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To Hull And Back Short Story Competition Results 2019

Quick links on this page:

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

anthology - book launch - winner's video

I'm pleased to announce the results of the 2019 To Hull And Back Humorous Short Story Competition.

I received 582 entries this year, another large increase compared to previous years. The good news is, growth means more prize money, so the next competition's prize pot has increased for the sixth year running (full details in my notes at the end of the page).

Everyone who enters the competition helps make To Hull And Back more popular, more well-known and more respected within the writing community. Thank you, to each and every one of you. The competition could not continue to grow and become more prestigious without the backing of every writer who enters. I'm grateful to all of you.

Chris Fielden Thumbs Up To Hull And Back Short Story Competition

Me, braving gale-force winds on the Llŷn Peninsula in Wales, giving everyone a THANK YOU FOR ENTERING thumbs up, while on my "competition reading, judging, procrastinating and having a complete 'mare making decisions 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. It was hard enough selecting the final 100, let alone a shortlist of 20. Remember, I don't reject stories because I don't like them, I just pick the ones that are best suited to the To Hull And Back contest. Many of the stories entered will be published elsewhere. Keep submitting those bad girls (a cliché without actually using a cliché – I'm on fire today...).

OK, enough opening waffle. Here are the results...

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It's my pleasure to present the winners of To Hull And Back 2019. These short stories scored consistently well 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 historical archive.

1st Prize

Cassandra's Week, by Alan MacGlas

2nd Prize

Geronimo, by Steve Sheppard

3rd Prize

Rise Above It, by Kiare Ladner

Highly Commended

In alphabetical order:

Breathless, by Eddie Mitra

Exhibit: Woman and Bird, by Karen Jones

Hail Mary, by EJ Robinson

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The Shortlist

Here are the fabulous fabulists who finely formulated the 2019 To Hull And Back shortlisted stories.

The standard of stories entered this year was (consults thesaurus for other words beginning in 'f' and then remembers he hasn't used...) fantastic. Congratulations to each author on the shortlist – you deserve a celebratory tipple or ten.

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

Adrian Hallchurch – Happy and Glorious, Long to Reign over Us

Alan MacGlas – Cassandra's Week

Brandon Robshaw – Book Reviews

Christine Griffin – Driving to Chartres

Dan Purdue – Five Toes, and So On

Eddie Mitra – Breathless

EJ Robinson – Hail Mary

Ian Tucker – With Loves and Hates and Passions Just Like Mine

Julie Bull – Fat Friend

Karen Jones – Exhibit: Woman and Bird

Kathryn Joyce – Surviving Heels

Kiare Ladner – Rise Above It

Louise Elliman – Superboy

Martin Strike – Play Misty For Me

Pat Winslow – The Running Man

Renée Boyer – Sax Appeal

Rob McInroy – The Birth of God

Steve Sheppard – Geronimo

Steven John – Queen of the Mermaids

Susan Bennett – Mister Switzerland

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The Longlist

Listen very carefully. Can you hear them? That's the cacophony of Supreme Imagination Cannons firing 40 times, celebrating the authors of the To Hull And Back 2019 longlist.

Congratulations to all of them. Their stories were phenomenal and I'm sure many of them will be published elsewhere in the future.

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

Alison Cram – Split Infinities

Belinda Forrest – American Gothic

Colin Kerr – Wednesday, First Period

Fee Johnstone – Absolution on the Number 23

Hannah Burnett – The Filing Cabinet

India Watson – Simulation #18,048,731

J. Rosina Harlow – House Spiders

Jake Kendall – The Passionate Ones

Lucy Tertia George – Smoke

Mary Francis – Late Delivery

Maura Yzmore – Rough and Weepy

Melanie Roussel – Passive Resistance

Michael G. Casey – The Brexit Research Team

Nicolas Ridley – Doing What Comes Naturally

Rachael Clarke – L.A.M.E.

Shannon Savvas – Ronnie

Spencer Luster – Enlightenment: The Sound of One Hand Clapping

Stephen Lorriman – A Spot of Light Relief

Teresa Godfrey – Early Retirement

Victoria Mason – My Lemon

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Special Mentions

This year, I received a lot of entries from young authors and students, just starting out on their writing journey. 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.

Abi Jones – The Drunks Visit Jerry ‘The Creepy Goat’s Hearts Guy’

Gianna Ma – Confession of a Theme Park Mascot

Harrison Rolls – Besties

Kiah Olowu – We Weren’t High

Meaghan Henderson – The Crossroads

Natasha Nagle – Exit Nine

Nina Claudia Hessler – The Importance of Feeding Ernest

Rhian Daniel – Fugitives of Ford Ward

Zak Hilferty – The Adventures of Borris

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To Hull And Back Winner's Video

The winner's video was filmed on the 20th and 21st of July 2020. It stars the spirit of Alan MacGlas, lots of motorways, the North Sea, Alan's splendid letter of polite refusal to join me on this epic journey, motorbikes, my overly rampant lockdown plumage and, of course, the fair city of Hull.

Big thanks to Alan for helping me make the video.

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Shortlist Author Biographies

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

Adrian Hallchurch (England, UK)

Adrian Hallchurch

I used to work as a journalist and I’ve done a lot of writing in my time – for newspapers, magazines and websites, and have even had a few (almost a handful) short stories published in anthologies.

Writing is my hobby, and I’ve been lucky enough to have been part of the Original Writers Group for the past 10 years, meeting many other aspiring writers of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities, working on a seriously wide variety of projects. We meet in the children’s nursery at the Battersea Arts Centre in south London, surrounded by giant bees and ladybirds, something like going through Alice’s looking glass.

I produced a couple of seriously poor novels a few years ago and, thankfully, I never found an agent and they weren’t published. These days, with the demands of a full-time job and a six-year-old daughter, I am writing mainly short stories. More recently, I’ve found myself writing more satirical pieces, including this one about politicians and the royal family. It’s not a laugh-a-line comic romp, but if the dark, gentle humour entices a smile or two among readers, my work is done.

Alan MacGlas (Scotland, UK)

Alan MacGlas

A Londoner by birth and Glaswegian by accident, Alan MacGlas is a retired government servant and current professional editor of stories and poetry. He came to writing late in life, and has inflicted upon the world one book of miscellaneous articles, stories, poems and bagatelles (The Collected Homework of Albert Gulliver Trumpshaw) and one pamphlet of proper poetry (Mortal Clay), neither of which is available from Amazon or any good booksellers.

