Clements’ “Corpse Flower” wins 2020 short story contest

Rachel Clements has won the 2020 Shooter Short Story Competition with her historical fiction, “Corpse Flower”, about a female botanist working at Kew Gardens in the Victorian era.

Clements’ compelling story, with its convincing historical setting and unusual botanical angle, transported contest readers into the world of scientist Miss Ives, an outsider both at work and at home. Clements drew inspiration for the story from an article about the corpse flower and its noxious scent.

“I was fascinated by the idea that a gorgeous and rare plant could be compared to something so unpleasant as a decomposing corpse,” Clements wrote in an email. “I decided to situate the story in the Victorian era because I felt this would give me an opportunity to explore the experiences of women in this time period – more specifically single women and women working in the sciences.”

Clements, a Cheltenham-based graduate of the University of Gloucestershire’s creative writing program, has previously published work in Popshot Magazine and the Evesham Festival of Words anthology, and also won the University of Gloucestershire’s 2017 novel writing competition. She is on Instagram at @reader_writer_rachel.

The competition’s runner-up, Albert McFarland, achieved second place for his imaginative tale “The Price of Haman”. Contest readers were delighted by this offbeat parable about a husband’s quest to fulfill his wife’s shopping list, with a surreal and deadly twist. McFarland, who lives in California, recently had his first short story published by Phantom Drift.

Several other writers on the competition shortlist were singled out for the strength of their entries. Honourable mentions in this year’s competition include:

Jodie Bond, “The First Woman”

John Buckley, “The Away Match”

Robert Stone, “Cymbeline” and “Missing”

Both “Corpse Flower” and “The Price of Haman” are available to read via Shooter’s Competition Winners page, and Clements’ winning story will also appear in print in Shooter’s 2021 winter issue.

General submissions for the winter issue, as well as the 2020 Shooter Poetry Competition, will open within the next few weeks. In the meantime, to catch up on the best in new literary fiction, non-fiction and poetry, please subscribe to Shooter!