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Interview | 2018 Short Story Prize Judges!

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With only a few weeks remaining for our Short Story Prize for this year, we thought we would catch up with our judges to ask them what they thought makes a good short story, and what they were looking for in the submissions. Read below for what their thoughts!

About our judges:

Samuel Fisher‘s debut novel, The Chameleon, was published by Salt in 2018. He runs a bookshop in East London called Burley Fisher Books, and is a director of Peninsula Press.

 

 

 

 

Layla Benitez-James is a writer, translator and artist living and working in Spain, where she serves as Director of Literary Outreach for the Unamuno Author Series in Madrid. Layla also serves as Podcast Editor for Asymptote Journal, and her poems and translations have appeared in The Acentos Review, Anomaly, Guernica, Waxwing, Revista Kokoro, La Galla Ciencia, and elsewhere. Her audio essays about translation can be found at Asymptote Journal Podcast. Her first chapbook, God Suspected My Heart Was a Geode But He Had to Make Sure was selected by Major Jackson for the 2017 Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize and published by Jai-Alai Books in Miami, April 2018.

Harry Mount is the Editor of The Oldie. He is author of Amo, Amas, Amat and All That, as well as Odyssey – Ancient Greece in Odysseus’s Footsteps.

 

 

 

What do you think makes a great short story?

Sam: A writer that picks the right details. Because of the constraints of the form, details have more metonymic heft than in longer form fiction — they have to do more. The best short stories have an uncanny focus on picking the aspect of a scene (the quality of light, the way a laugh resounds), which cut to the heart of what the scene is trying to convey.

Layla: Well crafted characters, characters that feel real from the very beginning and make me forget that I´m reading fiction. Ryan Harty’s Why the Sky Turns Red When the Sun Goes Down comes to mind as a great short story that pulled me into the life of a couple instantly with just a few lines of good dialogue. 

HarryA proper story with a beginning, middle and end, with a proper feeling of drama and suspense.

What is one thing you’re looking for when reading the competition entries?

Sam: That the story sets the terms for its success, and then meets them.

Layla: A surprising voice or some focus on a slice of life I don´t know well. I´m interested in stories that push against the boundaries of genre and make me reconsider what fiction can do. 

Harry: Brilliant writing.

What inspires your writing?

Sam: At the moment, rage and despair at the mounting inequality and illiberism here and around the world (pretty cheery, I know).

Layla: Travelling, snippets of overheard conversations. I am very inspired by the natural world: geology…foxes…hyenas lately. Spanish has been creeping into my writing more and more and I am definitely interested in multilingual texts and writers who are blending in more creative linguistic play into their work.  

Harry: Think of the poor bloody reader! Be interesting, funny or sad.

What are your top tips for anyone considering entering the competition?

Sam: Share your writing with a reader you trust before sending it on, it’s always helpful to have a critical eye. Read your work aloud.

Layla: Send in something you love to read aloud to yourself, something that makes you happy to have written. Strange to write this as a judge, but don’t think about who will be reading, write something that you have never yet seen in the world and make it your own. 

Harry: Read the short stories of F Scott Fitzgerald and Evelyn Waugh’s shortest novels.

For more information and to enter The London Magazine Short Story Prize 2018, go here.

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Short Story Competition 2016

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This competition is now closed.

Thanks to all who entered. The longlist, shortlist and winners will be announced over the next few months. Keep checking our ‘Competitions’ section and sign up to our newsletter for updates.


Autumn is here, which means The London Magazine‘s Short Story Competition 2016 is upon us.

The London Magazine has published short stories by some of the most well-respected literary figures over the course of long history. Our annual Short Story Competition seeks out new voices to join them. Established to encourage emerging literary talent, the award provides an opportunity for publication and recognition, as well as rewarding imagination, originality and creativity. The London Magazine is looking for unpublished short stories under 4,000 words from writers across the world. The story that wins first-place will be published in a future issue of The London Magazine. The second and third place stories will be published on our website. Prize winners will also be invited to a reception in early 2017.

Entry fee: £10 per short story (there is no limit to the number of entries you can submit)

Opening date: 1st September 2016
Closing Date: 31st October 2016
Deadline Extended To: 14th November

First Prize: £500
Second Prize: £300
Third Prize: £200


Judges:

Erica Wagner is an author and editor. For 17 years literary editor of The Times, and twice a judge of the Man Booker prize, she is now Lecturer in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, a contributing writer for the New Statesman and consulting literary editor for Harper’s Bazaar. She is the author of Gravity: Stories; Ariel’s Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and the Story of Birthday Letters and Seizure, a novel. Pas de Deux/A Concert of Stories, co-written with storyteller Abbi Patrix and musician and composer Linda Edsjö, tours around the world. First Light: A Celebration of Alan Garner, has just been published by Unbound, and her biography of Washington Roebling, chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, will be published by Bloomsbury in 2017.

Max Porter

 

Max Porter is an editorial director of Granta and Portobello Books. His authors include Han Kang, Eleanor Catton, Ben Marcus, Sarah Moss and Caroline Lucas. His debut novel Grief is the Thing With Feathers was published in 2015. It won the International Dylan Thomas Prize and will be translated into 23 languages. He lives in South London with his family.

 

Angus CargillAngus Cargill is Editorial Director at Faber & Faber, where he was worked since 2000. He edits and publishes writers such as Kazuo Ishiguro, Sebastian Barry, Jane Harris, David Peace, Nadeem Aslam and Lucy Caldwell, as well as non-fiction authors Peter Pomerantsev, Nick Kent and Barney Hoskyns. He also runs Faber’s crime list – which includes Peter Swanson, Chris Pavone, Laura Lippman, Stav Sherez and Alafair Burke, among others – and has published a number of graphic novels, by Emily Carroll, Craig Thompson and Adrian Tomine.

Read The London Magazine’s interviews with the judges here.


Submission:

As of 1st September, you’ll be able to apply via Submittable here:

submit
Alternatively, you can download the Short Story Competition 2016 Entry Form to fill in and post with your entry. (N.B. There is no need to complete an entry form if entering via Submittable)

Important:
Please read our competition rules carefully before entering.
If you have any questions, please contact Abi at competition@thelondonmagazine.org.
To receive competition updates and all the latest news and offers, sign up for The London Magazine‘s Official Newsletter.
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates!

 

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