Being an accomplished pianist and mildly autistic, he loves classical music, wine, mountains and out-of-season seaside towns. He detests poetry.

Brandon Robshaw (England, UK)

Brandon Robshaw

I’m primarily a children’s writer. My book of spooky children’s poems, These Are a Few of My Scariest Things, was published in 2017, and my Young Adult fantasy novel, The Infinite Powers of Adam Gowers, was published in 2018.

My day-job is being a lecturer for the Open University, in Children’s Literature, Creative Writing, and Philosophy. ‘Book Reviews’ is one of a suite of stories I have written based on anxiety dreams, called Bernard’s Anxious Nights. Some of these stories have been published – two in the anthologies Fugue and Fugue 2, and one on the MIR Online website.

Christine Griffin (England, UK)

Christine Griffin

Christine is a Gloucestershire-based writer of prose and poetry. She has won several competitions, both locally and nationally, and in 2016 published a book of short stories. Her work has been featured on several occasions at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and on local radio.

In April ’18  and April ’19, she performed a selection of her work at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival. She was Commended in the  2018 Torbay Poetry Competition and, in October 2018,  won the Gloucestershire Prize in the Buzzwords Poetry Competition.

Dan Purdue (England, UK)

Dan Purdue

Dan Purdue lives and writes in Leamington Spa. His occasionally published, sporadically prize-winning fiction has appeared in print and online in the UK, Ireland, Canada, and the United States. His stories have found their way into The Fiction Desk, the 2016 To Hull and Back Short Story Anthology, The New Writer, Jersey Devil Press, The View From Here, Every Day Fiction, Southword, and The Guardian.

His work has won prizes in a variety of competitions, including The HE Bates Short Story Award, The Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition, The James White Award, and Flash 500. His work has also featured in an English study guide, and been performed live at the Berko Speakeasy. One of his stories has been broadcast on hospital radio, although the fact that this has never happened since suggests the medicinal benefits of his fiction are, at best, negligible.

Eddie Mitra (England, UK)

Eddie Mitra

I'm 26 and I'm an aspiring writer/director with a few short films and short stories under my belt. My writing generally explores the uncomfortable, the unconscious and the various things people feel that society has deemed unacceptable. I treat themes such as death, addiction or sexual deviancy with humour and irreverence because I find people who take life too seriously are helplessly boring and annoying.

My greatest fear is that writing is therapy and that someday I will be healed.

EJ Robinson (England, UK)

EJ Robinson

I'm a freelance tour guide and life-long writer. In 2010 and 2011, I had stories shortlisted in the 17-25 age category of the Wicked Young Writers’ Award chaired by Michael Morpurgo, and completed Faber Academy's novel writing course in 2014.

On most days, I'm to be found in the taverns and halls and parks of London, telling the city's history to people from all over the world, with a corner of my heart wishing I was at home writing.

Ian Tucker (England, UK)

Ian Tucker

Ian writes largely for his own fun when time permits. Such outputs as are put out largely involve whodunit crime, light horror and dry humour. They would end up on if he could remember how to add additional content.

The pinnacle of his life has involved being short and long listed in previous To Hull And Back's. He lives in Bristol with wife and woodlice. The spiders have largely moved on to a posher house.

Julie Bull (England, UK)

Julie Bull

Julie Bull is a writer who lives in South London. She used to be a Whitehall civil servant but has now accidentally retired and is using her time to write short stories and reinvent herself as a freelance journalist. She is currently writing a novel about growing up in Leeds in the 1970's.

She hates hiking and moths. Her work has appeared in MIR Online, Retreat West and FunnyPearlsUK.

Karen Jones (Scotland, UK)

Karen Jones

Karen Jones is a prose writer from Glasgow with a preference for flash and short fiction. She is addicted to writing competitions and is a perennial short-lister, though she has reached the prize-winning stage a few times, including with Mslexia, Flash 500, Words With Jam and Ad Hoc Fiction.

Her work is published in numerous ezines, magazines and anthologies. Her story 'Small Mercies' was nominated for Best of the Net, the Pushcart Prize and is included in Best Small Fictions 2019. Her stories have featured in the last two To Hull And Back Anthologies.

Kathryn Joyce (England, UK)

Kathryn Joyce

Kathryn Joyce (Kathy) began writing fiction for the second time in 2009 when she returned from a year spent working in Lahore, Pakistan. (Her first-time-writing began at an early age, but slowed up as life gathered pace. Somewhere, amongst the detritus of her loft, ghostly scribbles, riddles and rhymes lie rotting in boxes.) Then, on a damp day somewhere in Peterborough, she asked of a friend, “What next?” The friend, who claimed to have enjoyed newsletters Kathy sent home from Pakistan and elsewhere, suggested she write a book.

The debut novel, Thicker Than Soup, is a story of a British Pakistani girl who travels, in curiosity, to Pakistan. It was published in 2015. Since then, Kathy has devoted her skills to writing short fiction. “I enjoy telling lies,” she explains. “There are so many of them.”

Born in Hull, Kathy has lived and written unexcitingly in more than 60 countries where she has worked or travelled. Recently retired, she now writes simply for the pleasure of crafting words. With stories shortlisted in Eyelands International Short Story Contest and published by Strange Days Books, she continues to write about the vagaries of life from downtown Lincolnshire.

Kiare Ladner (England, UK)

Kiare Ladner

As a child, Kiare Ladner wanted to live on a farm, run an orphanage and be on stage. As an adult, she found herself working for academics, with prisoners and on nightshifts.

Her short stories have been published in anthologies, broadcast on the radio and shortlisted in competitions, including the BBC National Short Story Award 2018. Nightshift, her debut novel, will be published by Picador in 2020.

Louise Elliman (England, UK)

Louise Elliman

Louise has been writing short stories for the last two years and is increasingly excited by her new found powers. This year, Louise has won the Graffiti Magazine short story competition and has read at Story Sundays in Bristol and at the latest Stroud Short Stories event.

Martin Strike (England, UK)

Martin Strike

Martin approves of all wastes of time in life, except golf of course, and opts to fritter away his own valuable hours adding bunkum to his blog The Newbury Short Story Teller , while mulling that his pen cannot be mightier than the sword, as he would rather be poked in the buttock with a biro than a rapier any day. To avoid any uncomfortable misunderstandings, Martin used a laptop to write his Amazonally available book, Preposterous Tales from the Newbury Short Story Teller.

