Stephen Moran, head honcho of the Willesden Herald, has invited me to judge this year’s Willesden Prize, aka ‘The Willesden Herald New Short Stories Competition 2017’, and I’m a bit worried I won’t be up to the job, because the only thing I’m good for right now is listening to music (mostly, this past week or so, The Psychedelic Furs). This month I’ve also started, but not finished reading, several lengthy novels. I’m hoping it won’t be like that when it comes to reading the shortlist. The not finishing, I mean. But then, it’s rare for me not to finish a short story, or not hear the end of a song. No doubt commitment comes into it. The end of a novel or TV series can feel so far off you’ll never get there, and sometimes it seems the writers have had trouble getting there, too.
But songs and stories tunnel into their content instead of finding ways around or over it. I love tunnels: old railway tunnels, foot tunnels, even disused mines, especially when they lead somewhere unexpected. Another country, an underground concert, a beach with no visible path leading to it…
(…not a request for stories featuring tunnels as much as for surprises.) If you’re thinking of giving this a go, here’s a bit more info.
The Willesden Herald New Short Stories Competition
The Willesden Prize is open to anyone, anywhere, writing short stories in English. Length and theme are unimportant – just send the best unpublished piece you have, up to a max of 7500 words. Entries are read blind.
Closing date: August 31
Entries must be sent via the online entry page, with an entry fee of £7.50.
The winners announcement will be made probably in October or November. Stories by the ten shortlisted writers will be included in the a paperback book to be published, by December 2017, “Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 10”. (If you’re curious, find the back issues here.) Each contributing writer will receive two comp copies. Entry fees help pay for the anthology and prizes.
£1200 in prizes
This prize is not all about the money, far from it. Everyone who works on it, sifting, doing admin, judging and editing the anthology, does so on a voluntary basis — but… A prize fund of £1,200 will be split between the 10 shortlisted writers. The winner receives a Willesden Herald mug plus £300, the runner-up £200, and 8 short-listed writers each receive £75.