The identities of the finalists for the Costa Short Story Award 2014 have been announced, with writers from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland making the shortlist.
The shortlist was chosen by a panel of judges including writers Patrick Gale and Victoria Hislop; Richard Beard, director of the National Academy of Writing; Fanny Blake, novelist, journalist and Books Editor of Woman & Home magazine; and Simon Trewin, agent at William Morris Endeavor.
It was then made available on the Costa Book Awards website for the public to download and read, and then vote for their favourite, although the names of the authors were only revealed today (19th January), after the vote for the winner had closed.
The six shortlisted authors are Paula Cunningham, Zoe Gilbert, Jane Healey, Joanne Meek, Mark Newman and Lucy Ribchester.
Cunningham, who lives in Belfast and is a part-time dentist, is shortlisted for "The Matchboy". Her chapbook, A Dog called Chance, was a winner in The Poetry Business Competition in 1999 and her first full-length poetry collection, Heimlich's Manoeuvre, was shortlisted for the Fenton-Aldeburgh, Seamus Heaney Centre, and Strong Shine First Collection Prizes.
Gilbert is shortlisted for "Fishskin, Hareskin". Her short stories have appeared in anthologies and journals in the UK and internationally and her work has won prizes from Cinnamon Press, Lightship and the British Fantasy Society amongst others, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is currently working on her first folklore-inspired collection of stories and she lives in London, where she runs a writers’ critique group and co-hosts the Word Factory short story club.
Healey, who was shortlisted for the 2013 Bristol Short Story Prize and who is currently working on her first novel, is shortlisted for "The Liontamer’s Husband". Her work has been published in magazines including Tin House, Paper Darts and The Normal School.
Meek, shortlisted for "Jellyfish", lives in South Glamorgan, and graduated from Cardiff University in 2014 with an MA in Creative Writing.
Newman, shortlisted for Rosa and Thirkel, works Leicestershire Libraries and has been writing short stories and flash fiction for two years. He has been highly commended in the New Writer Prose & Poetry Awards and was longlisted for the Bristol Prize.
Ribchester, whose debut novel The Hourglass Factory (Simon & Schuster) was published this month, is shortlisted for "The Glassblower’s Daughter". Ribchester lives in Edinburgh and in 2013 received a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award for fiction.
Established in 2012, the Costa Short Story Award is judged without the name of the author being known throughout the process. It is open to both published and unpublished writers, for a single, previously unpublished short story of up to 4,000 words by an author aged 18 years or over and written in English.
The winner, decided by public vote, will be announced at the Costa Book Awards ceremony on 27th January. The winning writer gets £3,500, with second place receiving £1,500 and third place £500.