Should you approach Martin, don’t mention that he once had a dog that didn’t have a nose. How did it smell? Well, it couldn’t; it didn’t have a nose. When not writing or daydreaming, Martin lives with wife, Joanne, and Mrs Pastry, a fully-nosed cat, near Newbury library where he can roam free from his life-long fear of milk-based puddings. Oh yes, when not mentioning the dog thing to Martin, don’t be carrying a blancmange.

Short-listed for this very competition in 2016, and even adjudged runner-up in 2017, Martin is very appreciative of the hard work from Christopher Fielden and his drones in providing us this opportunity to inadvisably share the foul workings of our minds.

Pat Winslow (England, UK)

Pat Winslow

Pat Winslow worked for 12 years as an actor before leaving the theatre in 1987. She has published seven poetry collections, most recently, Kissing Bones from Templar Poetry.

Pat collaborated with composer Oliver Vibrans on her version of ‘The Coat’, a folk tale from the Caucasus, for the Royal College of Music earlier this year. She frequently works with Oxford Concert Party both in performance and as a workshop facilitator in day centres and schools, and she is part of a group of poets and artists from Oxford and Bonn, which enjoys a rich cultural exchange.

For more information see:

Pat also blogs at:

Renée Boyer (New Zealand)

Renée Boyer

Renée Boyer is a comms manager by day, creative writer at night (and occasionally lunchtime). She lives in beautiful Raglan, New Zealand.

Renée writes prose, poetry and plays, and her 10-minute plays have been performed all over the world, the most recent premiering in Hollywood. She is currently attempting to write a novel, as part of her Master of Professional Writing at the University of Waikato.

Rob McInroy (England, UK)

Rob McInroy

Rob McInroy has won four short story competitions in the past year (Hissac, ChipLit Fest, Writing Magazine and the Bedford International Writing Competition). His short stories have been placed or shortlisted in a further 16 competitions in the past 18 months.

In 2018, he was a winner of the Bradford Literature Festival Northern Noir Crime Novel competition with Cuddies Strip, a novel based on a true crime in 1930s Scotland.

Steve Sheppard (England, UK)

Steve Sheppard

My first novel, A Very Important Teapot, which I like to describe as a comedy thriller, is due to be published by Claret Press this autumn and I am currently working on a sequel in the certain knowledge that many, many people will be clamouring for such a book once they read Teapot. Or not, but it's always good to be prepared.

Apart from half a dozen poems published in an anthology back when the world was in black and white, Teapot will be the first thing with my name intrinsically involved sitting on a bookshelf.

I was born and spent my formative and early adult years in the middle of the Surrey stockbroker belt but having failed to meet any stockbrokers, I moved to rural west Oxfordshire over 20 years ago, where I live in the poorer part of an expensive and attractive not-quite-Cotswold village with my wife, a son who refuses to move out, and the latest in a series of tired cats.

I am now starting to wind down following a life spent working variously as a salesman, local government pen-pusher, prison officer, bingo manager and presently, as I reach my mellow years, something I’m not quite sure about in digital advertising within the motor trade.

Steven John (England, UK)

Steven John

Steven John’s writing has appeared in Burningword, Bending Genres, Spelk, Fictive Dream, EllipsisZine, Ghost Parachute and Best Microfiction 2019. He’s won Bath Ad Hoc Fiction a joint record six times and has been nominated for BIFFY 2019.

He lives in The Cotswolds, England. Steven is Fiction & Special Features Editor at New Flash Fiction Review.


Twitter: @StevenJohnWrite

Susan Bennett (Australia)

Susan Bennett

In her first job, Susan Bennett sold large knives, handcuffs and replica pistols to complete strangers. Many years later it occurred to her that some of those nice people may not have been buying these items for joke gifts, as they claimed. Maybe they weren’t even nice.

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Longlist Author Biographies

Below are the biographies and photos of the longlisted writers.

Alison Cram (Scotland, UK)

Alison Cram

After a varied career including work as a town planner, interior design assistant, careers counsellor and Christmas tree pruner, I’ve been a carer for my dad for the last five years. I started writing to raise awareness of the issues facing carers, but sometimes it’s fun just to let my imagination go, so in between the serious stuff I enjoy inventing comic short stories.

I particularly enjoy putting a comic twist on well-known fairy tales and familiar characters – it gives plenty of scope to play around with the reader’s expectations and hopefully raise a smile.

I’d like to say my hobbies are sky-diving, rock climbing and learning Arabic but actually you’re more likely to find me out for a walk, knitting like a maniac or bashing out a tune on the piano.

Belinda Forrest (England, UK)

Belinda Forrest

Belinda has been writing stories and poems for as long as she can remember; she won her first competition in 1972, in the Puffin Post. The prize – a 10 shilling postal order – was presented by Alan Garner and since then she has been a runner-up in several short story competitions, including the Scholastic/Independent Short Story for Children competition in 1999, the Moth Publishing Northern Crime Competition in 2016 and was Highly Commended in the Poetry on the Lake competition in 2018.

When she’s not writing, Belinda works with doctors and managers in the NHS, developing their leadership skills. She is Director of Leadership at the University of Birmingham Health Services Management Centre, and her academic speciality is on complex systems.

Colin Kerr (Scotland, UK)

Colin Kerr

I am a Maths and guidance teacher in a secondary school in Edinburgh. I write poetry, short stories and song lyrics in my spare time as well as drawing and writing music. I live on my own surrounded by books, CDs, musical instruments and a floor shaking sound system. I enjoy all sorts of music although I’m not so sure my neighbours feel the same.

Fee Johnstone (Scotland, 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, Glove and CrabFat. I have also had stories published in anthologies such as Nothing Is As It Was, a charity anthology to raise awareness of climate change, F, M or Other, an anthology on gender and Shades of Pride, an anthology of LGBT work.

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.

Hannah Burnett (England, UK)

Hannah Burnett

Hannah lives in the Bristol area. There are probably lots of things she could write about here, but few are springing to mind at the moment.

There’s the fact she’s studying for a degree in Creative Writing. There was that time she sent her ‘novel’ in to Chicken House, only to be told they do not publish the work of 12-year-olds. Perhaps she should end with a reflection on the agonising decision of whether to write this biography in self-conscious first person or awkward third person. (Hannah went for the latter.)

Oh, she fell off an escalator once. That was pretty funny.

India Watson (England, UK)

India Watson

India Watson is an avid reader, regular writer, and sometime adrenaline junkie. A graduate in psychology, she lives in Shropshire with her family and animals and focuses her spare time on walking and writing.

