Michael Loveday judged our Bath Novella in Flash Award in 2019 and 2020 and has run many courses on writing in this form, and given feedback to and mentored those writing novellas in flash. We were delighted when he agreed to write a guide book on the subject. He’s been working on it for around two years, some of the time with the support of an Arts Council Grant, and it’s published next week, Tuesday May 17th, with our small press Ad Hoc Fiction and available then in paperback from the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop as well as in paperback on Amazon, worldwide. Like the well-known writers and writing teachers who have given Advance Praise within the book, we believe it will become a classic in this genre. You can preorder Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash at a 25% discount until Monday May 16th. from Adhocfiction.com. Last week we published an extract on this site, to whet your appetite. Here Michael describes how writers might use Unlocking the Novella in Flash and more about his work as a mentor. Michael is also teaching two workshops on the novella-in-flash at the Flash Fiction Festival weekend, 8th -10th July in Bristol, U.K. and signed copies will be available to buy there. Read in Full
Michael Loveday’s new guidebook, Unlocking the Novella in Flash – from blank page to finished manuscript is published on May 17th by Ad Hoc Fiction, the third in their guide book series. It is currently available (until publication day) with a 25% discount from Ad Hoc Fiction. The guide book is packed with examples on many different approaches to writing a novella in flash and plenty of exercises to get you started and keep you going. The Bath Novella in Flash Award will open again soon, and close in mid January next year. And if you’re considering writing a novella-in-flash for the Award or elsewhere, if you have one on the go, or are in the middle of one that’s proving problematic, we really recommend you buy this guide book. This really useful extract from the book, about common problems, will whet your appetite. Read in Full
All the novellas in flash shortlisted in the 2022 Bath Novella in Flash Award are excellent and varied in subject matter and style, and we’re delighted that our short short fiction publisher, Ad Hoc Fiction, is able to publish the full set again and all the authors have agreed to publication which is likely to be at some point this year,or early next year. Our judge Michelle Elvy has made comments on all ten novellas Congratulations to shortlisted authors Finnian Burnett, Sheree Shatsky and Jeanette Lowe. We’re really looking forward to seeing their books in print, along with the winners and commended. writers.
You can read Michelle’s insightul comments on The Clothes Make the Man by Finnian Burnett from Canada, Summer 1969 by Sheree Shatsky from the US and Pixie Lore by Jeanette Lowe from the UK and more about the authors below.
The 2023 Novella in Flash Award will open in a couple of months and will end in January 2023. Judge to be announced. And if you are interested in writing one, there’s a new craft guide book, Unlocking the Novella in Flash (from blank page to finished manuscript) by former Bath Flash Fiction Novella in Flash Award judge, writer, editor, coach and tutor, Michael Loveday. Available for preorder now at a 25% discount from the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop. Read in Full
Thank you to all the writers,again over one hundred, who submitted novellas in flash to our 6th Novella in Flash Award, judged this year by Michelle Elvy who also judged the Award in 2021. It’s a challenging form to tackle and we really enjoyed the variety of subject matters and styles within the entries. It was hard to choose the longlist from a very strong field of stories that again extended the scope of this genre.
Many congratulations to the Winners and commended writers: First Prize winner, Caroline Greene from the UK; Runners Up, K. S. Dyal from the US and David Swann from the UK; Highly Commended, Christopher Drew and Jupiter Jones; Commended Kristen Loesch from the US and Slawka G Scarso from Italy and the shortlisted writers: Finnian Burnett from Canada; Jeanette Lowe from the UK and Sheree Shatsky from the US. We have added the bios of all the winning and commended writers and will add the bios for the shortlisted writers soon.
We are very pleased to say that all the ten authors in the shortlist have been offered publication by our small press, Ad Hoc Fiction and we can look forward to up to ten wonderful novellas in flash to add to the eighteen Ad Hoc Fiction has already published.
Our huge thanks to judge Michelle Elvy, whose comments on reading the longlist and her in-depth comments on the shortlist and winners are in her report linked here. We really appreciate her very close reading of all the twenty five manuscripts she received and studied over the past six weeks. She is also a brilliant editor as well, and some of the writers, as they did last year, will I expect, be contacting her for some extra suggestions before publication. Her own hybrid collection the other side of better and her novel in short forms the everrumble are both published by Ad Hoc Fiction.
The seventh Award will be open later this year with a closing date of January 2023. Judge to be announced. And for anyone who wants to read more about tackling the form, Unlocking the Novella in Flash – from blank page to finished manuscript by writer, editor and teacher, Michael Loveday is now open for preorders.
