Just because our Major Comp Long List kicked off this week doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about or fallen heroes.
The Waiting For Starman Award asked authors to write about a celebrity who receives a strange visitor near the end of their life.
It was a chance to portray recent passing in a hopeful light, to delve into the past as well as challenge a few of our presumptions about what it means to be celebrity, and what it means to die. The stories for this award were excellent, displaying wit, charisma and talent. Let’s recap:
Alicia Bruzzone kicked things off with Stuck At Six the tragic tale of a childhood star:
Thomas grabbed his gun and called out to the lingering hopefuls on the lawn. This time when he did something decent for humanity, he wanted witnesses.
Recent newcomer Heather Mercer brought us Darling Of The Age, an intriguing story about a celebrity from a much earlier time:
Ganfrey cleared his throat. ‘You are the Admiration of Every Eye. The celebrated Kitty Fischer, are you not?’ He glanced up to the Reynolds’ portrait of her over the mantelpiece. His blue eyes looked grey now, as though dimming with the fading afternoon light.
While recent rising star Jeanette Stampone reimagined the story of Australia’s famous fallen son, Michael Hutchence, in The Devil Inside:
He froze as this creature circled him. It seemed to sense his vulnerability, drawing strength and power from his fear. He looked it in the eyes and it stared right back; its growl deepening as it closed in on him.
Barry Quinn took us down a postmodern path, remixing the lyrics of David Bowie’s catalog into a high energy, surreal short story, A Lad Insane:
“They’ve put me on these… Ramona put me on these interest drugs,” Ziggy Stardust said. “So I’m thinking very too bit too fast like a brain hatch.”
“Strung out in heaven’s high,” said the Starman.
“I’m so high it makes my brain whirl,” agreed Ziggy.
While Lydia Trethewey showed us that she takes the death of the author very seriously indeed, with Ouroboros:
It’s fading now, you can feel it, so I’ve come to remove it before it turns to ash.’
I don’t understand.
The stranger smiles.
‘But you do…’
Finally, newcomer Amy Short rounded out the Waiting For Starman Award with her touching début story at NiTH, Lilium:
“My name’s Michael, Michael Worthing. I’ve seen you on the telly.’ Despite his obvious lack of strength and disintegrating voice, the boy still sounded cheerful, his cheeky grin peeking out from the confines of his hollowing cheeks and pale features. “I was always rooting for you and Lily.”
We might be waiting for the Starman to blow our mind, but there’s no such dawdling with this week’s winner, who has shown us time and again that they can make a good story out of just about anything.
Please congratulate the wonderful Lydia Trethewey for her win this week. Ouroboros demonstrated all the qualities of a great story. An interesting premise, a relatable protagonist, a dramatic turning point and the sense of a world that was bigger that a few hundred words allowed. The bittersweet ending didn’t hurt either.
Lydia is fast becoming NiTH’s perennial champ, but that shouldn’t dissuade other authors from stepping up to the challenge. If scores are any indication, the three way tie for second this week showed that there are many stories (and authors) just on the cusp of breaking through.
Thanks to everyone who participated, and to our judges for their tireless efforts. For the next few weeks we’ll be dropping more stories for our Major Comp Long List, however there will be more story comps coming up to get those creative juices flowing.
For now, enjoy the long list!