She is currently learning British Sign Language, pole dancing, and the art of sword smelting and, if the writing career doesn’t pan out, she can become a sword wielding, dancing, interpreter.

India enjoys dark humour, quirky plots, and ragtag groups in found families. She has a full-length novel currently in the process of being published; this will be her debut novel.

This is her first short story competition.

J. Rosina Harlow (England, UK)

J. Rosina Harlow

J. Rosina Harlow graduated from University College Chichester in 2005 as a joint recipient of the Philip LeBrun prize for Creative Writing, but put her dreams of having her short stories published on hold to pursue a sensible, steady career as a freelance musician.

She has since made other questionable life choices, like acquiring a large number of cats, buying a sports car and marrying another musician.

In 2017, she was a proud contributor to Adverbially Challenged Volume 2, which rekindled her ambitions to have her surreal short stories published so that they could be read and occasionally even enjoyed, by others.

She lives in Kent and can be found at

Jake Kendall (England, UK)

Jake Kendall

Jake Kendall writes tragic jokes and sad nonsense from his hometown of Oxford. He is just about to start his Creative Writing Masters at the University of Edinburgh.

If you wish to hear him self-promote shamelessly and moan about trivial things, follow him on Twitter: @jakendallox

Lucy Tertia George (England, UK)

Lucy Tertia George

Lucy Tertia George is the author of Three Women, a novel published by Starhaven Press in October 2018. Lucy also performs as a singer and comedian under the name Lucy Lyrical.

Lucy is a poet and short-story writer and her screenplay, Fluff, was made into a 30-minute short. Lucy’s song 'Beer Googles (I’m just too sober to love you)' is played regularly on Radio Caroline. Lucy lives in London with her two sons.

In the photo, Lucy is the one on the left.

Mary Francis (New Zealand)

Mary Francis

Mary lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand. She writes comedy, crime and occasionally a mixture of the two.

She won third prize in the 2018 NZ Writers College Short Story Competition.

Maura Yzmore (USA)

Maura Yzmore

Maura Yzmore writes short-form literary and speculative fiction, as well as humour. She lives with her family in the American Midwest and works as a university professor in a field with a lot of math.

You can find out more about her work at or on Twitter: @MauraYzmore

Melanie Roussel (England, 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. I currently live in North London, which is neither quaint nor quiet.

I work in television production, which is not a job that affords you a lot of free time. So, with every spare moment, I pursue my dream of becoming a published author. I've been writing all my life, boring my family rigid with my stories. I mostly write speculative fiction and run a blog at: I'm a member of the London Writers' Café, a wonderfully supportive group.

Discovering the 2015 To Hull And Back Anthology 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 at the chaos.

Michael G. Casey (Ireland)

Michael G. Casey

Michael G. Casey has published five novels, a book of non-fiction and an award-winning chapbook of short fiction. Some of his darkly humorous plays have been performed on stage.

Nicolas Ridley (England, UK)

Nicolas Ridley

Nicolas Ridley has lived and worked in Tokyo, Casablanca, Barcelona, Hong Kong and Paris and now lives in London & Bath where he writes fiction, non-fiction, scripts and stage plays under different names. His plays, which are published by Stagescripts and Smith Scripts, have been performed in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isles of Scilly, the Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Australia.

A prize-winner and Pushcart nominee, his short stories have been published in anthologies, magazines and journals in the UK, Canada, the Republic of Ireland and the USA and have been read at events in Bath, Brighton, Bristol, London and Swindon. Godfrey’s Ghost, his biographical memoir, is published by Mogzilla Life.

Rachael Clarke (Canada)

Rachael Clarke

Rachael Clarke is a retired police officer living in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, along with her husband, two handsome young children and a couple of crazy dogs. Aside from her busy family life, she also enjoys acting in community theatre and is eagerly pursuing her life-long dream of becoming a published author/illustrator. She loves a good cup of coffee, as long as it doesn’t spill onto her artwork.

Not one to let herself be bored, Rachael is constantly working on several projects, including short stories and a novel. As a PTSD survivor, Rachael remains a strong supporter for all first responders struggling with the effects of trauma. She is currently writing and illustrating her very first picture book, which is inspired by her experience in the police force. Join her in this exciting creative journey at:

Shannon Savvas (Cyprus)

Shannon Savvas

A New Zealand writer who divides her heart and life between Cyprus, England and New Zealand.

Winner of Reflex Fiction (Winter 2017), the Cuirt New Writing Prize (Galway, Ireland, March 2019), runner up in Flash500 Short Story March 2019, TSS Cambridge Flash Fiction May 2019. Published in Gulf Coast Online and print/online Issue 12 Into the Void, March/April 2019. Longlisted, shortlisted and commended here and there. Published online (Storgy Magazine, Inktears, Reflex Fiction, Fictive Dream, Cabinet of Heed, Headland Journal NZ (Issue 1-2015 & Issue 13-2018 and contributor to Horizons 3, Bath Flash Fiction, Bath Short Story Award, Fish, Reflex Fiction anthologies (2017, 2018).

Spencer Luster (USA)

Spencer Luster

Born near Chicago in the golden year of 1960, I was raised on comic books. Despite this, Jack London was the first to make me want to write fiction. Many others followed.

Things I've learned include physics and photon wrangling, how to play Scrabble well, and that dogs and kids are pretty darned cool.

I also learned disc jockeying, woodworking, heartbreak (multiple times – I'm a slow learner), that Terry Pratchett is a demigod, and that Scotland, while gorgeous and my heart's desire, has no idea how to build roads for cars.

Seriously, Scotland, look into two concepts: shoulders and lanes. The latter in particular might reduce the probability of heart attacks if more than one lane is employed for two-way traffic in the Highlands. Also, when your own road signs show a picture of a sheep using a parachute, it's time to re-evaluate your infrastructure. Good lord, the U.S. has its faults, but we know roads.

Stephen Lorriman (Thailand)

Stephen Lorriman

Stephen Lorriman was born in Zambia, raised in Staffordshire, and studied at Goldsmiths in London. For over 20 years he has lived in a house down a soi in the ever inspirational city of Bangkok, where he daydreams professionally and in between works at a university as well as freelances.

He has always loved writing but has only recently become more serious about it. It has begun very well with early successes, having been shortlisted in several competitions and published in Writers’ Forum. He derives great pleasure from every step of the process, from the initial sparks and rushes, to the problem solving inherent in redrafting.

