Short story competition: Read the winning stories here
PUBLISHED: 11:34 18 March 2016
Kent Life’s very first Short Story Competition attracted a wealth of entries and selecting the best of the best was a difficult task but we have them here for you to read
Astounding: the only word to describe the entries for Kent Life’s very first short story competition; not only in terms of quantity, but also quality. The overall standard was extremely high and comparable to what one would expect of international competitions.
There was a wide variety of genres, ranging from gritty realism to historical fiction, romance, ghost stories and the supernatural to memoirs and personal reminiscences.
Several stories referred to famous Kentish figures including Churchill, Dickens and Thomas Wyatt, while others focused on the humbler, but no less interesting stories of ordinary people.
Celebrated landmarks and homes provided the setting for several stories, including Kit’s Coty, Hever Castle, Chartwell, Bleak House and Knole. The geographical range encompassed all corners of the county from north Kent to Romney Marsh. Coastal towns and landmarks proved particularly popular with references to Broadstairs, Dover, Ramsgate, Pegwell Bay, Folkestone, Margate and the Goodwin Sands.
Fascinating aspects of Kentish agriculture and fishing emerged with a reference to a lost heritage apple the ‘White’s Transparent’ and the story of how a young boy went to work on a Ramsgate fishing smack and lodged in the wonderfully named Smack Boys’ Home.
Kent’s unique history provided rich pickings for our writers, with stories ranging from the Norman Conquest to World Wars One and Two. Solid research and personal reminiscences provided fascinating insights into the Women’s Land Army, an air-raid on Ramsgate and German PoWs working as farm labourers in north Kent.
I feel extremely privileged to have judged this competition. Settling down to read all these wonderful stories on a dark winter afternoon was a real treat. Congratulations to all who took part … and keep writing! There will be a chance to enter another Kent Life short story competition at the end of this year.
Joint 1st: The Unravelling of Mr Growler by Michele Sheldon
Strong narrative, good description and a clever twist at the end. Set in Folkestone, this refers to the Warren and cross-Channel traffic. It is cleverly conceived giving a unique twist to a popular Kentish theme. Despite the limitations of the word count, the reader gets to know a lot about the heroine Emily without any superfluous information. Her side-kick Mr Growler is beautifully depicted, both admirable and repellent!
Read The Unravelling of Mr Growler here
Joint 1st: Dreamland by Rose McGinty
This prize-fighter of a story starts with a beating and continues to punch its way through to the end when it delivers a killer blow. The narrative is harsh and gritty with a pace and tension that never flag. The combination of bleak despair and deprivation set against the backdrop of Margate’s theme park is extremely powerful. A chilling story that haunts long after it is finished.
Read Dreamland here
3rd: Fate Perhaps by Jill Anabona Smith
This is a really well-written story; an excellent, well-executed plot with a crisp narrative style and dialogue. Despite the short length, there are several twists and turns and a real sting in the tail. Surprise follows surprise as sinister thread is combined with wry humour. I loved the description of a Thanet car park in the rain.
Read Fate Perhaps here
Ashford-based historical novelist Truda Thurai, whose published works include The Devil Dancers and Barley Bread and Cheese, scrutinised every entry and Kent Life is indebted to her invaluable feedback and comments to the winning writers.