Many thanks to Michelle Elvy for her dedication and enthusiasm for the novella in flash form and for judging our Novella in Flash Award for two consecutive years. This year, Michelle has chosen a first prize winner, two runners-up, two highly commended and two commended novellas in flash. Do read down through her general comments on the longlist and all her insightful remarks about each of the ten writers on the shortlist. We begin with comments on three shortlisted novellas, followed by the commended, highly commended and runners-up. Comments on the winning novella in flash, Lessons at the Water’s Edge are at the end of this post. And you can read the bios of all seven of the winning and commended writers here. Bios of the rest of the shortlisted writers coming soon.
The novella-in-flash form is growing in both popularity and writerly skill, and judging a competition of this standard is no easy task. I read the long-listed stories and noted the range of approach, and all of them captivated me in one way or another
Some take as their starting point a line from someone familiar to us – Margaret Atwood, for example. One novella begins with a Japanese proverb, and one with a Vietnamese legend. I admired the historical detail in some, taking us back to the 1960s, 70s and 80s, even further. In one we encounter Shelley and Byron; in another we see the family story around the history of the perambulator. We see biases and boundaries poked, and we see how fiction can push at the edges and open new spaces. Cultural histories are examined and questioned, too, from India to Hawai‘i. There’s coming of age and coming to terms.
Like all good novels, the novella-in-flash can tackle big themes and pay attention to the finest detail. And this year’s set of long-listed stories did this so well – which presented the first challenge: selecting the short list.
Here I chose a set that represents the variety that the form can take. In all of these, the writing was finely honed and the stories explored their themes in unique ways. There is grief and loss, and growth and joy – perhaps typical human themes but in this short list they are presented in ways that stayed with me.
Many congratulations to all. We’re looking forward to when all these wonderful novellas in flash fiction are published by Ad Hoc Fiction. Read judge Michelle Elvy’s comments on all. And our Award Round Up.
First prize: Lessons at the Water’s Edge: by Caroline Greene
Caroline Greene @cgreene100 is an English Language teacher who’s also worked as an editor and features writer, and as a fund-raiser in the theatre. Her work has
been performed at Liars League, and appeared in the Fish Anthology 2011, Flash Magazine, Splonk and FlashBack Fiction, as well as anthologies from Bath FlashFiction, the National Flash Fiction Day, Flash Fiction Festival and Retreat West.
Runner-Up: It Felt Like Everything by K.S. Dyal
K.S. Dyal is a writer and lawyer from Washington, D.C. She has stories in or coming from SmokeLong Quarterly, JMWW, CHEAP POP, Cleaver Magazine, and elsewhere. She won CutBank’s 2021 Big Sky, Small Prose Flash Contest and placed second in Bath Flash Fiction’s spring 2021 contest. She has previously published under the name K.S. Lokensgard.
Runner-Up: The Twisted Wheel by David Swann
David Swann’s flash fiction collection Stronger Faster Shorter was published in 2015. In 2016 he won the Bridport Flash Fiction Competition, his eighth success in a Prize that he judged in 2013. His other publications include The Privilege of Rain (based on his experiences as a Writer in Residence in jail, and shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award) and The Last Days of Johnny North, a collection of his prize winning short fiction. His novella in flash Season of Bright Sorrow, illustrated by Sam Hubbard won first prize in the Bath Flash Fiction Novella in Flash Award in 2021 and is published by Ad Hoc Fiction. He is currently Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Chichester, where he teaches modules on fiction, poetry, and screenwriting.
Highly Commended: Essence by Christopher Drew
Christopher M Drew lives in Sheffield, UK with his wife and two children. His flash fiction has been published widely in journals such as The Forge Literary Magazine, Splonk, Lunate Fiction, trampset, and SmokeLong Quarterly. His work has featured in Best British & Irish Flash Fiction (2018-19) and Best Microfiction (2021), and has been nominated for Best Small Fictions and Best of the Net. He has served as editor for historical flash fiction journal Flashback Fiction, and is currently Guest Editor for the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2022. You can connect with Chris on Twitter @cmdrew81, or through his website https://chrisdrew81.wixsite.com/cmdrew81.