He is blessed with a fantastic wife and two young daughters, who demand he tell on-the-spot and, subsequently, very surreal stories nearly every night. Their favourite being a tragicomedy involving a staring contest between a cauliflower and a broccoli stem in the pantry. It doesn’t end well for either vegetable.

Teresa Godfrey (N. Ireland, UK)

Teresa Godfrey

Teresa Godfrey writes short stories, screenplays and poetry and is currently writing a YA novel, which she hopes will be the first in a trilogy. She is also working towards a collection of poetry.

Her screenwriting has won awards, such as the EU New Talent Award for a screenplay adaptation of Ann Pilling’s book, Black Harvest, and her original feature film scripts have been shortlisted for the Orange/Pathe Award and for the Miramax Award.

Her short stories have been published in Crannog, The Honest Ulsterman, Ireland’s Own and Boyne Berries and placed in many competitions. She is a past winner of the Allingham Short Story Award.

She has read her poetry at events and festivals throughout Ireland. Many of her poems have been placed in competitions and published in various anthologies and literary magazines, including Rhythm of Hearts, Crannog, Corncrake, The Honest Ulsterman, the Community Arts anthologies Resonance 2018 and Find 2019, Highland Poetry (USA), Curlew, North West Words, The Blue Nib online, and broadcast on local radio.

She has several years’ experience of tutoring and facilitating creative writing courses and screenwriting workshops in the community and at writing festivals.

Victoria Mason (New Zealand)

Victoria Mason

When I am not writing or playing the banjo, I am a chef. I have recently moved from Frome, in the south west of England, to New Zealand with my Kiwi husband. I have been writing stories for a few years, mainly for myself and Luke, the Kiwi.

I enjoy reading and writing stories with an element of humour, so this competition is ideal for me :-)

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Special Mention Author Biographies

Below are the biographies of some incredibly talented students and young writers. Keep writing those stories, gals and guys – you all have wonderful imaginations.

Abi Jones (England, UK)

Abi Jones

Abi Jones is a (slightly stressed and caffeine-filled) second year English Language and Linguistics student studying in York, but her hometown is Cheshire where she lives with her mum, sister and her (very judgemental) two cats. Before entering this competition, her writing had only ever really been in average-marked college essays and on a blog she runs about her experiences with mental health.

She has a preference for writing fiction though, as she finds it exciting and enjoys reading it the most. Writing this short story has been a lot of fun for her and has been a good distraction/procrastinator of actually doing her degree, which she is most grateful for.

Gianna Ma (Hong Kong)

Gianna Ma

Born and raised in Hong Kong to a family of five, I am a 16-year-old aficionado of romantic poetry, etymology and philosophy.

Harrison Rolls (England, UK)

Harrison Rolls

I’m an 18 year-old writer pursuing a career in comedy, living in the glorious countryside of the West Midlands. I have always had a strong love and fascination in comedy, and have especially enjoyed writing humorous stories.

Recently I’ve had the amazing opportunity to see my work come to life with the Pentabus Rural Theatre Company and their young writers' programme, in which I wrote a comedic play. Seeing my own creation on stage has truly sparked a passion for comedy and writing, which I hope to further through the comedy writing course at Salford University. With my bizarre magnetism to strange and awkward situations, I always have plenty to write about.

Kiah Olowu (England, UK)

Kiah Olowu

I am a university student currently studying English. Taking a short story module in my second year has encouraged me to start writing professionally.

My stories are inspired by dreams I have had or how dreams can affect our daily lives. Writing helps me to escape reality and it allows me to create new and unlocked worlds that show both the good and bad of society.

Meaghan Henderson (Australia)

Meaghan Henderson

I am currently a student at Macquarie University in New South Wales, Australia, studying a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Creative Writing and Minor in Ancient History. I am also a crazy cat lady with three cats, and take care of my family's other animals, which include two dogs, a bird, a rabbit and a Guinea pig.

Growing up, I have always loved writing and the creative world. It was a way I would express myself as a kid and a fantastic form of procrastination through high school and in the early stages of my degree. I love to take inspiration for my writing and characters from the people around me and the environment. I have always wanted to entertain people and share emotions through writing.

Sporting and keeping fit are also major passions of mine. Netball and kayaking are huge loves for me and that's often when I become my most creative, thinking while I’m moving. I did writing comps throughout school but entering into this level of writing comp is a first for me. It will be the first step in finally pursing my writing dream and I'm super excited to see where it leads.

Natasha Nagle (USA)

Natasha Nagle

Natasha Nagle is an Archaeology graduate student who enjoys writing in the bits of spare time she can glean. Her forms of choice typically include poetry and creative prose, with the aim of connecting people through talks of her travels.

Her work can be seen in literary journals such as Kalliope, Footnotes, BAIT, and Klioand. More information can be found at:

Nina Claudia Hessler (South Africa)

Nina Claudia Hessler

Nina Claudia Hessler is a beginner writer from Cape Town, South Africa. She is currently an undergraduate medical student at the University of Cape Town. Her writing has been published in Noble / Gas Qtrly.

Rhian Daniel (England, UK)

Rhian Daniel

I am currently a student at Lancaster University where I read History and Philosophy and am going into my second year. My writing is something that I am dedicated to furthering and I am constantly looking for new challenges and inspirations but I have not just limited this to the fictitious.

I have used my historical skill to do some research for the National Trust and a collection of furniture at Sizergh but also, this year, I have focused around furthering my journalism. I have written for the student newspaper but have lately ventured into doing work for small companies: most recently I have taken up a managerial position within a company called Rheia Fashion.

The world of fashion is one that I am attempting to immerse myself in and I am now treasurer for the university fashion society. I enjoy a very active life style, playing squash, tennis and spending as much time as possible outside. I balance this all with university as well as my musical pursuits, playing clarinet, piano and cello.

Zak Hilferty (Scotland, UK)

Zak Hilferty

Zak Hilferty is 13 and lives in the West of Scotland with his family, 2 dogs and 4 stick insects. He enjoys reading and playing the piano. He has recently started his creative writing adventure. He is a very creative person and loves to come up with new ideas for characters and stories.

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The Judges

Here are some details about the 2019 To Hull And Back judges.

All the judges are published short story writers, with a variety of experience and differing reading tastes. Some of them are members of Stokes Croft Writers and have been helping me decide the winners since To Hull And Back was launched, back in 2013. John and Mike are both previous winners of the To Hull And Back competition.

The judging works like this:

  • I take myself off in my mobile writing office to a location with a nice view and no internet connection – as you can see from the picture below, this process is a terrible hardship (hmmm...)

