The twelve shortlisted collections are a swirling, singing mass of voices that span the range of what flash fiction can offer.
Animal Behaviour – the human condition explored through the lens of animal behaviour helped this collection to stand out as having something to say.
Familial Disturbances – a collection that starts with an explosive first line and never drops below excellent.
Mother Jellyfish – wonderful characterisation that held my heart throughout and shows a depth of understanding of relationships.
Straw Gods – a novella that swept me along an emotional journey and made me care for the characters.
The Heart is an Empty Vessel – This dark collection brings beauty into the horror of loss and would be great for performance.
The Insectarium – I knew from the title this would be unique, the entire collection utterly grabbed me.
The Naming of Bones – A creative journey across time that starts with an outstanding flash I had to re-read several times.
The Way Our Voices Carry – Perfect at the sentence level with each flash building on the previous in waves.
Tract – I was struck by the scope of this novella, by the end I felt as if I’d crept into someone’s whole lifetime.
We Are All Made of Carbon – This collection made me pause for breath following each flash and lit up its words with the use of pictures.
What Remains – There’s a dream-like beauty to these flashes that allows deeper exploration of what it means to live and die.
Zglevians on the Move – Reading this collection left me feeling drunk, I found myself saying ‘yes!’ out loud at many quirky, image-laden lines.
Winner of six month mentoring: Kerry Rawlinson.
Animal Behaviour – Creative, quirky and enjoyable.
Backward-facing Journeys – Shows a deep understanding of human nature.
But In Our Dreams We Dance – Slips through time effortlessly from historical to modern.
Chaos Theory – Superb voice throughout.
Desire Lines – Confident and complex.
Familial Disturbances – Each flash is a gut punch.
Families and Other Natural Disasters – Rich, evocative and playful with form.
Fantastical Flash – Spans the width and depth of fantasy genre.
Mother Jellyfish – Tender, painful exploration.
Playing Roulette at the Lost and Found – Enticing, layered writing.
Some Days are Better Than Ours – Emotionally resonates and displays versatility.
Straw Gods – Strong prose that dares to push boundaries.
The Almost Mothers – Lifts the lid on what often goes unspoken.
The Heart is an Empty Vessel – Bold, brave writing that surprises.
The Insectarium – Dark, different and clever.
The Naming of Bones – Polished prose that digs deep.
The Recluse of Porte Mare – Full of heart and life.
The Way Our Voices Carry – Beautiful writing with stories that resonate.
Tract – Makes great use of the flexibility of flash.
Twenty Four Hours in Devils Creek – Excellent characters and atmosphere.
We Are All Made of Carbon – An intriguing journey across generations and styles.
What if We Were Someone Else? – Strong dialogue with astute observations.
What Remains – Accomplished and poetic prose.
White Space – Moving, understated examination.
Zglevians on the Move – Sharp and inventive with plenty between the lines.
And special mentions to a further three collections that were close to making the longlist:
All The Dead Are Waiting Here
Shoved Down the Path
Strains of the Heart
There were certainly other collections that were longlist-worthy but in the end I wanted to ensure a rich, diverse spread of approaches to what a flash collection could look like so unfortunately had to leave some contenders off this list.