Tofino HarbourTwelve Vancouver Island writers have been awarded prizes in the 2018 Islands Short Fiction Contest, co-sponsored by the Nanaimo Arts Council, the Vancouver Island Regional Library, and the Vancouver Island University Department of Creative Writing and Journalism.

First place winner in the Adult category, judged by internationally-published author Marilyn Bowering, is Kara Lindstrom of Victoria for her story “Thursday.” Bowering notes that “’Thursday’ weaves an atmosphere of threat and possibility around its teenage protagonist, Maxine …. It was not possible to stop wondering and worrying about these characters.” (Read Marilyn Bowering’s complete remarks on the winners below.)

The second-place Adult winner is Janet Miller of Comox for “Dolls in the Desert,” while third place goes to Justin Fleming of Comox for “Skinned Tooth.” Receiving Honourable Mentions are Robert Bowerman (Nanaimo) for “Aileen,” Caileigh Broatch (Nanaimo) for “Shucked,” and Zachery Cooper (Nanaimo) for “Lost.”

In the Youth category (writers 13 to 18), first-place goes to Ivy-Lynne Walling of Ladysmith for “Survive.” Judge Ginger Warden of the Vancouver Island Regional Library remarks, “This is a vividly descriptive story. The author has imagined the experiences of three characters, whose shared experiences and desperation create a compelling depiction of war.” Second place goes to Caitlin Lowe (Victoria) for “Solemnly Accompanied,” with Erin Boese-Ezard (Ladysmith) taking third place with “La Lumiere.”

In the Junior category (writers 12 and under), the first-place winner is Janel Van Dongen of Nanoose for “Playful.” Says judge Julie Carter of the VIRL, “What I adored in this story were the lush descriptions of the setting …. I felt like I had jumped inside the story myself.” Paige-Marie Stewart (Sooke) is the second-place winner for “Titan Titanium Breads,” while Stella Stevens (Ladysmith) wins third-place with “Agent K.”

The authors received their awards, totalling over $2000 in cash and prizes, at an April 26th presentation in Nanaimo.

The Islands Short Fiction Contest is made possible by support from the Province of British Columbia and the City of Nanaimo. Past winners may be read on this website, where this year’s winners will also be posted shortly.

The audience awaits presentation of the 2018 Islands Short Fiction Contest awards

Judge Marilyn Bowering on the winners in the Adult category of the 2018 Islands Short Fiction Contest:

First Place Winner: “Thursday” by Kara Lindstrom
In this ambitious story for such a short space, “Thursday” weaves an atmosphere of threat and possibility around its teenage protagonist, Maxine. Slow to reveal its secrets, the story securely unfolds a world in the grip of climate change and personal suffering, to which its characters adapt with vividly different strategies. Maxine’s ability to read others’ strengths and weaknesses as well as her own, is conveyed by the author in writing that is realistic and poetic and plot advancing—all at the same time. It was not possible to stop wondering and worrying about these characters.

Second Place Winner: “Dolls in the Desert” by Janet Miller
I liked how this story deepens for me with each reading. Its details expand with significance around characters who have placed (not all, of their own volition) the craft of miniature-making at the centre of their lives. The subtlety of the dialogue, not a word out of place, with its undercurrents and suggestions, carries the protagonist towards realizations about the complexities of marriage, and the nature of art and artifice and loneliness. Real skill and talent is shown in the author’s twist of distancing assumptions with a “crochet hook” of language, to open a window on an abyss.

Third Place Winner: “Skinned Tooth” by Justin Fleming
The chill within this story of a man who is surviving on the (misplaced) trust of others, surprised me. The carefulness of observation in the writing, the protagonist’s ability to charm what he calls “character people” into supplying his needs, speaks not only of his desperation, but is accompanied by a whiff of evil. As always in a well-written story, the selection of detail directs the reader’s gaze, and mine fell on the innocence of those within the protagonist’s targeted range. Whether or not the story is part of a larger project, the story succeeds within the context it supplies. The story’s use of literary tropes is an asset.

Read the 2018 winners and finalists