Highly Commended: Gull Shit Alley and Other Roads to Hell by Jupiter Jones
Jupiter Jones lives in Wales and writes short and flash fictions. She is the two-time winner of the Colm Tóibín International Prize, and her stories have been published by Aesthetica, Brittle Star, Fish, Scottish Arts, and Parthian. Her first novella-in-flash, The Death and Life of Mrs Parker was published by Ad Hoc Fiction and her second, Lovelace Flats by Reflex Press @jupiterjonz
Commended: Presence by Kristen Loesch
Kristen Loesch is an award-winning writer and novelist. Her debut historical novel, THE PORCELAIN DOLL, is out now in the UK (Allison & Busby) and is forthcoming in the US (Berkley) and in eight other territories in 2023. Originally from San Francisco, she now lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children. Twitter: @kristenloesch
Commended: All Their Favourite Stories by Slawka G. Scarso
Slawka G. Scarso works as a copywriter, translator and marketing lecturer and has published several books on Italian wine. Her short fiction in English has appeared/is forthcoming in Mslexia, Ellipsis Zine, Scrawl Place, Spelk, FlashBack Fiction, Fractured Lit, Bending Genres, Five Minutes, Firewords and others. She was shortlisted in the 2022 NFFD Microfiction Competition and longlisted in the 2022 Reflex Press Novella Award. Her flash fiction has also appeared in anthologies such as Snow Crow (Ad Hoc Fiction), Flash Fiction Festival Anthology Volume Four (Ad Hoc Fiction), and in the forthcoming In the Belly of the Whale (Ellipsis Zine).She lives between Castel Gandolfo, a village perched on a dormant volcano near Rome, and Milan. You can find her on Twitter as @nanopausa and on www.nanopausa.com.
In this interview, first prize winning writer, Louise Mangos from our twentieth Award, judged by Karen Jones, tells us how her winning piece came into being. We learn more about how she began writing flash, there’s a link to one of her first prize wins (illustrated by her) from the weekly 150 word story contest run by Ad HocFiction. Before the contest had to stop in 2019 when Ad HocFiction began publishing books in a big way, Louise won it six or seven times. She also tells us about her crime/suspense novels and other projects on the go. Her latest suspense novel,, The Beaten Track is launched in London in a couple of weeks (hope Londoners can get there!) We’ve also wonderful pictures of the Swiss Alps where Louise lives and great tips at the end for flash fiction writers. If you are coming to the flash fiction festival in July, you will meet Louise there and hear her read this story. Read in Full
Robin Thomas’s novella-in- flash fragments, Margot and The Strange Objects is available from our short fiction press, Ad Hoc Fction on pre-order at a 25% discount on the cover price until this coming Friday, 25th March, when our small press is publishing it, along with David Rhymes’ novella in flash, The Last Days of the Union also available for pre-order on discount and Flash Fiction Festival Anthology, Vol. Four, (more details on this anthology coming soon). A great trio of books for the Spring. Here, Robin tells us more about his novella, the process of writing it and more about one of the other absurdist novellas he has been writing in the last months It’s really heartening to know how creative writers have been in the lockdown period and how many different styles of very shortfiction are illustrated in these three books. We love the cover of Robin’s book, shown here. It was designed by Ad Hoc Fiction and we think perfectly conveys the odd and intriguing characters and relationships in this unusual novella.
- At Ad Hoc Fiction, we’ve described your novella, Margot and The Strange Objects as in the absurdist tradition and Michael Loveday, in his cover endorsement, suggests its style is in the same arena as the writings of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. Can you give a synopsis of the story lines and characters? And did that style of writing influence you?
Margot has been left a peculiar collection of ‘strange objects’ by her aunt and is on a quest to find out something about them. Helping or hindering her or engaged on some other project entirely are: two men with a burden called Nimrod, a group of children in search of sardines and ice-cream, a taciturn man with a mysterious hat, a schoolboy who’s good at asking questions, a small dinosaur, a brace of giraffes, an August Personage, George the Oak Tree (a Portuguese-speaking arboreal author), a talking building, a camel, an interfering author and Nobody. Each of these has his, her or their own story line which make minimal contact with each other until the last few pages when they all come together.
I have always enjoyed all kinds of the absurd and surreal – Lear and Carroll certainly but also surrealist painters like Magritte, the writings of Beckett and Borges, the films of Bunuel etc. I think all these and many others influenced me but mostly unconsciously. I think I probably have absurdity in my soul.
- What motivated you to write your novella?
This is very interesting – a few years ago my wife and I were watching a tv programme about Phillip Pulman. On hearing that he aimed at writing a certain number of words a day Mary, my wife turned to me and suggested I do the same. I ended up writing 400 words a day for several months. After a while it looked like it was turning into a story. And that, with many changes, deletions, additions and many helpful comments by others, became Margot.
- Margot and the Strange Objects is a novella in flash-fiction fragments, rather than in stand-alone chapters of flash fictions. Some of the individual pieces are just a couple of sentences long. How did you go about building it and arriving at the final structure?
