Judging the flash fiction entries for Stage 2 of The Lane of Unusual Traders has been pure delight. It was a privilege to plunge back through that enigmatic gateway and discover a host of new shops and personalities, and to encounter some old friends – and enemies.
The standard of the submissions received was high, resulting in robust debate among the judges (I was at one point challenged to a duel to the death, ice swords at fifty paces, which was slightly alarming) and some tough decisions. The criteria have been discussed here. Tom preferred stories that fulfilled the stated brief of populating lots in the Lane, while I was more open to ‘street stories’ not attached to a specific shop. We’ve ended up with a nice balance.
We looked for engaging characters and fascinating, original ideas – preferably opening up new avenues for Lane writers to explore in the future. While we value stylistically strong writing, we were prepared to offer editorial assistance with those stories that, though needing a little polish, won our hearts with truly captivating characters, concepts and imagery. So, the stories that have found a home in The Lane are:
- Sarah Peploe – The Kiosk
- Stewart C. Baker – A Solitary Stair
- Deborah Walker – The Last of the Beetle Wing
- Guan Un – Buttons
- Courtney Frederiksen – The Courier
- Chris White – The Changed One
- Alan Graham – Inkspell
Story Lots under construction are:
- Alayna Cole – Rumours
- Debb Bouch – Grief’s Gallery
- Alice Brook – Magpie
- Adam Byatt – The Ossuary of Lost and Found
I’d like to reiterate Tom’s online comments that authors not selected this time round shouldn’t feel discouraged. Some truly lovely pieces didn’t make the list for reasons the author couldn’t possibly control, such as being too similar to a story already selected in Stage 1. Please keep writing, and get those short stories in by the May 31st deadline – we can’t wait to read them.