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RULES
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AND THE WINNERS OF THE MOTH SHORT STORY PRIZE 2022 ARE …


Cock’s Eye Moon by Lara Saunders (1st Prize)

Lara Saunders is a creative writing graduate and social worker living and writing on Peramangk land in South Australia. Her work has been twice shortlisted for the Victoria University Short Story Prize and twice longlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize. She was a recipient of the 2021 SA Emerging Writers Fellowship and is currently working on a novel-length story.
 
Judge’s comment:
‘This is a clear winner and a wonderful story ‒ tight, atmospheric, dramatic ‒ and it was really compelling to read from beginning to end. The narrative voice completely inhabits the character and filters the whole proceedings. The author really understands how to enclose and frame a short story, how to use character dynamics and development to increase tension and intrigue, and how to draw the reader into a disquieting world without losing authenticity and credibility. The prose is natural and evocative, descriptive but not overdone, with some absolutely beautiful phrasing. As with all great short stories it has its own torque, that subversive un-guessable feeling, a satisfying, and in this case tragic, payoff at the end.’   
 
‘I am so proud that it found a home within the beautifully crafted pages of The Moth.’ Lara Saunders
 
You can read Lara’s story in the Irish Times


Double Happiness by Louise Miller (2nd Prize) 

Louise Miller was born in Glasgow, has lived in Sydney, Bahrain and Bali and now lives in London. She graduated from the MFA Writing programme at the University of Nebraska in Omaha in 2013. Her food-themed stories are a result of a curiosity for the surreal and relief from the demands of standing for long hours as a professional chef. Committed to writing, despite a day job with the NHS now, she is passionate about the short story form.
 
Judge’s comment:
‘I just love the strangeness and compression of this story, its tight focus and address, and the unpredictable quality. The details and observations are astute and the tone is very unsettling. The information withheld by the protagonist is interpretable by the reader and allows a greater sense of understanding and disquiet, as we know more than she... It’s a complete little gothic tale, domestically occult, surprising, but still emotionally moving and human. It pulls no punches, and chooses a careful narrative frame but the reader still has a (horrifying!) sense of what lies beyond its borders.’

 
If Ye Love Me by Joe Richards (3rd Prize)
 
Joe Richards was born in Worcestershire in 1946 and studied Theatre at Dartington College of Arts at Hull University. He worked as an actor and director for many years and taught Theatre at Dartington and at Plymouth University. He has written plays for radio (BBC Radio 3) and for stage, including ‘Big Book for Girls’, a ‘glorious piss-take of 1930s girls’ boarding school adventure stories, described as ‘gleefully perverse’ by the Financial Times and ‘blissful’ by The Observer.

Judge’s comment:
‘A striding story that covers so much ground with really evocative detail and momentum. To begin with it seems like a memory piece but takes on a plot-life of its own, to become a complete narrative rather than just a reflection. The dynamics between boys, parents and overseers ‒ both neglectful and pastoral ‒ are so well portrayed, with heart-rending moments, humour and wit, and a real understanding of psychology.’ 
 
All three stories are published in the autumn 2022 issue of The Moth, available to purchase here.
 

COMMENDED STORIES:
 
As She Lay Dying by David Hanson
David Hanson grew up in a stagnating northern town before escaping to university in a resurgent northern city. He travelled the world, fell in love and moved to London. After finding neither fame nor fortune, he moved to rural Essex to start a family, a business, a covers band … and to pursue his dream of becoming a writer.
 
Dip by Madeleine Rebbechi
Madeleine Rebbechi is a writer and book publicist based in Naarm/Melbourne. She has written music and arts reviews, radio scripts and media kits, but her true love is fiction. She is currently undertaking a Master of Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing at the University of Melbourne.
 
Ambition by Bernard Steeds
Bernard Steeds has won several awards for short fiction and non-fiction, and has published one collection of short stories, Water (Penguin Books). His work has featured in various journals and anthologies including Exposition Review and The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories. He lives in Wellington, New Zealand.
 
The Brain Named Itself by Jude Whiley
Jude Whiley is a student of Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London. He is features editor at Yuck magazine and previously studied with Faber and Faber on their ‘Writing a Novel’ course. His fiction has been published in The Moth and is due to be published in The Forge. His non-fiction has been published by The Fence. He is currently working on a short story collection. 


ABOUT THE PRIZE

The Moth Short Story Prize is an international prize, open to anyone from anywhere in the world as long as their story is original and previously unpublished. The winners are chosen by a single judge each year, who reads the stories anonymously. 
 
‘A total pleasure judging this. This was an exceptional set of stories.’ Ali Smith, 2021 judge

‘The Moth Short Story Prize is hugely important to me. Short stories give writers and readers the opportunity to experiment with all kinds of approaches and effects that might not work over the sustained length of a novel, and sometimes to talk about things that we might not be able to approach in any other way. The Moth is a fantastic champion of that.’ Owen Booth, 2020 winner
‘To see my story in a publication that has done as much for writers as The Moth is the most astounding and unexpected affirmation I could have imagined.’ Conor Crummey, 2019 winner
 
‘This seal of approval is superglue for the sanity! I am mighty grateful.’ Caoilinn Hughes, 2018 winner
 
Previous judges include Mike McCormack, Belinda McKeon, Donal Ryan, Kit de Waal, Kevin Barry, Mark Haddon and Ali Smith.
 
The Prize was judged this year by Sarah Hall, the prizewinning author of three short story collections and six novels, and former judge of the Man Booker Prize and the Sunday Times (EFG/Audible). ‘A writer of show-stopping genius’ Guardian
 
 
With thanks to Circle of Misse (www.circleofmisse.com) for the superb second prize of a week-long writing retreat in France and a travel stipend of €250. Their house rests on the banks of the Thouet River (a tributary of the Loire), ‘thouet’ being the ancient Gallic word for ‘tranquil’.
 
Call 00 353 87 2657251 or email enquiries@themothmagazine.com for more details