Judge's Report for Competition One by Tom O’Brien
I’d like to thank Ian for organising this competition and inviting me to read such a selection of fine pieces. I'd like to congratulate all the writers for the standard of the work across the board.
The range of the shortlist gives a glimpse into the ability of flash fiction to tackle any theme, tone or subject. These great stories offer humour, realism, life, death, wish-lists, magic and old age; sometimes in the same story. Choosing amongst them wasn’t easy, but reading them was a pleasure.
Winner: Every Thing We Own by Amy O'Neil is tender, topical and all too real. The language is simple but subtle, describing a small world, balanced on a line where safety risks tipping into claustrophobia. The accumulation of detail paints a picture of love and desperation, of childish optimism and adult fear. The image of Christmas Day at the centre of the piece is poignant and aching but remarkably the story ends on a note of hope.
Commended Story 1: Don’t Fall in Love With Me by Daniel Baldwin is droll and urbane with a knowing use of irony to mask very human vulnerability. There is a great rhythm to the piece and the voice is distinctive, strong and charming - bringing to mind a character from a Tom Waits song (this is a good thing).
Commended Story 2: Evaporation by Sarah Grant is mysterious, glistening with dark imagery in turbulent scenes. Atmospheric locations are an elegantly evoked background to the physical action, while the subtler meanings slide tantalisingly in and out of focus.
Please note - authors names were added to the report after the results of Competition One were declared - before that the stories were anonymised.
Free Flash fiction would like to thank Tom O'Brien. When approached to see if he was interested in being the judge in our first competition, he did not hesitate to say yes.
Tom O'Brien's Novella-in-Flash Straw Gods is available pre-order now at Reflex Press.