We decided to launch a short story competition at Shooter (and a poetry competition in the second half of the year) as a complementary means of spotlighting new literary talent. It’s a useful way, beyond the themed requirements of the print magazine, to open up an avenue for writers with diverse concerns and styles to gain notice. Winning a literary competition boosts authors of the future one rung farther up the ladder to publication, helping to attract the attention of publishers or agents. It provides a simple but vital surge of encouragement to writers who might be working in isolation, lacking regular feedback or a sense of their work’s artistic worth.
There was a clear winner of the 2016 Shooter Short Story Competition: Ka Bradley, for “Examination for Empathy, Sympathy, Emotion (ESE) 004”. Inventively framed and immediately absorbing, Bradley’s story zeroed in on the minutiae of a miserable commuter experience with darkly humorous, razor-sharp observation. Fundamentally, it was also beautifully written: the baseline requirement for any good story, whether genre or literary, fantastical or realistic, historical or contemporary. This is what Shooter stands for and seeks to uphold.
The runner-up, Laura Lamb, won second place for her imaginative fable “The Collector”, about the unusual way a man manages to conquer his fear of public speaking. Both stories will be published on Shooter’s website following publication of the summer issue, which will also feature Bradley’s winning story.
An honourable mention goes to Angelita Bradney for “Lobsterfest”, about a waitress at a seafood restaurant on the island of Jersey, who exacts a satisfying revenge on her psychologically abusive boss.
At this early stage, Shooter’s prize money is a small pot compared to many other literary awards, funded solely by proceeds from subscriptions. (Sales of the magazine at bookstores like Foyles, at live literary events, and to subscribers also enable us to pay every issue’s contributors, as well as the cover artist.) We plan to apply for Arts Council funding to increase the competition prizes. As a token of appreciation, at least, all entrants to the competition will receive an e-copy of Shooter’s summer issue, so everyone gains something in return for entering.
As Shooter continues to grow, we aim to increase our support for a high standard of literary writing through greater exposure and magazine circulation, as well as remuneration for authors. In the meantime, huge congratulations to Ka Bradley and Laura Lamb for their compelling work, and many thanks to all the writers who entered the 2016 Shooter Short Story Competition. We hope you’ll keep writing and try again next year!