The winners of the 2016 Islands Short Fiction Contest were announced Thursday evening at a packed awards presentation in Nanaimo.
First-place winner in the Adult category was Tracy Balanik of Nanaimo for her story “A Clean Slate,” of which judge Robert J. Wiersema said, “This is the story I kept coming back to. The writer has created a harrowing, disturbing vision of a world, which gains force with each reading.”
Second place went to Janet Miller of Black Creek for “Belinda Polanski,” while third place was awarded to Amanda Hale of Hornby Island for “The Korean Tea Set.” Wiersema also gave honourable mentions to Judy Mayhew (Qualicum Beach) for “Arden and the Animals,” Harold Macy (Courtenay) for “Downhill,” Hilda Weissfloch (Nanaimo) for “Les Doigts du Diable,” Andrea Plain (Nanaimo) for “Ocean Spell,” and Taelon Pinto (Nanaimo) for “The Knife in the Closet.”
A Victoria-based, best-selling author and instructor in the Vancouver Island University Department of Creative Writing and Journalism, Wiersema remarked, “It’s always a pleasure to be invited to judge the Islands Short Fiction Contest. The entries are of such a high calibre, it usually amounts to a couple of weeks of genuinely pleasurable reading.”
In the Youth category for writers from ages 13 to 18, the first place winner was Ally Howard of Comox for “The Burning Oak.” Howard’s story will also be published in the anthology of youth writing In Our Own Voice 2016 from Rebel Mountain Press. Second prize went to Avery W. Creed of Duncan for “Master of Disguise,” while third prize was awarded to Stefan van Dusen of Nanaimo for “The Ramshackle Headsman.” Judge of the Youth category was Justin Unrau of the Vancouver Island Regional Library.
First-place winner in the Junior category (ages 12 and under) was Simone Urie of Nanaimo for “Through the Howl of the Wind.” Second prize went to Sara Lewis of Nanaimo for “Girl of Enlightenment,” third place to Ella Hannesson of Nanaimo for “Song of the People,” and an Honourable Mention to Perry Rockwell Sloane of Nanaimo for “Main Drain.” Jennifer Seper of the Vancouver Island Regional Library judged the Junior category.
Over $2000 in cash and prizes were awarded at the event. The Islands Short Fiction Contest is co-sponsored by the Nanaimo Arts Council, the Vancouver Island Regional Library, and the Vancouver Island University Department of Creative Writing and Journalism. It is made possible by financial support from the Government of British Columbia and The City of Nanaimo.
The winning entries will be posted shortly at isfc.ca.
Judge Robert J. Wiersema on the winning entries in the Adult Category of the Islands Short Fiction Contest:
First place: “A Clean Slate” by Tracy Balanik (Nanaimo)
“Having read many of the entries multiple times, this is the story I kept coming back to. Too often, in a story with a twist, the emphasis is on the twist. In ‘A Clean Slate,’ the twist is effective, but no effort has been spared in the set-up, and it rewards re-reading (so often, twist-based stories don’t). The writer has created a harrowing, disturbing vision of a world, which gains in force with each reading. Well done.”
Second place: “Belinda Polanski” by Janet Miller (Black Creek)
“This is a subtle, powerful piece of storytelling, using subtext to well explore the world of a young girl’s gradually growing awareness, of herself, her family, and of the world around her. It rings true, and hard, and sad, which leaves a mark on the reader.”
Third place: “The Korean Tea Set” by Amanda Hale (Hornby Island)
“I love the reach of this story, the scale it encompasses. It feels like a much larger story than its 1800 words, and packs in a lot of the wounded, painful stuff of life. I’m not a huge fan of the last line, but the story as a whole is powerful and fundamentally human.”