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The Top Twenty

haunting words

First: thanks to everyone who entered the competition. We were delighted at the enthusiastic response to our call for modern, scary stories.

Due to the large number of entries for the Campaign for Real Fear, and the high calibre of the final group of submissions, Chris and I have decided to select twenty winning stories.

You will be able to read the first batch of ten stories in the June issue (#17) of Black Static followed by the second batch of ten stories in the August issue (#18), and they will be podcast by Action Audio.

Top Twenty

  • ‘Copy Degradation’ by Gemma Files; Canada
  • ‘In The Night Supermarket’ by James Burt; UK
  • ‘Nice One, Truly’ by Alan Morgan; UK
  • ‘On The Beaten Path’ by Janos Honkonen; Finland
  • ‘Sanctuary’ by Katherine Hughes; UK
  • ‘The Price’ by Jennifer Williams; UK
  • ‘The Rude Little Girl’ by Kaaron Warren; Australia
  • ‘This Is Mung’ by Christine Emmett; South Africa
  • ‘The Flinchfield Dance’ by Mary Elizabeth Burroughs; Australia
  • ‘Shades of Blue’ by Catherine MacLeod; Canada
  • ‘Infected With Death’ by John Fagan; UK
  • ‘The Exchange’ by Eileen Chao; USA
  • ‘Under The Microscope’ by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt; USA
  • ‘See You Later’ by M. M. De Voe; USA
  • ‘Showtime’ by James Carroll; Australia
  • ‘Hounded’ by Christina Koh; UK
  • ‘Big Brother, Little Sister’ by Sam Fleming; UK
  • ‘Cuckoo’ by Lorraine Slater; UK
  • ‘Dreadless’ by Anna Rogala; UK
  • ‘Give Me More Eyes for Nakedness’ by Paul Synnott; UK

Honourable Mentions

Congratulations to all our winners for writing such memorable stories!

We’re saddened we couldn’t take more, which is why we listed seven honourable mentions. There were several other strong contenders we had to put aside with a great deal of regret.

We received a range of work from first-time writers through to seasoned professionals. Our final group represents a spectrum of experience as well as showcasing the variety of talent writing modern horror fiction.

Our feedback and analysis of the competition will appear in the June issue of Black Static, and afterwards we will publish it here.

This is the end

This is the end, my only friend, the endThe Campaign for Real Fear is closed to submissions.

Christopher Fowler and I would like to thank all the writers who sent us stories. In the past two days we’ve been inundated with entries.

We face a very difficult task, and we hope you will appreciate that we will need some time to read through all the submissions and give them our considered attention.

We will announce our short-list of ten stories as soon as possible, and at that point we will also offer statistics and feedback about the work we received.

The Campaign in The Guardian

Today David Barnett wrote about The Campaign for Real Fear in The Guardian. Here’s a small chunk:

On her blog Splinister, McHugh has twice blown the whistle on instances of perceived bias: in September, she pointed out that a British Fantasy Society  book of interviews with horror writers contained no women. Last month, she highlighted the same issue with SFX magazine’s horror special. Both of those rows are well-documented and led to widespread internet debate (and, to be fair, apologies and explanations from the targets of her ire). Now, with Fowler’s support, McHugh seems to be focusing her energies on doing something positive about the situation. Setting out the Campaign for Real Fear’s manifesto on his blog, Fowler writes: “Our nascent horror movement is beginning to grow… We’re hoping to change the outmoded habits of the past, aiming for some positive discrimination leading to fresh new strands of writing that will benefit readers and publishers alike. The Campaign for Real Fear starts here.” Both Fowler and McHugh were at the World Horror Convention in Brighton at the weekend, spreading the word.

Despite the talk of positive discrimination, the Campaign does not aim to address the imbalance in the genre by putting together an all-female anthology; rather, the idea is about celebrating diversity. “What are the horror myths for the 21st century?” asks their mission statement. “Sure, we all love our werewolves and vampires, but where are the new monsters for our age? Where are the characters that reflect the diversity in our streets and neighbourhoods? What are the stories that tap into the terrors of modern life? We want to read them, in 500-word bites.”

Fowler has always been fascinated with “real fear” and his stories are littered with desolate tower-blocks, haunted council estates and nasty surprises in the fried chicken. On one of his early blog ruminations, which led to the launch of the Campaign for Real Fear, he recalled a truly terrifying anecdote that had not a supernatural entity in sight: “On the subject of diversity – and its lack – I was talking to a film director mate of mine who is making a film with a largely black cast, who was told ‘Well, you’ve just lost a third of the world’s sales.’ Now you start to see what we’re up against.”

Thanks to David for the terrific plug for the campaign.

We had a fantastic time at World Horror Convention in Brighton. The panel I moderated about Women in Horror was well attended despite being up against one of the Guest of Honour interviews, and we had an excellent discussion about the issues of diversity in horror.

We’ve also had a burst of submissions since the convention ended, which is brilliant. Keep the work coming in – what scares you about the world today?

Next up is Eastercon, the biggest SF convention in the UK, where I’ll be spreading word about the campaign.

On Friday at 4pm I’ll be in the Tetworth room moderating a panel on “SF – Taking Shows From TV to Audio”

The following day at 2pm I’ll be moderating a panel about “Writers and the Web – Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, etc.” in the Connaught room.

Much later that day at 9pm in the Connaught room I’ll be moderating a panel on “Small Press Comics and Webcomics”.

If you have any questions about the Campaign you should be able to catch me after one of these panels, or have a look for me during the convention. I’ll be happy to answer any queries.

Give us your fear

Chris and I are already receiving submissions for the Campaign for Real Fear, so keep them coming!

We say:

“Give us your terror, your fear,
Your horrid tales yearning to alarm,
The wretched stories of your teeming brain.
Send these, the disturbed, nightmare-tossed to us,
We lift our laptops to behold their forms!”

With homage to Emma Lazarus and The New Colossus.

Also, it’s especially pleasing to note that the Australian Horror Writers Association has announced its finalists for the 2009 Shadows Awards and three out of the five entries in the Long Fiction Award are women. There are also three women out of five in the short fiction category, and two women co-editors among the three anthologies up for awards.

No one should ever ask “Where are the women in horror?” again. No excuses. They’re everywhere!

And of course, congratulations to all the finalists, irrespective of gender!