this level of accuracy seems to apply to all of my life decisions, which is probably why I have no money.

Since launching the competition, I've made the journey to Hull on the hog four times. That's about 2,000 miles with a book strapped to my bike, getting strange looks from other road users. See? Mental.

I plan to run this bad boy until I die. For a slightly podgy middle-aged man, my health isn't that bad, so To Hull And Back will probably be around for a while yet.

If you want to know more about me, my About page contains more information than anyone could possibly want to know.

Chris's comments on judging the competition:

See the notes section below.

Crystal Jeans

Crystal Jeans

Crystal Jeans is the author of The Vegetarian Tigers of Paradise (Honno Press), which was shortlisted for the Polari Prize 2017, and Light Switches are My Kryptonite (also Honno), which won Wales Book of the Year in the English fiction category. She lives in Cardiff with a small blonde gremlin.

Crystal's comments on judging the competition:

Excellent selection here, was really tough choosing the best. Luckily I enjoy judging people. The hardest part was choosing between stories that were brilliantly written but not hilarious, and those that were funny but not as well-executed. Many managed both. All were fab reads. Well done, shortlistees.

Edward Field

Edward Field

Ed has spent much of 2018 writing, editing, judging, shortlisting and being highly commended and published, some of which may even be deserved. In common with a few of the writers who entered To Hull And Back 2018, this year has involved a healthy amount of cannibalism and murder. He is not currently admitting to specific instances but has become something of an expert at digging and is particularly proud of his tomato crop this year.

A more complete bio can be found on the pages of Chris Fielden’s most excellent website, as well as Ed’s own: www.squircle.me

Ed's comments on judging the competition:

It’s been a mixed bag of experiences judging this year’s competition. Humour is such a subjective issue. Just look at Donald Trump; on a daily basis, quite frankly I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

At the time of writing this, I have no idea whether the other judges share my opinions on the winning stories. For me, I had three very clear winners and a fourth that was just a sigh or careless typo away from crashing the party. Whether, when the results are announced, I’ll be chuckling with delight or grinding my teeth in horror that the others don’t share my view of the stories’ brilliance remains to be seen. But, anonymous authors, know this: I really enjoyed those four stories (and a few others) enough to read them several times.

I think the real joy in judging a short story or flash fiction competition is the possibility of reading something genuinely original, being hooked by a phrase or sculpture of words that stands out enough to be scribbled down, or wandering into a yarn that moves, repulses or thoroughly entertains me. And just occasionally, a story comes along that does all of the above. That’s what I take from the judging process.

Mark Rutterford

Mark Rutterford

Mark Rutterford is very confused. He doesn’t know whether he is more writer or performer. If his emotions are more 13 year-old girl or a man raising his bat at reaching a half-century. Whether he should submit more for publication or for performance. If he should be focusing on short stories or novels. Whether he is a man or if he is an alien. So much a romantic it might be classified as a hidden-disability or whether that is his source of strength and inspiration.

So… Mark is all of these things, all at once – no wonder he is confused. To try and work things out, Mark writes and performs his stories around the South West of England.

Find out more on Mark’s website: www.markrutterford.com

Or chat on Twitter @writingsett

Mark's comments on judging the competition:

Humour – such a subjective thing. Humorous writing doubly so.

But this year I was reminded, in a rather lovely way, that humour is as diverse and as complex as any cross-section of the population – even if we call this sample a shortlist. Some laughs out loud, oh yes. Some wry smiles at precise observations that made my toes curl. Some quirky structures and themes and characters in some pretty unique circumstances too – bravo to them all. And some poignancy as well. I hadn’t expected that – I liked it.

So huge thanks and many congratulations to all those who made the shortlist – what an achievement. It was a pleasure reading your work.

And huge thanks and a peerage to Lord Christopher Fielden… of Hull I presume.

Mel Ciavucco

Mel Ciavucco

Mel Ciavucco is a freelance writer from the UK. She is a blogger, fiction writer, screenwriter, editor and vlogger. Mel is passionate about writing stories that challenge social norms, showcase diverse characters and contain realistic portrayals of mental health. She believes that sharing our stories and stepping out of our comfort zones makes us all better human beings.

