Derby Book Festival has chosen the winners of its 2020 Flash Fiction Writing Competition, which this year was on the subject of ‘Home’.  The challenge was to write a story of up to fifty words and 539 entries were submitted across three age categories.

The winning stories were chosen this week by a panel of three:  the Festival Chair and next Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire, Liz Fothergill CBE, debut author Russ Thomas, whose crime novel, Firewatching, was published in February and Derby-based author, Jane Bettany whose first novel, In Cold Blood, will be published in November by HQ (Harper Collins).  Jane won a publishing contract as part of the HQ and Gransnet’s writing prize for unpublished women writers aged over 40 in 2019.

The winners: Fiona Ritchie Walker (18 and over), Megan Ferrier (12 – 17 years) and Daniel Langley (11s and under), each receive a £50 Waterstones token and their winning stories will be printed on a set of Festival bookmarks to be distributed across Derby and Derbyshire to promote the 2021 Derby Book Festival, which will be held from 28th May – 5th June.

The sixth Derby Book Festival was planned for 29th May – 6th June 2020 but, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, was forced to cancel and the organisers have been working hard to provide digital content including author interviews on their website.

In previous years, writers have been invited to tackle a variety of themes: ‘Love’, ‘Secrets’,  ‘Journeys’, ‘If Only’ and ‘Our World’, attracting hundreds of entries each year.  The theme can be interpreted as widely as the author wishes, so long as the story is no more than fifty words.

Festival Chair, Liz Fothergill CBE said:

“This year’s competition was launched during the early days of lockdown and we are delighted with the response we received.  In particular, parents and teachers seized the opportunity to encourage children to enter and we had a record number of entries in the 11 and under category.  This year’s theme, ‘Home’ was chosen many months ago, but little did we know that home would have such a significance for us all this year and this is reflected in the stories.”

“Sadly we were unable to receive entries from HMP Foston Hall and Sudbury because of lockdown but we plan to involve them in our 2021 competition.”

The full list of winning stories and the two runners-up stories in each category are available on the Festival website.