I have reason to suspect that when studious geeks at school try the same psychedelic drugs as the seemingly cool popular kids, the effects may be more extreme. This story is a trip in more ways than one. (Ed.)
“It was Jim who suggested the magic mushrooms. He knew a guy in Lyme. This was the summer of 1990, just before I left for university, when I was still green as common eelgrass. Fiona said her parents would be away the following weekend, so we could do them at hers.”
Michelle Christophorou lives in Surrey, UK. Her short fiction has appeared in various places online and in print, and her story ‘Wearing You’ (FlashFlood journal) was included in the BIFFY 50 list of best UK and Irish flash 2019/20. She is the author of novella-in-flash, KIPRIS (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2021), shortlisted for a Saboteur Award. In 2022, she won the Free Flash Fiction competition and had work shortlisted in both the Bath Flash and Short Story contests. Michelle is a recovering lawyer. Find out more at michellechristophorou.co.uk.
“In the hospital in Sligo Town, the undertaker’s assistant was bathing Bridget Ellen while her children were flying or sailing across the Irish Sea from scattered points throughout England. In trains and cars, others were nearer, Ignatius, the youngest of all of them, even had time for a drink.”
Marion Urch McNulty is an award-winning artist and writer. Her first novel Violent Shadows (Headline Review) was published in the UK in 1996. Her second novel An Invitation to Dance (Brandon 2009). Various short stories have been published in Ireland, England, Canada and the US. Her video works are held in galleries around the world and archived by the University of Dundee.
The Rings is part of a collection of short stories titled Of Love and Other Miracles which playfully subverts the lives of the saints.
We're back with a new series of original short stories online. Don't worry, the reprints are still there somewhere on the menu too. And what better way to start the year than with a tale of young people in a northern town, somewhere near the sea and the eternal question about staying or leaving. Ed.
“There was a far-off shimmer to the north, and Da told her it was the glow of Newcastle, luring the unwary with her swagger and shine. Annie knew he’d made it up, that you wouldn’t be able to see the city lights from so far away, but she went along with it unquestioningly, as though she believed every word. ”
Amanda Hugginsis the author of the novellas Crossing the Lines and All Our Squandered Beauty as well as several collections of short stories and poetry. Her work has also appeared in a wide range of journals and newspapers and on BBC Radio. She has won numerous awards, including three Saboteur Awards, the BGTW New Travel Writer of the Year, and the Colm Tóibín and H E Bates short story prizes. She was also a runner-up in the Costa Short Story Award and the Fish Short Story Prize, and has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and many others.
This feature is open for submissions again from 5 January 2023.
Story of the Month is an occasional feature for literary fiction. The word range for new submissions is from 1000 to 3000 words. There is no reading fee. Payment is a copy of one of our past anthologies. Please read the guidelines in full before submitting. We are seeking to publish new stories by writers not previously featured in Story of the Month or not featured for more than a year. Story of the Month is online only, not for print publication.
“Who will take the coveted one-off Willesden Herald inscribed The Willesden Short Story Prize 2022? All will be revealed on the night. Plus ten cash prizes to the writers of the stories in New Short Stories 12. From The Performance Space, upstairs in The Library at Willesden Green.”
David Butler’s most recent short story collection is Fugitive (Arlen House, 2021). His novel City of Dis (New Island) was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, 2015.
Helen Harjak was born in Estonia, studied literature and philosophy in Scotland, and now lives in London, where she works as a freelance journalist and copy-editor. Her fiction has been published in Okay Donkey, Visual Verse, Fudoki Magazine, and Small Good Things, an anthology by Dahlia Books.
Catherine McNamara grew up in Sydney, ran away to Paris to write and ended up in West Africa co-running a bar. Love Stories for Hectic People won Best Short Story Collection in the Saboteur Awards 2021. The Cartography of Others was finalist in the People’s Book Prize. Catherine lives in Italy and her stories have been published widely.
Andy Mead is a retired teacher who was brought up in Jamaica in the 1960’s and still retains strong links with that island he still regards as home. He has an MA in creative writing from the University of Chichester and is now a private tutor, writer and storyteller.
Jackie Morris is a recent graduate of The Open University’s MA in Creative Writing (2021). She writes short form and flash fiction and spends far too much time on Twitter. Her husband has no interest in chickens.
Peter Newall was born in Sydney, Australia, where he worked variously in a naval dockyard, as a musician and as a lawyer, but has since lived in Kyoto, Japan, and now in Odessa, Ukraine, where he sings for a popular local r’n’b group, the Newall Band. He has been published in England, Hong Kong, Australia and the USA.
Diana Powell’s stories have featured in a number of competitions, including the 2020 SoA ALCS Tom-Gallon Award (runner-up) and the 2019 ChipLit Prize (winner) and most recently the Bristol Short Story Prize 2022 (winner). They have also been published in several anthologies and journals, such as ‘Best (British) Short Stories 2020’. Her novella, ‘Esther Bligh’, was published in 2018 by Holland House Books. Her collection, ‘Trouble Crossing the Bridge’ came out in 2020. Her novella, ‘The Sisters of Cynvael’, won the 2021 Cinnamon Press Literature Award, and will be published next year.
Anju Sharma grew up in Uttar Pradesh, India, majored in history from Delhi University, worked as a copy-writer, taught copywriting, then went back to being a student – this time of literature – purely through the act of intense reading. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Maine Review, The Margins, The Forge and Nelle. She is shortlisted for Bridport Short Story Prize 2022 and longlisted for Desperate Literature Short Fiction prize 2022. She is presently working on a novel.
Lui Sit writes in multiple genres including adult short fiction, memoir and children’s middle grade books. She is an alumnus of several writers’ development schemes including A Brief Pause, London Writers Award and Penguin WriteNow. Her stories are published in journals and anthologies including MAINSTREAM, Superlative, Short Good Things, Fudoki, City of Stories and Out of The Box. Update: Writing for children, Lui Sit has just won the Faber FAB Prize 2022for text with “The Legend of Linger Island” (Puffin).
Zakia Uddin is a short story writer whose previous work has been published by The White Review, The Stinging Fly and Granta. Winner of the Willesden Herald short story prize 2022. She lives in London.
Jarred McGinnis was chosen by the Guardian as one of the UK’s ten best emerging writers. His debut novel ‘The Coward’ was selected for BBC 2’s Between the Covers, BBC Radio 2’s Book Club and listed for the Barbellion Prize. The French edition won the First Novel Prize and was selected for the prestigious Femina prize. He is the winner of the 2023 Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer’s Award. His short fiction has been commissioned for BBC Radio 4 and appeared in respected journals in the UK, Canada, USA and Ireland. JarredMcGinnis.com
The ten stories shortlisted for the Willesden Short Story Prize 2022 in alphabetical order by author
Shoes by David Butler
Remembering Not Forgetting by Helen Harjak
Vevey by Catherine McNamara
Haircut by Andy Mead
Cuckquean by Jackie Morris
My Last Journey with Baron Baldanders by Peter Newall
Empathy by Diana Powell
Things we see, things we don’t by Anju Sharma
Forecast for Rain by Lui Sit
Hotline by Zakia Uddin
Thanks to all who entered for making our selection task so difficult with the high standard of writing. The total number of entries was 371. It was painful having to leave out many outstanding short stories.
There will be a special event to announce 1st prize and runners-up and to launch the anthology, New Short Stories 12. Details to follow.