To Hull And Back Mobile Writing Office on the Llyn Peninsula

The To Hull And Back mobile writing office, parked up on the Llŷn Peninsula, Wales

  • the stories are read
  • realisation dawns: I've received 100's of awesome tales, so making decisions on which should be short and long-listed will be nigh-on impossible
  • a breakdown ensues
  • drinking tea and eating too many biscuits heals me
  • I twitch uncontrollably due to the sugar rush
  • pulling myself together, I start on days of deliberation and procrastination
  • I force myself to make those nigh-on impossible decisions mentioned earlier
  • the shortlisted stories are sent to the judging panel, who go through the same process I just described, independently
  • I await their results
  • once received, I collate said results in my 'Spreadsheet of Answers', which decrees the winner

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 maniacs.

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. She's meant to be writing but she's got a new puppy. She likes to judge.

Christie's comments on judging the competition:

I'm very honoured to have been a judge of this competition from its birth and, cliché though it is, I'm so impressed at the quality of writing that we get in every year. The longlist should be very proud of themselves.

It was very stiff competition this year. Most of the time, I forgot I was judging as I was so immersed in some really exceptional storytelling. Excited to see who wins. Congratulations to the short list!

Christopher Fielden

Christopher Fielden

Chris has recently signed a publishing deal with Victorina Press. His collection of short stories, Book of the Bloodless Volume 1: Alternative Afterlives, is being released later this year. The book has been awarded the title of "Award-Winning Finalist in the 'Fiction: Short Story' category of the 2019 International Book Awards".

Chris's head is now so swollen, he can't move and resides in the Big Head's Wing, a secure unit of the I Can't Quite Believe It, I Need A Lie Down Institute for authors who have lost all sense of the difference between third, second and first person narrative, especially when writing their own biographies.

You notice the last strange sentence and wonder if Chris has lost his mind. After much deliberation, you decide he has. You are correct.

I've been running this celebration of humorous literary masterpieces for six years. I'm astounded, and immensely pleased, that To Hull And Back has grown every time it's been run. Every year, entry numbers go up, anthology sales go up, the prize pot goes up... You get the gist, things go up.

When all this started, I thought the insane top prize might not have a very wide appeal. I'm immensely pleased to have been proved wrong. Long live humour. Long live craziness. Long live laughter. I think we need it at the moment. More than ever.

Chris's comments on judging the competition:

Judging this competition does not have a positive impact on my Hobnob addiction.

For full details, see the notes section below.

John Holland

John Holland

John Holland is a short fiction author from Stroud in Gloucestershire. He started writing stories when he was 59.

As well as winning first prize in the 2018 To Hull And Back Short Story Competition, John has also won first prize in competitions run by the Dorset Fiction Award, InkTears, Momaya Press and the Worcestershire LitFest. His stories have been short/long listed in a further 40 competitions.

John’s work has been extensively published in print and online and he isn’t far from having his hundredth piece published. As well as the To Hull And Back Anthology, his work is in the Bath Short Story Award Anthology, The Best Stories in a Decade (Momaya Press), the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology and elsewhere, and online at Reflex Fiction, The Cabinet of Heed, The Molotov Cocktail, EllipsisZine, NFFD and others.

He likes to read to audiences, particularly if they’re drunk, and has done so in many places including London, Birmingham, Bath, Bristol, Stroud and the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

John is the organiser of the twice-yearly event, Stroud Short Stories, described by the Cheltenham LitFest as “possibly the best short story event in the South West”.

John’s website:

John's comments on judging the competition:

By dint of having won this wonderful short story competition in 2018, I was asked by Chris Fielden to be one of the judges for To Hull And Back 2019. I consider it a huge honour.

Being the organiser and twice yearly co-judge of the Stroud Short Stories (SSS) events, and the former judge of The Evesham Festival of Words Short Story Competition, I had some insight into the sheer variety of styles, tones and subject matter which emerge from the strangely brilliant minds of writers.

However, for SSS we just choose 10 stories to be read by their authors at our events. There’s no winner. For Chris, the task was to put the uniformly entertaining, but very varied, stories in the 20-strong shortlist in order from 1 to 20 – what a challenge!

I enjoyed all the stories and, as it was, there were three stories that blew my mind, and for which I would gladly have traded my wife and my children to read. But which of the three was best?

And then there were the others which I would happily have traded my house and my collection of Wolverhampton Wanderers memorabilia just to be near. But which was fourth and which was sixteenth?

As I write, I don’t know the final winners after all the judges votes have been correlated. I hope it’s the same as the ones I chose. But it won’t be, will it? Judging is a highly subjective exercise and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Congratulations to everyone who made the short-list and the anthology. I love you.

Mark Rutterford

Mark Rutterford

Mark Rutterford writes and performs his short stories in towns and cities across the South West. Stories with a love interest, a bit of humour, a slice of heartache and, quite often, a prop in hand. If you see him live, it is obvious that the performance element of sharing his work is really important to Mark.

A proud member of Stokes Croft Writers, Mark has written stories featuring badgers, squirrels, aliens and biscuits. Mark is currently eating too many biscuits whilst writing blogs about story telling events he has fallen in love with. If you meet him, please DO NOT feed him – least of all biscuits. In the unlikely event that he does not burst before publication of this anthology, he will be really pleased to be here.

Mark's comments on judging the competition:

Writing, lovely writing. Thank you!

You might think humorous means comic – stories full of gags and the story arc just to get to the next punchline.

To Hull And Back has never been that.

There were some belly-laugh moments for sure, but lots of smartly crafted writing and amazing originality.

It has been a pleasure to read the shortlist – each and every one. But I can’t stress enough, just how difficult and, therefore, just how personal the differentiation between stories had to be.

Congratulations to everyone in the anthology – you made for a great read.

Mel Ciavucco

Mel Ciavucco

Mel Ciavucco is a writer, editor and vlogger from the UK. She writes and talks about body image and gender equality, as well as writing fiction.

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.

Mel's comments on judging the competition:

It’s To Hull and Back time again! Twenty awesome stories, all so different and brilliant in their own right.

I love judging this competition, but it’s never easy to pick a winner. From the quirky reads to the darker, subtly comedic stories, I enjoyed each and every one.

Congratulations to all the writers, and thank you to Chris Fielden for making this happen.

