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Winners of The Moth Short Story Prize 2016 announced 

This year’s prize was judged by John Boyne, the author of a collection of short stories, nine novels for adults and five for younger readers, including The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, a New York Times no. 1 Bestseller that has sold over 6 million copies.  

With thanks to Circle of Misse for the second prize of a week-long writing retreat at their house, which rests on the banks of the Thouet River, a tributary of the Loire.  

1st prize Yellow Belly by Nikki McWatters
‘This story, set in Australia, is compelling for its careful juxtaposition of childhood innocence with the darker sides of family life. The language and descriptive powers of the author suggest a great talent,’ said John Boyne.

Nikki McWatters, who is from Australia, has worked in television acting and drama teaching, and also holds a law degree, but her writing career took off when her memoir, One Way Or Another: The Girl Who Loved Rock Stars, was shortlisted for a Queensland Premier’s Literary Award. Her new young adult novel set in Europe during the witch hunts, is being released in November, and she’s currently writing a novel set in Ireland.

‘It came as a very welcome surprise to learn that I’d won The Moth Short Story Prize,’ says McWatters. ‘I have a deep respect for John Boyne’s work so it was an extra honour to have had my story chosen by him.’

2nd prize Puddles by Sheila Armstrong 
‘There’s an intensity to this story that is brilliantly controlled. Written with almost no dialogue, the sense of pain that lingers over a single street is highly effective in moving the reader.’

Sheila Armstrong is a writer and editor. She grew up in the west of Ireland and is now based in Dublin. She has been published in The South Circular, Literary Orphans, The Irish Independent, Litro magazine and gorse. In 2015, she was nominated for a Hennessy Award in the First Fiction category, and she contributed to Young Irelanders, a short story collection published by New Island Books. She is currently working on her first collection of short fiction.

3rd prize The Hummingbirds by Kelly McCaughrain
‘After a brilliant opening sentence, The Hummingbirds achieves a lightness of touch that is a delight to read. The author’s skill with dialogue is also on display throughout.’

Kelly McCaughrain is 38 and lives in Belfast. She was shortlisted for the Times/Chickenhouse Children’s Fiction Prize 2013 and her first YA novel, Flying Tips for Flightless Birds, will be published by Walker Books next year. When she’s not writing, she works as a student note taker, volunteers with the Fighting Words Belfast creative writing project, and takes long holidays in her 1967 classic campervan, Gerda, with her 1977 classic husband, Michael. She recently completed an English and Creative Writing Degree at Queens University Belfast. This is her first publication.  

All three stories are published in the autumn 2016 issue of The Moth,available to purchase here.