Flash 500 Novel Opening Competition shortlist!

In all honesty, I have found this year an absolute slog, writing-wise. From talking to writer friends I know I’m not alone in this – perhaps there’s a collective post-pandemic weariness, or taking stock, or recalibration going on. Whatever the reason, I’ve had to give myself permission to not worry about writing and editing book two when I can’t face it. Instead I’ve done a variety of online workshops and courses that sounded like fun, with the aim of recapturing the spark.

The few competitions I’ve entered have been a wash out as well and as you no doubt already know, dear reader, it doesn’t take long for the old writing confidence to feel pummeled. So I’m very happy to be ending the year with an unexpected shortlisting for my novel Fundamental Things in the Flash 500 Novel Opening Competition 2022.

This is the fourth time I’ve entered the manuscript into a competition and the fourth time it’s placed, so I know there must be something that appeals. It is a gentle tale, set in a small seaside village, about a grieving grandfather and granddaughter who learn to communicate through the universal language of classic films. It’s about healing, family, seagulls and stale biscuits. There’s also ballroom dancing (inspired by Fred and Ginger).

The shortlisted books are:

  • A Girl Called Redemption by Sophie Neville
  • Dancing Elsewhere by Sue Lee
  • Don’t See, Don’t Tell by Rob McIvor
  • Fundamental Things by Anne O’Leary
  • Godfellas by Nicola Whyte
  • Letters from the Mountains by Patricia Tarrant Brown
  • Little Fishes by Dani Williams
  • Love is for the Brave by Sophie Neville
  • Reinventing Judith by Nola d’Enis
  • The Disappearance of Liam Nolan by Teresa Sweeney
  • The Echoes by Vikki McLean
  • The Five Lives of Kazia Kianga by Vikki McLean
  • The Past is Forever by Kelvin MacGregor
  • The Recipe Of You by Kieran Marsh
  • Vestiges by Christine Whittemore

Huge congratulations to winner Nicola Whyte for Godfellas and runner-up Kelvin MacGregor for The Past is Forever, whose books sound wonderful.

The competition is run annually by Flash 500, with Headline Publishing – who publish writers such as Maggie O’Farrell and Neil Gaiman – as the final judges. If you’re considering entering next year, they require just the first 3,000 words and a synopsis, details here.

I am off to celebrate with a stale Bourbon Cream, which is what my elderly protagonist Tommy would want. Cheers!


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