Stephen Booth is H.E. Bates Short Story Competition 2012 Judge

The long-running H.E. Bates competition is back and has a theme and a new judge! I’m delighted to announce that prolific crime novelist Stephen Booth is our judge this year.

‘A walk at midnight’ was chosen as our theme for 2012 because many of his stories depict life in the rural Midlands of England, particularly his native Northamptonshire and, as Wikipedia says, H.E. Bates was partial to taking long midnight walks around the Northamptonshire countryside and this often provided the inspiration for his stories. Bates was a great lover of the countryside and the people, as exemplified in two volumes of essays entitled Through the Woods and Down the River. Both have been reprinted numerous times.

Herbert Ernest Bates, CBE (1905–74), better known as H. E. Bates, was an English writer and author. His best-known works include Love for LydiaThe Darling Buds of May, (starring David Jason and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Pam Ferris amongst others) and My Uncle Silas. Bates was born on May 16, 1905 in Rushden, Northamptonshire, and educated at Kettering Grammar School. After leaving school, he worked as a reporter and a warehouse clerk.

Run by the Northampton Writers Group (of which I am Chair and therefore a competition panelist :)), the details of the H.E. Bates competition can be seen here (and rules / entry details here) but the following is a summary:

  • Write us a short story to a theme of ‘A walk at midnight’.
  • Entries must be no longer than 2,000 words in length.
  • Email / postal entries accepted.
  • The competition is open to all writers, from anywhere in the world.
  • 1st Prize £150; 2nd Prize £100; 3rd Prize £50
  • Special prize for the best story written by a Northamptonshire writer £50 (not awarded if the story has won 1st, 2nd or 3rd Prize).
  • In addition, a prize of £50 will be awarded for the best story by a writer who is under 18 years old on the closing date for entries.
  • The entry fee is £4 for each story submitted or 3 stories for £10 (£1 for each story submitted by an Under 18 writer). Entrants are invited to submit as many stories as they wish.
  • The initial judging panel will comprise members of the Northampton Writers’ Group
  • Head Judge is a well-known crime writer – name t.b.a.
  • Closing date for entries is midnight (UK time) on Wednesday 31st October 2012.
  • Prizes will be awarded at a prize-giving ceremony a few weeks later. Date and venue to be announced.

A former newspaper journalist, Stephen Booth is the creator of two young Derbyshire police detectives, DC Ben Cooper and DS Diane Fry, who have so far appeared in 11 crime novels, all set in England’s beautiful and atmospheric Peak District.

The Cooper & Fry series has won awards on both sides of the Atlantic, and Detective Constable Cooper has been a finalist for the Sherlock Award for the Best Detective created by a British author.

In 2003 the Crime Writers’ Association presented Stephen with the Dagger in the Library Award for “the author whose books have given readers most pleasure.”

The novels are sold all around the world, with translations in 15 languages, and are currently in development as a TV series. The most recent title is Dead and Buried. His other books include The Devil’s EdgeLost RiverThe Kill CallOne Last Breath, and Blind to the Bones.

You can also watch Stephen’s video about his novel ‘Kill Call’, the Peak District location and why he writes crime fiction… and read my review of his novella ‘Claws’ here. 🙂

* * *

I have to say (well, I don’t have to but I’m being kind) that one of the stories I read last year didn’t have a beginning or end (only a middle) so lost points for that (I start at 10 and work downwards). Nick, our competition organiser, let it go through to the panel which I wouldn’t have done as to me it wasn’t a short story so he’s clearly even kinder than me. 🙂

So there you have it. Nick (who gets your stories first, removes the names then distributes them), myself and the other group members look forward to reading your stories. I always say I’m firm but fair (you can hear how I critique in one of my red pen podcasts) and whilst I can’t be bribed (unless it’s with banoffee pie), if you have any questions feel free to email me.

The Northampton Writers’ Group (critique group) meets every other Thursday night in central Northampton, England – do email me if you’re local and are interested in joining.

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