Mike Scott Thomson

Mike Scott Thomson

Mike Scott Thomson has been writing fictions of various lengths since 2011. Over the year’s they’ve been either shrinking into flash fictions, or threatening to expand into novellas or, fate willing, a novel. Publication credits include stories published in three Fiction Desk anthologies, the literary magazines Litro, Prole, and Storgy, and competition placings from Momaya Press, InkTears, Writers’ Forum, and Chris Fielden’s own inaugural To Hull And Back competition.

In 2016 he accidentally challenged the literary community to use as many adverbs as they could possibly manage, in stories of fewer than 100 words. Four successful charity anthologies later, he’s still not entirely sure what happened, but he’s very glad it did.

Mike's comments on judging the competition:

I’ve assisted with the judging of the competition on a few occasions now, and it doesn’t get any easier. What a terrific selection of short stories. Just like the number of entries, the standard seems to rise year on year. How on Earth does anyone filter out the best of the lot?

As ever, it was helpful for me to use the judging criteria as suggested by Chris – for example, marks for openings and endings, strength of prose, humour – but even that ultimately comes down to subjectivity and personal taste. Every judge would have reported back with very different lists. It couldn’t be any other way.

Like on previous occasions, helping with this competition has again been a valuable learning process for me; certainly a reminder of where my own writing can be improved, and that I should probably step up my game. So to all on the shortlist: thank you for that. And for the ultimate winner, who at the time of writing is as yet unannounced – hearty congratulations. Enjoy your stint on The Hog.

Steph Minns

Steph Minns

Steph has been a keen story writer and artist since childhood. Originally from the suburbs of London but now living in Bristol, UK, she works part time as an administrator and spends her spare time writing. Her dark fiction stories range from ghost tales to urban and folk horror, and paranormal crime thrillers.

Her professional publishing history runs to several short stories, published by Grinning Skull Press, Almond Press and Zombie Pirate Publishing, among others. Also, a novella published by Dark Alley Press. Her latest novel is a paranormal crime thriller called Death Wears A Top Hat, published by J. Ellington Ashton Press. She has also self-published a collection of short horror stories, The Obsidian Path, which has attained 5 star reviews on Amazon.

Steph is a member of Stokes Croft Writers, a small fiction writing group who host story-telling events around Bristol.

You can find more details on her website, where you can read free stories, interviews and reviews.

Steph's comments on judging the competition:

I found it really hard to choose one story over another, to be honest. There was so much good stuff and some great characters and settings popped out of the pages. My favourite genre is mystery and horror, but I really enjoyed these. Some shone when it came to plot, others on characterisation and dialogue. But eventually, the top three emerged for me.

My advice for new writers is plug away at sending your stuff out to competitions, websites looking for work, and direct submissions to mags in your genre. Even if you're not a winner here, you will be somewhere.

Thomas David Parker

Thomas David Parker

Thomas David Parker was born in Bristol, but was quickly exiled to the Forest of Dean so his childhood could be shaped into an Enid Blyton novel. From a young age, he discovered a joy of stories and was drawn to the realms of fantasy and the supernatural. His earliest influence was Terry Pratchett, but later joined by Neil Gaiman and M. R. James.

He currently lives above a greengrocer with an ill-tempered snake and an even more ill-tempered flatmate. He likes to say he shoots people in the face for a living, as it sounds far more dramatic than portrait photographer. He has published several short stories, performed a sell-out show at the Edinburgh Fringe, and is constantly planning more creative projects. He is a member of Stokes Croft Writers and co-host of Talking Tales, a bi-monthly YouTube/Bristol based storytelling event.

Twitter: @tomshotphoto

Tom's comments on judging the competition:

Wow, what a year! In a world where madness reigns supreme and life is stranger than fiction, it’s a joy to escape into the worlds created by the shortlisted writers. Some are clearly destined for professional success and others destined for professional help. Inevitably, some are destined for both.

Christopher Fielden requested that I rank these stories in order of preference, a near-impossible task that caused me to curse his name more than once and invent some new blasphemies that I wrote down for later. However, it is also a privilege to be able to champion some of these stories and I’m grateful for the opportunity to read them in advance. As much as I tried to tie as many stories as I could, Christopher is a tough taskmaster and stood firm until I was forced to choose.

The winning story is a well-deserved winner, but I’m sure you’ll agree there are some corkers in the runners up. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the stories far more than I did ranking them.

Until next time, I’m off for a lie-down.

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A Few Notes on the 2019 Competition

This year, I received a record number of competition entries, yet again. The history of entry numbers looks like this:

  • 2019: 582 (+126)
  • 2018: 456 (+97)
  • 2017: 359 (+75)
  • 2016: 284 (+68)
  • 2015: 216 (+122)
  • 2014: 94

The early bird fee helped again this year, working in similar fashion to last year. At the end of April 2019, I'd received 212 entries, compared to 208 entries in 2018. Pretty much the same.

The flow of submissions from May through to July was steady, so I managed to stay on top of the reading until mid-July. I'd also cleared the decks of all other projects, which gave me more time to read. Still, there was a big influx of entries as the closing date approached. 312 in the final month, 162 in the final week, 56 on the final day. Last year, it was 187 in the final month, 110 in the final week, 38 on the final day. Writers do love working right up until a deadline, don't they? Yes. Yes they do...

I know I say this every year, but I'm 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 running To Hull And Back.

This year, I went to the Llŷn Peninsula in North West Wales to undertake the reading and judging.

I visited my friends, Alison, Jim and Jackson, in Northwich en route. I also went to Bingley, near Leeds, to visit my old work colleague, Dave, and meet his new wife to be, Emily (WHOOP, congrats guys - awesome news).

Then I headed to Wales and camped on the Western tip of the Llŷn Peninsula.

Llyn Peninsula and Bardsey Island

A view from the Llŷn Peninsula, of Bardsey Island

I found a lovely spot, parked up and read lots.

Mobile Writing Office on the Llŷn Peninsula

The mobile writing office, parked up on the Llŷn Peninsula

Then I realised there were too many good stories, as mentioned in the judge's section of this page. So I drank too much tea and ate too many biscuits. Here's the aftermath.

Chris Fielden Judging

Chris Fielden, having a sugar rush after devouring a family size packet of chocolate Hobnobs

Then I calmed down, parked up somewhere else that's lovely, and completed the judging.

Camper Van on the Llŷn Peninsula

The mobile writing office, parked up somewhere else on the Llŷn Peninsula

On the way home, I visited one of my favourite places – Llŷn Brianne in the Cambrian Mountains in Wales – to make those final tough decisions.