She writes about body positivity and gender equality on her personal blog: www.melciavucco.weebly.com

Mel has a YouTube series about body image and self-esteem:
www.youtube.com/channel/UCIla_BUCd-VCr4o6lGiOXCg

Twitter: @MCiavucco

Facebook: www.facebook.com/melciavuccowriter

Instagram: www.instagram.com/melciavucco

Mel's comments on judging the competition:

Another year, another wonderful 20 shortlisted stories. I always look forward to judging To Hull And Back. Such a range of stories – you never know what you’re going to get, but the standard is always high.

It amazes me how humour can be translated in so many different ways, from subtle amusement to laugh out loud one-liners. This year, I especially enjoyed the heart-felt stories with underlying tones of humour. It’s a real accomplishment to be able to make a reader laugh and cry in the same story.

Thank you and congratulations to all the shortlisted writers, and to Chris for continuing to run the most awesome short story writing competition in the world.

Mike Scott Thomson

Mike Scott Thomson

Mike Scott Thomson has been a writer of fiction-on-the-shorter-side since 2011. Before that, he dallied with travel writing, blogs, and commissioned biographies of various popular beat combos. (In a gloriously random turn of events, these then became commercially available as audiobooks.)

His short stories have appeared in various publications such as The Fiction Desk, Prole, Litro, Stories for Homes, and an anthology from the National Flash Fiction Day. Competition wins or placings include those from Inktears, Writers' Village, Momaya Press, and Chris’s own To Hull And Back competition in its inaugural year. (His avatar still sits proudly upon the Hog of issue 1.) He now wants to give fiction-on-the-longer-side a go, and this time actually finish something.

Website: www.mikescottthomson.com

Twitter: @michaelsthomson

Mike's comments on judging the competition:

Summing up this year's selection has been the hardest yet; the standard really has been that good. That said, once I'd read them and re-read them, I was happy with my own rankings of the stories. It has reaffirmed in my own mind a couple of the criteria I look for to be entertained by a morsel of specifically comic fiction.

Firstly, is the story told through a straight face? To my mind, humour works best when it doesn't seem to be trying too hard.

Secondly, does the story still work if the reader doesn't find it funny? A story that hinges too much upon gags, or a punchline, runs somewhat at a risk. Personally, there were some yarns in the selection which didn't tickle either of my funny bones, but I still ranked those highly as they were nonetheless brilliantly told.

All in all, being involved in To Hull And Back again has given me another timely reminder that opinions of all artful things are just that – opinions. Something I'll do well to remember next time any of my own efforts ends up closer to a recycling bin than a shortlist.

Congratulations to the winner: welcome to The Hog Hall of Fame.

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A Few Notes on the 2018 Competition

This year, I received a record number of submissions into the competition. The history of entry numbers looks like this:

  • 2018: 456 (+97)
  • 2017: 359 (+75)
  • 2016: 284 (+68)
  • 2015: 216 (+122)
  • 2014: 94

The early bird fee made the reading more manageable this year. At the end of April 2018, I'd received 208 entries, compared to 124 entries in 2017. This accounts for 84 of the extra 97 entries this year, which has made the growth manageable.

The flow of submissions from May through to July was also more steady, so I managed to stay on top of the reading until July. Still, there was a big influx of entries as the closing date approached. 187 in the final month, 110 in the final week, 38 on the final day. Last year, it was 170 in the final month, 100 in the final week and 26 on the final day. So similar(ish).

I know I say this every year, but I am NOT complaining about the amount of entries I receive – it’s fantastic that so many people enter and support the competition. I'm extremely grateful and hope the number of entries continues to grow in the future. I simply share these stats because I find them interesting and it helps me find better ways of managing the reading process.

This year, I went to Wales to undertake the reading and judging.

I visited my friends, Alison, Jim and Jackson, in Northwich. While I was there, Jackson drew me.

Chris Fielden by Jackson

'I'm Chris, of Course I Love My Face', by Jackson

Got to say, he nailed it. Especially the amount of wrinkles. Thanks, Jackson...

After being deeply traumatised by Jackson's artwork, I headed to Ceibwr Bay in Pembrokeshire to recover.

Ceibwr Bay

Ceibwr Bay, Pembrokeshire, Wales

I spent a night there and then headed to Mwnt, in Ceredigion, just north of Cardigan.

