This year’s short story contest saw a lot of first-time writers. Several stopped by the Hook office to submit their entries and then stayed to talk about the thrill and agony of trying to tell a good story in a way that would catch the eye of this year’s judge, celebrated writer John Grisham.
Over all, 127 stories — from seasoned veterans as well as the neophytes — arrived for the master to consider. As might be expected, topics ranged from sad love stories to exciting adventures to science fiction and fantasy.
In the end, though, it was gritty realism that prevailed. Of the three winning stories, two explore ambiguous relationships among complicated people, while the third is a look at hilarious backwoods shenanigans as some young boys exact revenge with an improvised explosive device of the spud variety.
Here’s what John Grisham had to say about the winning stories:
First place, Charles McRaven’s “First Stones”
Judge Grisham is nothing if not prescient. “The plot alone could carry a short novel,” he wrote about McRaven’s story. “The characters are rich enough for a long series of strange adventures.” Grisham had no way of knowing that his assessment is correct: “First Stones” is a condensed version of two chapters of a novel.
Second place, John Ruemmler’s “20 Minutes’ Clarity”
Grisham’s comment, “I laughed with the first sentence and almost cried with the last.” Grisham, whose novels, mostly legal thillers, have an uncanny way of eventually becoming Hollywood hits, also called the setting “so visual I can see it on the screen.”
Third place, Robert Walters’ “The Potato Cannon War”
“I must confess,” Grisham wrote of his third-place choice, “I have actually fired a potato cannon. So I was naturally drawn to this hilarious story.”
Source: The HooK