Announcing the winner of the Bazaar of Bad Dreams story competition

January 30, 2016

Stephen King poses at an undisclosed location on May 13, 2011. King is author of "11/22/63." Photographer: Shane Leonard/Simon and Schuster via Bloomberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: NO SALES. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

Stephen King poses at an undisclosed location on May 13, 2011. King is author of "11/22/63." Photographer: Shane Leonard/Simon and Schuster via Bloomberg EDITOR'S NOTE: NO SALES. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

Announcing the winner of the Guardian-Hodder The Bazaar of Bad Dreams story competition as chosen by Stephen King…

Hodder and the Guardian are delighted to announce the winner of the story competition inspired by The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King.

Stephen King who was invited to choose the winner was delighted with the shortlist:  ‘My congratulations to all. I never expected such quality, and it does my heart good…These are really extraordinary… every one of these stories would be publishable …This made choosing a winner exceptionally difficult.’

He observed that ‘all of the writers are also readers, who have internalized the most important thing about the short story—never tell too much’

He concluded:  ‘My favorite, however – and the winner – is “Wild Swimming” by Elodie Harper…It is told via email, making it part of a small but interesting genre: the 21st century epistolary tale. I loved the central conceit of the drowned village, I loved Chrissy’s voice (she is the narrator), and I loved that sense of mounting dread… One passage could have come straight out of an EC horror comic from the 50s. Once again, we are told not too much (that the Russians may have deliberately drowned the inhabitants, for instance), but just enough. The central plot element—wild swimming–is new and novel, something I’d never encountered before.’

Stephen King noted the particular attributes in the following stories:

‘The Unpicking’ by Michael Button is a delightfully sinister, intriguing and satisfyingly macabre addition to the genre of toy stories

Two stories expertly illustrated the art of never telling too much – ‘In “La Mort de L’Amant” by Stuart Johnstone for instance, we never actually see the body in the back of the main character’s vehicle, but we know it’s there. In “The Bear Trap” by Neil Hudson we are never told exactly what disaster has befallen, but based on some of the details (all that fallen ash, for instance), we can assume it may have been nuclear Armageddon.’

‘The Spots’ by Paul Bassett Davies is, as King describes ‘mordantly funny. The totalitarian society seems based on North Korea…It is sinister and satirical…Poe would have liked it’

As King explains, ‘Eau-de-Eric” by Manuela Saragosa shone because of its ‘good, clean prose and clarity of narration. It has a beautifully sinister build. Adding to this is the contrast between the little girl’s love for her daddy and the mother’s understanding of what a monster daddy really was.’

Elodie Harper’s winning piece is available to read on the Guardian and she has also secured a place at a Guardian Masterclass run by Philippa Pride, Stephen King’s editor.  In addition, the promoters and Stephen King are delighted to give a signed copy of The Bazaar of Bad Dreams to each of the 6 shortlisted authors.

Once again, the organisers would like to thank all those who entered their wonderful short stories.  Each one was read with respect – we appreciate just how much writers put in to crafting their work – and selecting the stories for each stage of the process was carefully considered and on a level playing field (the promoters did not take into account whether or not the writer was published or had representation). Many of those who submitted their pieces have asked whether we could share the names of those on the long list.  So please also join us also in congratulating the following:

Alexander Agbamu – A ROOMFUL OF STRANGERS

Sean Baker – GRANTCHESTER MEADOWS IN THE SUMMER AT DAWN

Paul Bassett Davies – THE SPOTS

Michael Button – THE UNPICKING

Anthony Bynom – A SMALL BORDER INCIDENT

Kate Ennals – THE LAST WALTZ

James Harding – THE STEPS

Elodie Harper – WILD SWIMMING

Lisa Hayter – A KISS IN THE DARK

Neil Hudson – THE BEAR TRAP

Stuart Johnstone – LA MORT DE L’AMANT

Kelly Pells – THE UNKINDNESS OF RAVENS

David Pickering – THE GHOST AT THE FOOT OF THE STAIRS

Victoria Richards – THE CAMERA

Valentin Richitta – THE ECHOES OF A RITUAL

Manuela Saragosa – EAU-DE-ERIC

Jon Sparey – SATISFACTION BROUGHT IT BACK

Josephine Turner – BEHIND THE YELLOW LINE

R.T.Young – SO LONG

Ryan Willox – THE NIGHTWATCHMAN’S TALE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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