Chris Fielden in the Cambrian Mountains, Wales

Me at Llŷn Brianne, deep in the Cambrian Mountains, Wales

The quality of the stories entered this year was awe-inspiring. There were so many fresh ideas I hadn't seen before. Stories that are imaginative and original resonate with me. I find reading them inspiring.

Due to the ever increasing workload that To Hull And Back generates, I've made the difficult decision to start running the competition biennially in the future. For the past six years, the competition has been open 24/7. I'm only human, I need a break. So the next competition will run in 2021 (opening for entries on 1st August 2020, closing 31st July 2021).

This is to spread the workload and make it manageable. It also means I can look into some admin changes for future competitions. Here are the changes I've decided on, and the ones I'm considering:

  • Prize pot increased from £2,750 to £3,250:
    • First: £1,200 (up from £1,000)
    • Second: £600 (up from £500)
    • Third: £300 (up from £250)
    • 3 x Highly Commended: £150 (up from £100)
    • 14 x Shortlisted: £50
      • if we see more growth next time the competition runs, I'll concentrate on increasing the 14 shortlist prizes
  • 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 £13 for one story, £21 for two stories, £26 for three stories
    • If you enter between 1st May and 31st July, you will pay £15 for one story, £24 for two stories, £30 for three stories
  • Investigate using Submittable to manage and automate the entry process:
    • This will cost money and thus increase the running costs of the competition, but it'll take out a lot of admin and (hopefully) mean fewer rules that are easier to follow
  • Look into working with other readers to help manage the judging process and decide the shortlist:
    • This is also likely to cost money, but it's getting to the stage where selecting the shortlist is too much work for one person
    • Having more readers would also mean a wider variety of styles and genres might start being selected for the shortlist, as this judging malarky is highly subjective – it might help freshen things up a bit
  • Keep trying to get some sponsorship, to help the competition grow

That's it for now, but having a year off will allow me some time to think and consider other ways of improving To Hull And Back in the future.

I hope I'm not putting people off by increasing the entry fee again. It simply allows more growth and makes the risk a little safer for me – if the competition makes a loss, which it has done in the past, I have to cover it. As the prize pot increases, so does the risk of extreme skintness. Putting the entry fee up just makes things a little bit safer for me.

This year, the competition is highly likely to make a profit (as always, it depends on anthology sales), which is why I'm able to consider using Submittable in the future. The 2019 prizes are first £1,000, second £500, third £250, 3 x runner-up prizes of £100 and 14 x shortlist prizes of £50 – total is £2,750. 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. I also offered a small payment to the artist of the anthology cover for the first time this year. I plan to keep doing that in future.

This year's cover is being designed by David Whitlam. Here is a sneaky draft-preview, which was used in ads on social media earlier this year.

To Hull And Back short story anthology cover draft teaser

2019 To Hull And Back Short Story Anthology cover draft teaser – 1 of the 20 shortlisted heads above will appear on this bad boy in the very near future...

All the judges 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. This year, I increased the top 6 prizes. Next time round, in 2021, if the competition continues to attract more entries, I will concentrate on the 14 lower prizes.

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. Maybe one day...

Entries this year came from an increasing number of locations around the planet. They include: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, England, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, USA and Wales.

This year, for the first time, I've kept track of different points of view used to tell the stories. Hey, it's interesting if you're a writing geek, and I am one. Here are the figures:

  • Stories written in the first person (I did, I said): 47.5%
  • Stories written in the second person (you did, you said): 1%
  • Stories written in the third person (he did, she said): 50%
  • Other (stories that were presented as a script, or an article, or meeting minutes, or used both 1st and 3rd person etc.): 1.5%

In 2018, 37 entries didn't obey the rules (7% of the 456 entries). In 2019, that figure increased to 59 (just over 10% of 582 entries). That's a small increase, so pretty good. Unfortunately, I still had to disqualify 12 stories, but that's fewer than last year (16). Most of the disqualifications 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.

That’s it. Year six is complete. 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. This simply would not be possible without each and every one of you.

Cheers me dears, Chris.

The Anthology & Book Launch

The 2019 To Hull And Back Anthology contains 28 short stories of mirth and legend, written by the winning and shortlisted writers and the competition judges. Judges stories are included so future entrants can read them while researching the competition and learn about their tastes.

The To Hull And Back Anthology book launch party took place on Tuesday 10th December 2019 in conjunction with Talking Tales at the Left Bank, 128 Cheltenham Rd, Bristol BS6 5RW, UK at 6.30pm.

You can find a full write up about the event on the page about the book.

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Your comments:

Martin S
Dearest Pont Neuf. I can't tell you how excited Misty and I are about being short-listed. Thank you so much.

I have just found out in Newbury (lending) library, where it has taken over 20 minutes of nervous waiting for the swan-driven public internet to open up the result page. I'm not even bothered that hackers are, even as I type, raiding all the points from my Nectar account.

A wonderful weekend to you.

Chris Fielden
Dear Slab-Stone Single-Arch Spanning the River Meles in Izmir (Formerly Smyrna)

Congratulations, me old mucker. Very much deserved.

I hope your Nectar points remain intact – you might miss out on a free packet of crisps or something.

Cheers, Danyang–Kunshan Grand

NOTE: For those of you reading this and wondering what the strange names are all about, Martin and I have taken to calling each other by different names referring to types of bridge, or names of actual bridges, in all correspondence. This has been going on for quite some time and I can't remember why. Who cares... It's amusing.

Martin S
Ah, so that's what it is. I've often wondered what all this bank-spanning cantilevered rusky business is all about. I doff  my pier cap to you.

 Congratulations and best wishes to all story submitters.

Yours, in a sway bracing manner. Dent Head

Chris Fielden
Suspension, do you remember how the bridge thing came about?

on the River Kwai

PS, as we are now including viaducts (a devious ploy, good sir), this could continue forever...

Martin S
Derr! I made the foolish mistake of sending you an email via duct for the attention of Clifton Suspension Bridge. How else?

Yours, Sydney

Chris Fielden
Ah, yes, I remember now, Libertador General San Martín.

A single play on words can lead onto so much joy…

No Sleep Till

Kathy J
Whoa! So exciting to be in the shortlist. BIG congratulations to everyone who has been listed.  I've loved reading all the bio's and the judges comments, but more, thank you for all the competition facts, comments, insights, and views. It's refreshing for the promotor of a competition to be so transparent. Thank you for sharing so much detail.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Kathy - really glad to hear you appreciate the transparency :)

And congratulations on being shortlisted. Yours is a fabulous story that very much deserves its place in the top 20.