The shortlist for the Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition was announced today and, rather excitingly, my story “Advice re Elephants” is on it. I took a major gamble with this one, as not only did I wait until the very last minute before deciding whether or not to go in for it (so what’s new?) but I took a tactical decision to put in an ultra-short piece – 362 words long. The actual limit for the competition was 3000 words, but I knew that the sole judge, Tania Hershman, is a great evangelist for flash fiction so perhaps it wasn’t quite so much of a risk.
The piece itself had a curious genesis. I originally wrote it for the last round of the poetry section of this year’s Whittaker Prize. Whilst I was writing it, it struck me that there was no obvious need for it to actually be a poem – a comment echoed by the judge, Cathy Edmunds. So I turned it into prose, smoothed down the edges and sent it in with a couple of days to go.
Must say it’s rather cool to be sitting there as one of just
four five representatives from the UK in the shortlist of 22 (out of 849 original entrants apparently), alongside the likes of established authors such as Elizabeth Baines. It’s also nice to see Nora Nadjarian, who I know slightly from Twitter, and Claire King, who I met a few weeks back when we were both on the Bristol Short Story Prize shortlist.