Big names in the literary world as well as screenwriters, an actor and a comedian have entered their works in Edge Hill University’s Short Story Prize 2010.

The unique accolade, now in its third year, is the UK’s only literary award that recognises a published collection of short stories and has attracted entries from a number of distinguished writers and newcomers all competing for the winning title.

This year’s event, which also celebrates the University’s 125th anniversary celebrations, has seen submissions from high-profile names such as Robert Shearman, writer for the Doctor Who TV series and who has recently been nominated for this year’s Shirley Jackson award, Jeremy Dyson, co-creator of The League of Gentlemen, and famous novelist and comedian A.L Kennedy, pitted against newer talents such as Jane Feaver and Sian Hughes.

The long-list has on it an impressive wide range of writers – comedians and comic writers, scriptwriters, poets, science fiction writers and even includes work by actor Ben Moor.

Chris Beckett, the 2009 winner of the Edge Hill Short Story Prize and who is on the judging panel for this year’s awards, said: “The range of work that has been submitted this year is very impressive, and I am sure it is going to be very difficult to whittle it down to a shortlist, let alone to pick a winner and a runner up.  Having won the prize last year, I think I will find this particularly hard, because I know from first hand experience how much this prize can mean for a writer, and therefore how much may hang on our decision as judges.

“This is a unique prize in that it is the UK’s only literary award for single author short story collections. Winning it last year has made a huge difference for me in terms of my sense of myself as a writer, but also in very much more practical terms: I have a two-book contract as a direct result, and have been able to reduce my working hours in my ‘day job’ to spend more time on writing.  I hope the 2010 winner, whoever it may turn out to be, will find that the Edge Hill Prize opens similar doors for them into the competitive literary world.”

The entries are as follows:

  • Regi ClaireFighting It (Two Ravens Press). She has been twice shortlisted for a Saltire Book of the Year Award.
  • David Constantine – The Sheiling (Comma Press). The contemporary British award-winning poet and translator is co-editor of the literary journal Modern Poetry in Translation.
  • Jeremy Dyson – The Cranes that Build Cranes (Little Brown). The famous English screenwriter is the co-creator of ‘The League of Gentlemen’.
  • Michael J Farrell – Life in the Universe (The Stinging Fly). Michael was a priest for many years and this is his first published short story collection.
  • Jane Feaver – with Love Me Tender (Random House). The newcomer is a critically acclaimed novelist.
  • Patrick Gale – Gentleman’s Relish (Harper Collins). His father was a prison governor and Gale’s work reflects his life being brought up in and around prisons. His stories are frequently broadcast on Radio 4.
  • Sian Hughes – The Beach Hut (Biscuit Publishing).
  • Mark Illis – Tender (Salt Publishing). The author regularly writes for popular TV soap Emmerdale as well as radio plays and other TV dramas.
  • A.L. Kennedy – What Becomes (Jonathan Cape).In between being a comedian and a lecturer, Kennedy still finds the time to be a prolific writer of stories. She was also a judge for the Edge Hill Prize in 2007.
  • Tom Lee – Greenfly (Harvill Secker).His stories have appeared in the United States as well as being broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
  • Ben Moor – More Trees To Climb (Portobello). The actor and writer has starred in several films including Dead Man Running and his television credits include Time Gentlemen Please and Fist of Fun.
  • Nuala Ní Chonchúir – Nude (Salt Publishing). Last year she was selected to be writer in residence for the 2009 Cúirt International Festival of Literature.
  • Philip O Ceallaigh – The Pleasant Light of Day (Penguin). His first collection of stories won the Glen Dimplex New Writers Award. He also won the Rooney Prize 2006.
  • Robert Shearman – Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical(Big Finish).Heis best-known as a writer for Doctor Who, his short story writing and for his association with Jarvis & Ayres Productions which has resulted in six plays for BBC Radio 4.
  • Charles Stross – Wireless (Little Brown). The writer won the 2006 and 2007 Locus Award for best novella.
  • Craig Taylor – One Million Tiny Plays About Britain (Bloomsbury). Described as ‘Alan Bennett meets Ricky Gervais’ his work has gained a cult following.
  • Douglas Thompson – Ultrameta (Eibonvale Press). A biographer, broadcaster and international journalist he won second prize in the Neil Gunn Writing Competition in 2007.
  • Simon Van Booy – Love Begins in Winter (Beautiful Books). He has previously won the International Frank O’Connor Prize, the world’s richest and most prestigious prize for short stories.

The shortlist will be revealed on 8th May and the winners announced at an awards ceremony in July at Charring Cross Blackwell Store in London.

The judging panel this year includes: Professor Tanya Byron, Edge Hill University’s Chancellor, Katharine Fry, Trade Buying Manager at Blackwell and 2009 winner Chris Beckett.

Sponsored by Blackwell, the 2010 prize will have three categories:

  • The main literary award of £5,000, plus an original piece of artwork specially commissioned by Blackwell. Judges will choose the winner from a shortlist of five collections.
  • The £1,000 Readers’ Prize will be chosen by a group of A-level English students. They will announce their winner from the same shortlist as the main panel.
  • A new prize will also reward one of the stars of Edge Hill University’s MA Creative Writing course. Prize money of £500 will be awarded to the most outstanding short story submission by a current student – and they will also have the chance to see their story printed using Blackwell’s cutting-edge Espresso Book Machine publishing technology which has been heralded as the biggest change for the literary world since the invention of the printing press. The chance for one winner to see their work printed in this way is a major coup, particularly for an unpublished author.

Edge Hill Prize for the Short Story >>