My unconscious must take much of the responsibility for the content. Consciously, I had to make sure that each of the story lines made ’sense’ in its own right, made contact with the other story lines at appropriate moments and played its own part, being neither dominant nor subservient. An important stage was adding titles to each ‘fragment’ which really helped me ensure that the structure was properly balanced. I had to do quite a bit of work to bring it all together at the end. This involved a lot of trial and error and a lot of checking that no loose ends had been left.
- What were the most challenging and the most satisfying parts of this process?
he most satisfying part was undoubtedly the writing of the 400 word fragments every day. In this phase of things I tried not to look back too far so that each fragment had a chance to develop by itself. Most challenging was the need to delete some parts that I thought worked in their own right but didn’t fit the emerging whole. Checking for inconsistencies, red herrings, things that just didn’t sound right and as I mentioned, pulling it all together at the end of the novella was also very challenging and time and energy consuming.
- You have had several collections of poetry published. Can you tell us more about them?
I’ve had four collections of poetry published now. I like to write about history, family, paintings, music, especially jazz and like to mix up the serious and the less serious with quite a few excursions into the absurd. My last book Cafferty’s Truck, published last year, is a kind of shaggy dog story with one leg in the absurd, the other in the diurnal. Cafferty himself never speaks, the action centring on his truck which goes ‘from here to there and there to here’. It shares some genes with Margot.
- What are you working on at the moment?
Apart from poetry, which I work on every day I have a number of novellas in flash or fragments on the go: there is Lord Merrichip’s Foray which is most advanced and which has something of a similar structure to Margot. It involves a literature and philosophy loving elderly military man and lord of the manor, his gardener cum butler with exemplary knowledge of philosophy, a pair of commoners, Pontius Pilates who habitually speaks in verse and Maid Mary-Anne who speaks in down to earth prose, her mother, who thinks she is rather posh and whose means of advertising it is to speak in Franglais, Mary-Anne’s dad, who has been working in China and who has become an expert on Confucius, Jenny Renne, an inventor responsible for No.17 which is a bad-tempered electric logic chopping machine, Ralph, a vegetarian lion and victim of a category mistake who speaks mainly Cow and whose best friend is indeed a cow – Bets-y-Coed, ducks, sheep, a tram which rides the old Spice route and others. Then there is an absurd novella about the doings of society and club members on the memorable ’Societies Day’ in suburban Loughton in Essex and a novella about Peter, whose soul is in for its yearly service. There are and one or two other novellas in very much an early stage.
Robin Thomas completed the MA in Writing Poetry at Kingston University in 2012. His poems have appeared in many poetry anthologies. He has published four poetry books with Eyewear, Cinnamon and Dempsey and Windle. Margot and the Strange Objects is his first novella-in-flash. He currently has two more simmering away.
We’re excited that Nancy Stohlman has released an audio book of her acclaimed craft guide book, Going Short, an invitation to Flash Fiction. Our small press, Ad Hoc Fiction published it in Autumn 2020 and it has won several awards. You can buy the print from ahocfiction.com bookshop or from Amazon, where you can add in the audio version for a small extra price.
Nancy has narrated the guide book herself, and we are really looking forward to listening to her. She is a wonderful presenter. We thougt it would be interesting to see what sort of impact the audio version made on writers from around the world, listening in different situations and in very different locations. We all know what a difference reading your own work out loud makes. For example, you discover the rhythm, you discover where you need to pause and breathe, you listen to the sound of words, whether the last sentence is the right one, whether the beginning has immediacy.
I (Jude) have asked several writers to see how listening to Nancy read the book might have a different impact on their work. They will report back in a couple of weeks to tell us. But any of you can join in. Just contact me on Jude (at) adhocfiction (dot) com if you are interested. You may be an experienced or beginner flash fiction writer. Currently if you are not subscribed to Audible, it’s possible acquire the book for a free thirty day trial. https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Going-Short-Audiobook/B09MFYX9YK
Writers taking part in the experiment so far are:
Finnian Burnett from Canada, who say they are going to listen while walking on a treadmill.
Cheryl Markosky from Nevis,the Carribean, who is going to find out, she says, if being in the tropics makes the experience of listening more vibrant and colourful as she lives in a permanent soundscape.
April Bradley from the US, who may be going on a long car journey while listening to the book;
Slawka G Scarso, from Milan, Italy. I am not sure where she will be while listening. It could be out in the city, perhaps.
Me (Jude Higgins) who, while listening, is likely to be wandering down muddy country lanes near Bath UK, stopping to inspect primroses, celandines and other early spring flowers.