Okanagan Short Story finalists announced

The field of entries has been narrowed to six finalists, selected among 121 submissions from the Okanagan and Southern Interior.

After months of anticipation, the short-listed authors for the Okanagan Short Story contest have been announced.

The field of entries for the contest has been narrowed to six finalists, selected among 121 submissions from across the Okanagan and Southern Interior.

They include Julie Cosgrave, for One Thousand Cups of Coffee, Ashley Little for Niagara Motel, Brittni Mackenzie-Dale for Dead Man’s Bluff, Connal McNamara for Mad Dog, Glenna Turnbull for things you find on the side of the road, and Shelley Wood for Leave-taking.

The winner, along with second and third-place runners up, will be chosen by UBC Okanagan writer-in-residence Gerry Shikatani.

As an out-of-province judge, Shikatani says he and UBC’s creative writing team found the Okanagan Short Story Contest a pleasurable but serious evaluation of fiction.

“The short-listed stories were all very competently written, but through re-readings, the best clearly emerged,” said Shikatani. “These went beyond the perspective of the single character/narrator to fully integrate other characters and narratives.”

Literary plots seem often influenced by popular movies and television these days, he added. That trend is evident in the short-story submissions and even among those in the Governor General awards, which Shikatani judged in 2010.

“It is to the loss, perhaps, of the quirky and formally daring that makes fiction truly original,” said Shikatani.

The winner of the contest will be announced at a gala event April 22 at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art, 421 Cawston Ave., Kelowna. The event starts at 5:30 p.m. and will include readings by Kelowna author/creative writing teacher Alix Hawley, a finalist for the English 2014 CBC Short Story Prize and winner of the 2014 Canada Writes Bloodlines competition, and second-year UBCO creative writing students from their collaborative digital writing site, Vherbage!, which explores the psychosocial and animate lives of plants.

The Okanagan Short Story Contest, sponsored by UBC’s faculty of creative and critical studies, The Kelowna Capital News and the Central Okanagan Foundation, offers cash prizes: $500 for the winning entry, $200 for second prize, and $100 for third prize.

The top prize includes a one-week residency at the Woodhaven Eco Culture Centre in Kelowna.