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The LoveReading Very Short Story Award 2019

By Liz Robinson on 10th October 2018

We are so excited to be hosting our LoveReading Very Short Story Award 2019. The submissions close on the 31st October so you’d best be quick if you have a story to tell. Find out more and enter today!

A shortlist of ten stories to be announced in January and the winning story in February 2019.  Five expert judges will be reading the submissions (the author details will remain unseen by us). We accept stories from both unpublished and published authors, though we ask for one entry per author and the story itself must be unpublished. The ten shortlisted stories will be available to read on the Lovereading website, and we are also inviting our members to vote for their favourite from this shortlist in the People’s Choice award. The winning short story will be read by a professional actor on The LoveReading Podcast and published on the LoveReading website, the People’s Choice award will be promoted on the Podcast and published on the LoveReading website.

I will be one of the judges. I’ve reviewed quite a few collections of wonderful short stories over the years for Lovereading, spanning genres from science fiction and fantasy, to romance, crime and thrillers. Favourites have included 'The Secret Lives of People in Love' by Simon Van Booy, 'Mystery Tour', the Crime Writers’ Association Anthology of Short Stories, John Connolly’s 'Night Music', and Stephen King’s 'The Bazaar of Bad Dreams'.

Fabulous short stories can consume your whole being, you can disappear, be taken to another place for the entirety of the story. They are capable of transporting us out into a galaxy of possibilities without life interrupting and bringing us back to earth with a bump. There is a burning flash of intensity to be felt while reading, no matter the genre, that just can’t be replicated elsewhere. Really good short stories are in essence, a concentrated potent burst of wonderment and can be a heady and addictive experience.

All the judges adore a well written short story.  We are looking for exciting, stimulating, original and beautifully written stories that leave a powerful impression on the reader. 

Elena Lappin (author, editor, and LoveReading Podcast host; her first book was a collection of stories called 'Foreign Brides'):

‘Short stories seem to begin at a random moment in time and end just a short while later, but in that carefully calibrated space the best ones manage to capture the essence of what it means to be human. ‘Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka is unsurpassed in its daring, tragicomic and deeply inspiring take on our deepest fears.’ 

Maxim Jakubowski (author, translator, editor, reviewer, Vice Chair of the Crime Writer’s Association, Chair of the CWA First Novel Dagger panel of judges):

'I’ve always felt that the art of the short story was a goal I strived towards, and even after writing a few handfuls of novels, I still find that my greatest joy has been writing at shorter length. It’s also so much more difficult, encompassing a whole world, with its characters and emotions, and not a word can be wasted.

My first encounter with the diamond-like perfection of the short story was reading Katherine Mansfield, and much later discovering the obsessive, noir world of Cornell Woolrich whose short tales easily eclipse his better-known novels. The late Ed Gorman was also an affecting influence, as was J. G. Ballard.

You can no longer make a living from writing short stories, but it’s the epitome of art as far as I am concerned.'

Alison Flood (Books Reporter for the Guardian, Thriller Reviewer for the Observer, writer of The Bookseller's monthly paperback preview, and freelance writer for a range of other publications on books):

'They might only run to a few pages but when they’re done right, short stories can be an astonishingly deep plunge into a fictional world, from which you emerge changed, not quite sure what just happened to you but desperate for more. I am constantly amazed by the skill with which short story writers can summon up a reality in so few words: my favourite writers in the genre range from Shirley Jackson to Sylvia Townsend Warner, but I’m always on the look out for more.'

Preti Taneja (author, winner of the Desmond Elliot Prize 2018 for 'We That Are Young', she also teaches writing in prisons and has worked as a human rights reporter):

‘A good short story gives a deep shock of pleasure or pain - but most of all, of uncanny recognition that quickly and completely shifts a worldview. When that happens, it’s unlikely the reader will ever forget the story - something about its language, structure and control will become part of the reader’s sense of self in the world - and that sense of being changed will last forever.’

The judges look forward to discovering some truly wonderful stories.