Flash Fiction Award: Deadline midnight GMT October 13
What is flash fiction? Read the full interview with our judge Nancy Stohlman Runs three times per year, full details in the rules. In summary:
- 300 word limit.
- £1000 prize for the winner, £300 second and £100 third. Two commendations £30 each.
- 50 longlisted entrants offered publication in our end of year print and digital anthology. Those accepting receive a free copy.
- Flash Award judge, Nancy Stohlman, shortlists to 20 and chooses the winning, second, third, and two commended fictions.
- This Flash Fiction Award round closes Midnight GMT October 13th 2019.
- Winners will be announced by 1st November 2019 on our Winners pages.
- Enter the Flash Fiction Award here online.
We sent Nancy these questions while she was at the end of her writing sabbatical. And since then we’ve seen her at the Flash Fiction Festival, 28-30 June, in Bristol, teaching and performing her flash. She ran some great workshops on performing work and we got to hear her read and saw her in a special video created by our last judge Christopher Allen and his husband. So much fun!
You have recently been on a writing sabbatical for three weeks. Can you let us know how it went? What was the most worthwhile thing about deciding to take some time out in this way? And has the time resulted in another collection ready to go?
It was amazing (actually I’m in my final days right now). First of all I can’t remember being alone for 3 weeks—maybe ever. Really alone. So I went through a lot of creative levels—excitement, possibility, self-doubt, fear, breakdown, breakthrough, acceptance, and lots and lots of gratitude. I think my biggest discovery is how essential boredom is to creativity. I just wrote a whole essay about Holy Boredom here
But staying in the same place for a long time is different than the usual travel, where we are rushing past things and quickly taking pictures, barely skimming the surface. I recognize the townspeople now, they recognize me. We wave like friends passing on the street. I can spot the new crop of tourists, fleshy and pink and overeager. I’ve been here so long I know who the town crazies are, know that they are harmless. The waiter asks: how is your book, you find inspiration yet? Just today he brought me my coffee exactly how I like it before I even ordered. When I needed a new snorkel the shopkeeper takes it out of the wrapping—you pay me tomorrow he says.
Are you sure?
Did you come here to steal? You pay me tomorrow.
It feels like acceptance.
New manuscript? Let’s hope so…I’m leaving with a nearly completed draft of…something. Time will tell.
- Can you tell us more about your collection Madam Velvet’s Cabaret of Oddities (which was recently a finalist in the literary section of the prestigious Colorado Book Award) and how it came about?
Yes, another crazy impulse that turned into something. As usual I didn’t set out to write a book, I just started writing the pieces as individuals and then collaging them and then realized that indeed I was writing a bigger story. Many of the pieces in Madam Velvet are my shortest ever—tiny stories, micros. And they started to play together and create a cabaret of their own, a variety show with an impulse running from beginning to end. A traveling freak show on the page.
I often use theatrics as a framework for my writing. I wrote another flash novel (published back in 2013) called The Monster Opera, where the story was an opera within an opera. Super weird. I’ve actually performed both Madam Velvet’s Cabaret of Oddities and The Monster Opera as full shows with full casts and original music composed by Nick Busheff. You can see clips from both these on the links.
And the Colorado Book Award—yes! I was especially excited because of course there was no flash fiction category so I submitted the book as a short story collection, which isn’t exactly right but close enough. Then I was told that all the short story entries were going to be combined with literary fiction and I thought: Well shit. Now I have no chance! So to have this book, this very strange, out-of-the-box book, be a finalist in literary fiction, was a double and triple win for me and I feel for flash fiction in general.