Short story competition: we name the final shortlist!

As you know, for this year’s Writers’ & Artists’ competition, our shortlist comprised just six stories, picked from thousands of entries. They’re all deserving of worthy mention, and I can honestly say it was a close-run thing.

So, I had the six stories to read. Know, blog readers, that I took my time, read them carefully, made notes as I went along, went back to sections, and generally pondered and mulled for a considerable amount of time.

And so I can at last bring you news of the winner – it’s In the Wendy House by Rosey Darbishire (more of which later, including the story in full). But for now can I tell you that I loved this story because the character’s inner conflict (remember, the theme for this year’s competition was ‘conflict’) really touched me and had me worrying about her long after I’d finished reading.

So, on to the five remaining stories. Well done to all these writers – you came so close… I wish you all the very best of luck with your writing and hope you move on to great things!

And if you’ve been desperate to know who made the shortlist, it gives me great pleasure to reveal not only their names, but also a little more about their stories (listed in alphabetical order by author):

Empire Cakes by Sarah Cave
A touching story about the struggle of an immigrant in Britain. The protagonist, Kamla, is an intelligent woman, whose father dies suddenly while she is studying marine engineering in the UK and she’s forced to work nights at a factory making cakes. An unfortunate incident brings this story to its sad conclusion. The theme of conflict appears in this story in many forms – cultures, family and genders.


Just like England by Richard Fox-Bekerman
An English policeman is sitting in a French café silently observing his surroundings. He starts lusting after a woman in an LBD (little black dress), but his thoughts are interrupted by the appearance of a man (possibly her husband) who begins shouting at the woman. The policeman is frustrated that no one intervenes, so he decides to make a stand himself. There’s a strong sense of the scene and I liked the clever use of language.


The Little People by Greig Hepson
This is a funny story, tackling the conflict of a husband and wife relationship in a humorous way. The story revolves around the conversation between two women, Marie and Tara, at the funeral of Marie’s husband Howard. We learn about Howard and his job as at a call centre as well as about Terrance, Tara’s husband. The two women are likeable and the reader really engages with them. The interesting twist leaves you with a smile on your face.


Losing your Head by John Moorhouse
This is about a man with an unusual hobby (taxidermy) and a somewhat less unusual job (a film projectionist). One day while out walking his dog Morty, he finds a decapitated human head. He’s not concerned with going to the police, just adding some human remains to his collection of carcasses. Unfortunately for the projectionist, a couple of incompetent villains are looking for the head. It’s tense, funny and has a great twist at the end.


The Archaeologist’s Wife by Dave Pescod
This story deals with the conflict of being trapped in a loveless marriage and how one person (Betty) tries to remedy the situation. Betty longs to leave her husband Bill, who she feels frustrated and neglected by. She has her sights set on another man. The claustrophobic village in which they live heightens the tension that Betty feels. The ending is confusing but interesting.

I enjoyed reading all the shortlist, and I hope you can see why.

Warm wishes, Jo



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8 responses to “Short story competition: we name the final shortlist!

  1. Batyah

    Could someone point out where the subject of Conflict is reflected in the winning entry?
    I can’t seem to see it.
    Thanks everyone and congratulations to the winner.

  2. Tom

    I thought it was a fairly bland story. The blurbs of the shortlisted entries look far more promising.

  3. Ed

    Conflict doesn’t have to mean army manoeuvres in the Middle East!
    I really liked it – a thoughtful, well-observed snapshot of an everyday situation, which makes the writing all the more impressive.

  4. Devon

    I enjoyed it too. I thought it conjured up the pressure of motherhood in an unsettling and slightly creepy way – and I thought the conflict was obvious, on several levels! The atmosphere and the sense of being on the edge was cleverly and simply evoked. Well done Rosey. Of course, I’m gutted that mine didn’t win…..!!!

  5. Batyah

    It makes me a little bit angry. No one is obliged to be a mother and it isn’t a secret how tiring children can be.
    I didn’t really see the inner conflict, just a mother in desperation, hopefully not all mothers think like that.
    In any case congratulation to the winner and good luck to us the not winners (losers sounds ugly) for next time.

  6. JaySca

    Angry..? That’s a worry.
    I’d be concerned if I were getting angry about a short story competition that was won by an obviously talented author and a story that clearly reflects the objective set both in its subject and subtext.

    Why not just learn from the experience and use it for future projects? No point in being angry about something you have no control over, is there? 🙂

  7. I think ‘conflict’ is a very broad concept and obviously attracted a wide range of approaches. I should say (and I probably would as a shortlisted writer) that the interpretation should be very open. Also, thanks to Jo for putting some feedback up on the blog. It’s encouraging to get mentioned in any competition but when some time is taken to provide feedback, be it a description, that is useful.

  8. Pingback: The winner: ‘In the Wendy House’ « Writers’ & Artists’ blog