Mwnt

Mwnt, Ceredigion, Wales

I did most of the reading in this location, then went to the Cambrian Mountains to make decisions.

The Cambrian Mountains

The Cambrian Mountains, Wales

The quality of the stories entered this year was staggering. I particularly enjoyed the inventiveness and use of imagination behind many of them – there were so many fresh ideas and storylines that I hadn't seen before. Reading them was inspiring.

I haven't made many changes to the 2019 competition. I decided to keep the word limit at 2,500. If necessary, I may drop the limit to 2,000 words in future years, just to help manage the reading. For now, it stays the same.

Here are the changes I did make.

  • Prize pot increased from £2,250 to £2,750:
    • First: £1,000
    • Second: £500
    • Third: £250
    • 3 x Highly Commended: £100 (up from £50)
    • 14 x Shortlisted: £50 (up from £25)
  • Increased entry fees, to help cover the bigger prize pot and maintain growth:
    • Early-bird entry fee – if you enter the competition before 30th April, you will pay £11 for one story, £18 for two stories, £22 for three stories
    • If you enter between 1st May and 31st July, you will pay £13 for one story, £21 for two stories, £26 for three stories

I hope I'm not putting people off entering by increasing the fee every year. It's simply so I can increase the prize money for all the published writers, cover the costs and make the competition more prestigious.

Overall, I’m hoping the competition will break even again this year, but a small loss is possible (as always, it depends on anthology sales). Prizes are first £1,000, second £500 and third £250, 3 x runner-up prizes of £50 and 14 x shortlist prizes of £25 – total is £2,250. Other costs include PayPal charges, video production costs, admin costs, website maintenance costs, costs of publishing the anthology, advertising costs, the costs of putting on a book launch and, of course, the epic journey to Hull and back.

All the judges, artists and everyone else involved with the competition continue to give their time for free, which I appreciate greatly.

As I mentioned, next year’s competition will have an increased prize pot. Last year, I increased the 2nd and 3rd prize, so I decided to concentrate on the 14 lower prizes this year. This means everyone that is published in the anthology will receive a bit more cash. Next year, if the competition continues to attract more entries, I will have to decide whether to up the top prize, or up the lower 14 prizes again. Something to think about... we'll see what happens.

As I’ve said before, the long-term aim is to provide a five figure top prize to help the competition become more widely known and give humorous short stories a respected publishing platform to be celebrated from. I’m continuing to explore the possibility of sponsorship. Maybe one day...

Entries this year came from an increasing number of locations around our fabulous planet. They include: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Romania, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, USA and Wales.

This year, the number of writers who disobeyed the rules dropped substantially, to 37 (7% of the 456 entries) from 102 (28% of the 359 entries in 2017), which is great. Unfortunately, I still had to disqualify 16 stories, which is more than last year (11). Most of these were either over the word count limit, or failed to obey any of the rules.

If you weren’t longlisted or shortlisted this year, please don’t be disheartened. Each year there are more entries but the same number of places on the short and longlist. I don't reject stories because I don't like them. I simply select the stories that are best suited to this competition.

The judging process is highly subjective. Many of the stories entered will go on to be published elsewhere. If you haven’t been successful in this competition, keep on submitting those excellent stories. If you keep your work under consideration, you will enjoy success.

That’s it. Year five is done and dusted. To Hull And Back is half a decade old. I've read hundreds of stories. I've laughed a lot. I've been inspired, surprised and delighted by some brilliant writing. Thank you to everyone who has entered. I can't tell you how much your support means to me without sounding like an overly sentimental knobhead. But it really does mean a lot. Honest.

Cheers me dears, Chris.

The Anthology & Book Launch

The 2018 To Hull And Back Anthology book launch party will take place on Saturday 8th December in conjunction with Talking Tales at the Left Bank, 128 Cheltenham Rd, Bristol BS6 5RW, UK at 6.30pm.

Everyone is welcome to attend, so please do come along. I will do a write up of the event once it has taken place.

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Your comments:

Helen C
Congratulations to everybody who made it onto all the above lists. I'm sure we're going to have another splendid anthology.

Chris Fielden
Thanks very much, Helen :-)

Hope all is good with you!

Helen C
All is well indeed.

