And The Winners Are:
The Bucks County Short Fiction Contest for High School Students is pleased to announce the winners for Spring 2022. Maria Kesisoglou, a ninth-grader at New Hope-Solebury High School, and a resident of New Hope, won first place for her story, “Cat’s Cradle.” Bethany Conover, a sophomore at Council Rock South High School, and a resident of Holland, took second place for her story, “What could have happened.” Adam Dombrowski, a sophomore at Pennsbury High School, and a resident of Morrisville, was awarded third place for his story, “No Chances.” The winners’ stories were selected from a field of 67 entries this year.
The winners will receive certificates, as well as awards for $200, $100, and $50, respectively. The contest is funded by Bucks County Community College, and receives support from the Department of Language and Literature. The final judge was Joseph Shakely, a professor in the department.
From Suspense to Surrealism
Of Kesisoglou’s the first-place story, Shakely wrote, “With the first line—‘A phone rings in an empty house late at night’—a sense of foreboding draws the reader into this well-crafted tale of supernatural horror. The story unfolds almost entirely in the form of a message left on the answering machine in that empty house, a message that is both a warning and a plea for help from the self-described ‘shut-in next door.’ The author’s deft handling of characterization, even within the confines of the tight narrative setup, has us believing the caller and experiencing a growing sense of dread that peaks with an ending that in retrospect seems inevitable but that nevertheless lands with a punch. The meaning of the title, too, becomes clear with that ending and provides a chilling metaphor to make the story linger in the reader’s mind.”
Conover’s second-place story, Shakely said, is “a mix of fantasy and surrealism, told in the first person by a would-be novelist experiencing writer’s block. Her stop in an odd book shop with an equally odd proprietor launches her into something that seems halfway between dream and reality. The author of this story creates a narrator who remains believable and engaging whether musing on her fate, conversing awkwardly with an eccentric stranger, or struggling to get her bearings in an alternate reality. The genre-bending introduction of notes of mysticism and existentialism elevate this story well above the mere adventure tale.”
In regard to Dombrowski’s story, the judge noted, “‘No Chances’ is an ambitious story that manages within just a few pages to evoke the dystopian visions of Orwell, Burgess, and Serling. Its opening is calculatedly disorienting, reflecting the situation of the narrator. We don’t lose patience with this minimal exposition, though, because we are experiencing it just as the narrator/protagonist is and because the author has a good sense of what information to introduce, when to introduce it, and how to accomplish all this in a way that seems natural and organic to the story. The emphasis on setting—sterile, cold, and claustrophobic—provides an effective backdrop for the emergence of the ideas at the core of ‘No Chances.’”
The winners will read from their works at a celebration at the college on Wednesday, April 20.
For more information, please contact the contest director, Prof. Elizabeth Luciano, at [email protected].