Indie publisher Comma Press and the University of Central Lancashire have teamed up with the Northern Short Story Festival for the next Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction.
Submissions for the £500 prize, now in its third year, opened this week (15th July) with an artificial intelligence theme. Open to both published and unpublished writers, it aims to find the best voices in the format, in honour of Comma Press director Dinesh Allirajah who passed away suddenly in 2015.
Judges include short story writer including Martyn Bedford, Northern Soul literary editor Emma Yates-Badley, UCLan lecturer Dr Robert Duggan and Julie Fergusson from the North Literary Agency. UCLan students will also participate in the judging process by devising the 10-story shortlist.
The prize ceremony will be held at the Northern Short Story Festival, which runs from May to June at Leeds’ Carriageworks Theatre. The event will feature readings from the shortlisted writers before the announcement of the winner. The winning writer of an AI-themed story will receive £500 and will have their tale published online by Northern Soul. All 10 shortlisted authors will be featured in an e-book anthology which will be published by Comma Press and sold online.
Becca Parkinson, engagement manager at Comma Press, said: “We’re so pleased with the success of the first two years of the prize, and we’ve commissioned two of the previously shortlisted writers for future Comma anthologies, which is testament to the standard of writing talent we’ve seen unearthed so far. With us looking to the sci-fi genre this year I think we are going to get some amazing, imaginative stories, and I very much look forward to seeing the writers interpretations of AI.”
The prize is open to anyone based in the UK aged 18 or over, providing the story submitted has not been published anywhere else. Entry is free but limited to one per writer, and the closing date for applications is 25th October. For more information, visit the website.