The 2013 Winchester Writers’ Conference
Announcing the winner to our writing competition:
Hampshire Chronicle Short Story Competition; Murder in Mind
Winner: Patricia Morgan
Murder in Mind, ‘Best of Three’ Adjudication:
This is a razon-sharp story . . . truly outstanding, and hence this year’s winner.The sharpness in the story reflects the nature of the subject matter, and is reminiscent of Martin Amis’ very slick writing about the criminal underworld. (think as well of Peter Greenaway’s, and, of course, Quentin Tarantino’s extrememly graphic rendering of similar situations in film). A gangster, Mr Red, kidnaps the executes his enemies depending on the answer they give to the question ‘what will happen to me when I’m dead?’ The situation is tense, the sentences are duly short, spiky, they don’t necaeesarily join up in obvious or predictable ways (there are even very short, one-sentence paragraphs as well). The similies are unusual: ‘All three men wore, if not black, then dark clothes, as if they were spawned in the night and had stayed there’. Like the prisoners in the story, we don’t know what’s going to happen next . . . which is thrilling for us . . .
Mr Red’s question ‘what will happen to me when I’m dead?’ determines the fate of the three prisoners.
The first prisoner gives an honest answer, ‘You will burn in hell.’ He is executed but the writing so enjoys telling the deatils that it is aesthetically thrilling . . .
The implication of the story is that writing is nothing less than a life and death matter. Thus its moral, at a ‘metafictional’ level of reference, reinforces the idea (which is as old as Greek tradgedy) that art is our trump card in the face of human suffering.
Patricia Morgan plays a mean game of cards with this splendid short story, ‘Best of Three’.
This is part of the appraisal by Professor Farnell, University of Winchester Arts Faculty, he adds, in an e mail to me; Each year in the short story competition there is always one entry that is clearly outstanding, and this makes my task as adjudicator all the easier. This year that outstanding entry was yours (ahead of previous winners of the competition).
Winchester Writers’ Conference Best of 2013 is available for £8.95 in which ‘Best of Three’ takes pride of place at the beginning.