Fiction Issue - 2008 FICTION CONTEST: Made from scratch

More than 200 local authors itched to win this year's contest. Only three scraped by.

The word was too good to be true, not just for its versatility but also for its visceral appeal. "Scratch." How many ways could you use it? Let us count the ways ...

About 240. That's the (record) number of submissions we received for this, our seventh annual Fiction Contest, in which authors scratched an itch, baked from scratch, wrestled with Old Scratch, tried to come up with some needed scratch for rent and more – and seemed ready to draw blood. (Which was last year's theme, but we digress.)

First-place winner Laurah Norton Raines found her theme in "Old Scratch," about the bedevilment of a neighborhood. "What really blew me away," wrote judge Joshilyn Jackson, "was the story succeeds on two levels; it also works as a chilling genre tale, and Satan's cat is a total bad-ass. This is a seriously talented writer with a big voice, and in the humor and the clever angle, it reminded me of Joss Whedon."

Second-place winner Sam Miller tried as hard as he could not to scratch his itch in "Slow Burn," in which young teen Manny tries to fend off the ghosts of his past just long enough to fall in love. It's "an example of what I go after in my own work: realism that reveals a deeper truth without trying to be clever, quirky, or profound," wrote judge David Fulmer. "This story presents characters I believe, realistic dialogue, and a solid story line, and I was totally taken with it."

Third-place winner Brian Bannon found ways to suggest the word "scratch" around the fringes of "Awkward Racial Overtones," where prejudice in Atlanta still can be found in the most subtly ironic places. "This is an innovative, well-written, thought provoking and amusing story," wrote judge Fiona Zedde. "Bannon addresses race in Atlanta in an interesting way."

So get comfortable, set up some fried chicken and biscuits, put your money away, turn down the Ted Nugent, and enjoy some of the most promising fiction that Atlanta has to offer. Scratch that itch ...

The Judges 

David Fulmer

David Fulmer has been a writer and producer for more than 20 years. His first published novel, Chasing the Devil's Tail, won a Shamus Award in 2002, along with nominations for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Falcon Award and a Barry Award, and was selected for Borders' "Best of 2003 List" and other plaudits.

Jass, the second Storyville mystery, was published in January 2005. It was selected for the Best of 2005 lists by Library Journal and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and won the Georgia Author of the Year Award for Fiction. Rampart Street was published in January 2006. The Dying Crapshooter's Blues was published in January 2007. The Blue Door will be published in January, followed by Lost River in November.

Joshilyn Jackson

Joshilyn Jackson's short fiction has been published in literary magazines and anthologies including TriQuarterly and Calyx, and her plays have been produced in Atlanta and Chicago. Her best-selling debut novel, Gods in Alabama, won SIBA's 2005 Novel of the Year Award and was a No. 1 BookSense pick. Between, Georgia, was also a No. 1 BookSense pick, making Jackson the first author in BookSense history to receive No. 1 status in back-to-back years. Her third novel, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, will be published by GCP (formerly Warner Books) in March.

Fiona Zedde

Fiona Zedde moved to the United States from Jamaica as a sweet, yet misunderstood, preteen. After spending a few years in Tampa and getting her undergraduate degree in gender studies and British and American literature at New College of Florida, she moved to Atlanta, where she currently lives. At the moment, she is, to quote a pithy bumper sticker, "the artist currently known as starving," but she someday hopes to eat regular meals at the Ritz.

She is the author of four novels: Bliss, A Taste of Sin, Every Dark Desire and the upcoming Hungry for It. Her novellas "Pure Pleasure" and "Going Wild" are featured in the anthologies Satisfy Me (2006) and Satisfy Me Again (2007), respectively.


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