You've used an exclamation mark. I am now informing the police that you’ve been kidnapped and are sending secret messages for help.

Chris Fielden
I apologise... a moment of weakness. Maybe I'll start using them in my stories too? NO, NEVER.

Will H
Thanks very much, Chris. Look forward to reading it at Hulloween!

Chris Fielden
Awesomeness, thanks Will :-)

John H
Oh, thanks, Chris. That's fabulous news.

Thank you too for all the incredible work you put into this. As I've edited and published the SSS Anth (launch date 28 Sept). I know just how much work there is in creating an anthology. And yours is bigger (oo, er, missus).

Great too to see two stories in the short/long lists which were read at the last SSS event (in May) and which are in our new anthology. Those by Steve Wheeler and Nastasya Parker.

Woo hooo!

Chris Fielden
No problem, John. It’s a lot of work, but well worth it. Lots of fun to run.

Oo er Mrs indeed… ‘Of a larger word count,’ would involve less potential for euphemisms. But that would be boring. Bigger indeed :-)

That’s great about the cross over. There are a lot of talented writers in this area, that’s for sure. Let’s hope we discover more as time goes on.

Jonathan M
Really happy to hear you guys enjoyed my story again this year and honoured to be included in another Hull and Back! Can wait to check out the other entries. Thanks as ever for the opportunity, Chris, and hopefully see you at the launch this year! :D

Chris Fielden
No problem, Jonathan. Thanks for entering again - very much appreciated.

Hopefully see you in December!

Antonia T
Well done- I can wait to read this year's edition :)

Chris Fielden
Thanks Antonia :-)

Anne C
Great job and positive for all writers! Love it!!! You are contagious and I want to catch whatever it is you have!!!

Chris Fielden
Thanks, Anne. Well, let’s hope that whatever I have is infectious :-)

Dave M
Congratulations to all those who made the lists. While I am a bit disappointed not to have 'made the cut', I am looking forward to having another go for 2019. Nil desperandum.

I'm keeping a close eye on how many stories we need for the challenges to become anthologies. Looking forward (again?) to buying a few - Christmas is coming - and birthdays and Valentines. The wife is going to be so pleased (no flowers by request). Lots of ideas teeming round in my deranged imagination. Keep up the good work Chris,and enjoy your Spanish sojourn.

Chris Fielden
Thanks very much, Dave.

I suspect the New Year will see a few new writing challenge books going into production. And I'm planning to get at least one new challenge released before Christmas, once my workload has calmed down a bit.

I'll look forward to reading your next Hull story. There were hundreds of great stories this year. I'm sure there will be even more in 2019.

Katie B
Thanks Chris, this is extremely exciting. Can't wait to read all the other stories.

Chris Fielden
No problem, thanks Katie :-)

Leema A
Dear Chris, I just realised that my story 'Humble Begettings' made the 2018 To Hull and Back Short Story competition shortlist. I cannot believe it. I am shaking and will never sleep again.

Thank you, thank you, thank you so much.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Leema – it’s a great story, so well deserved.

I hope you manage to sleep again at some point… :-)

John S
Hi Chris. Many thanks for the update, and for putting me on the longlist! It's actually only the second short story I've ever written, so to know that it was not too shabby is a massive boost, and definitely motivation to get writing more. It will also help me to keep enjoying my commutes with a watchful eye...

Looking forward to reading the winning stories.

Chris Fielden
No problem, thanks John. Glad to hear it’s given you a boost :-)

Martin S
Congratulations to all listees, long and short. Great to see the contest growing like a copper sulphate crystal suspended in a solution of copper sulphate (do they still do this at school?). Take a well-earned rest, Mr Chris. Oh, and a reminder that copper sulphate was once known as 'Blue Vitriol' and the world's production is currently in the region of 275,000 tonnes per YEAR.

Chris Fielden
Thanking you, Doc Martin, for the chemistry lesson and the advice on rest. All taken on board :-)

Tony H
As I stand on the cliff at Beachy Head, looking down into the crashing foam, I realise that I am bereft of any magnanimity towards the winners and unable to keep my disappointment in perspective.

To those lofty of noble spirit, bugger off.

And...

"Goodbye cruel judges..."

Chris Fielden
Don't jump, Tony, except with one's imagination, to swim in the seas of inspiration :-)