Monday, 7 November 2016

The Apocalypse Alphabet and Other Stories - Sunday 20 November 2016 at the SVA in Stroud

We received 91 stories from 64 writers for our 13th event to be held on Sunday 20 November. I am very grateful to everyone who submitted. The submissions were judged "blind" by Debbie Young and me. Here are the final ten (in librarians' alphabetical order) -

The Acorn and the Oak - Geoff Mead (Kingscote)

The Apocalypse Alphabet - Nastasya Parker (Dursley)

Letter of Complaint - Andrew Stevenson (Nailsworth)

Morning Market Monologue - Ken Clements (Newent)

The Night - Natalie Lee (Stroud)

Porange - Kate O'Grady (Stonehouse)

Sculpted Bones - Steve Wheeler (Stroud)

The Thief - Alex Clark (Cheltenham)

Wayland Smith - Warrior of the Milky Way - Mark Graham (Stroud)

While the Mynah Bird Watched - Chloe Turner (Wotton-under-Edge)

I have no doubt that we will have another brilliant evening of readings, although sadly, many excellent stories have not made it to the final ten.

Eight of our ten authors are new to reading at SSS with only Chloe and Andrew having performed here before. It's certainly the first time we have had an author from Newent, and I think from Stonehouse too.

Massive thanks to the unbelievably busy Debbie Young for sharing judging duties.

Do come along. It's on Sunday 20 November. Doors are at 7.30 for an 8.00 start. It's at the SVA (Stroud Valleys Artspace), John Street, Stroud, GL5 2HA. 

Tickets are £7, and are only available in advance (because we may sell out again), and only from the SVA website -

Observations on the short stories submitted

We now expect submissions to SSS to be generally of a high standard, and Debbie Young and I were not disappointed. There were very many genuinely enjoyable stories. Debbie and I found about 25 of them (a kind of unofficial long list) to be of a quality appropriate for our event. It was a devil of a job to wrest ten from our final fifteen though. We had to leave out some great stories.

Is death the new sex? I wrote back in spring that many of the stories received for the April event were based, or at least included, death as a theme. Same again, but this time with an additional smattering of disease. Is the cause Brexit? Trump? Writers will always be influenced, consciously or unconsciously, by the social and political environment, so such themes are inevitable. But we also have to balance themes when curating an evening's stories. 

SSS regulars know my penchant for amusing, witty or ironic stories and happily three made it to the final ten.

Many short story authors are now writing the even shorter form - flash fiction. The SSS lower limit for submissions is 500 words. We have had a few submitted at that length before, but this time many more. Supporting the case for this form, four of our chosen ten stories weigh in at less than 1,000 words including one at 520 words. Perhaps brevity really is "the soul of wit" (WS). I'll shut up then.


John Holland
Organiser, Stroud Short Stories
Twitter @StroudStories