The RTÉ Short Story Competition 2021 in honour of Francis MacManus is now open for entries.
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Writers have until Friday 7th May to submit their short story to the competition, which will be judged by writers Lisa McInerney, Declan Hughes and Lucy Caldwell.
Since its inception 35 years ago, the RTÉ Short Story Competition has been a critically important launch pad for new and emerging writers in Ireland. Set up in 1986 to honour writer and broadcaster Francis MacManus, the competition recognises and rewards the best new Irish fiction writing for radio. The top prize is €3000. Ten stories will be shortlisted and broadcast.
Free to enter, last year’s competition, which coincided with Ireland’s first lockdown, attracted record numbers of entries – over 4,000.
Judge for 2021, Lisa McInerney, says: “I’m delighted to join the judging panel for this competition, not least because it acknowledges the short story as oral as well as written tradition. One of the reasons Irish people have such an affinity for the short story, I think, is our lively, playful vernacular, our love of timing and tall tales, and commanding the attention of an audience. What I love to find in a short story is a fresh twist in the telling, whether through a clever turn of phrase, or special clarity of character. And all the better if we can hear the heart beating in every sentence.”
Fellow judge, Lucy Caldwell says: “When you’re writing your story for the RTÉ Short Story Competition, you are writing for the listener, even more than for the reader. I still think it’s a kind of magic, that a stranger’s voice can travel over that mysterious thing called airwaves, and reach us, enter us, disarm or distract or maybe even change us. These are your super powers. Use them wisely – use them well. I can’t wait to hear your stories.”
And Declan Hughes says: “The Irish short story is in rude health, with a vigorous infrastructure of literary journals and magazines, awards and independent publishers providing opportunities for writers at every level to place new work, produce collections and win prizes. I read a lot of work in progress and can testify to the seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy and talent out there. I’m very much looking forward to reading the submissions for RTÉ’s Francis MacManus Short Story award, which has played an important role in the development of Irish short fiction for over 30 years.”
Series producer Sarah Binchy says: “At 35, the competition now happily inhabits both the digital and the analogue world – you can enter online or by post, and we podcast and publish all the shortlisted stories online, as well as broadcasting them on RTÉ Radio 1. But it continues to do what our colleagues who set it up in 1986 in honour of Francis MacManus intended: to discover some of the best new Irish fiction writing for radio each year. I’d encourage anyone who’s serious about their writing to enter, and I’m looking forward to what this year’s writers have in store for us.”
A shortlist of ten stories will be announced in September, and the top prizewinners will be announced on an Arena special programme some weeks later.
The overall winner will receive €3,000, while €2,000 and €1,000 will be awarded to the second and third place prize winners respectively. A further seven runners-up will receive €250 each, and all 10 shortlisted stories will be published on rte.ie/culture and broadcast in a season of new writing on RTÉ Radio 1 in the autumn.
The RTÉ Short Story Competition has been championing new talent for decades; past winners and shortlisted writers include Claire Keegan, Danielle McLaughlin, Anthony Glavin, Chris Binchy, Nuala O’Connor, Liz Nugent, Colin Walsh and Sarah Gilmartin.
All shortlisted stories are produced for radio, voiced by some of Ireland’s most talented actors. In recent years these have included Cathy Belton, Eamon Morrissey, Ali White, Ingrid Craigie, Janet Moran, Kathy Rose O’Brien, Emmet Kirwan and Andrew Bennett.
For competition rules, information on how to enter, and to read and listen to past winning stories, see www.rte.ie/writing.
Lisa McInerney’s work has featured in Winter Papers, The Stinging Fly, Granta, The Guardian, Le Monde, The Irish Times, BBC Radio 4 and various anthologies. Her debut novel The Glorious Heresies won the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the 2016 Desmond Elliott Prize. Her second novel, The Blood Miracles, won the 2018 RSL Encore Award. Her third, The Rules of Revelation, will be published in May 2021.
Declan Hughes is a novelist and playwright. His first novel in the acclaimed Ed Loy series, The Wrong Kind of Blood, won the Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel and the Le Point magazine prize for best European crime novel; his most recent novel is All The Things You Are. Co-founder and former artistic director of Rough Magic theatre company, his plays include I Can’t Get Started, Digging For Fire and Shiver. He teaches creative writing at UCD and is Literature Adviser to the Arts Council.
Lucy Caldwell is the author of two collections of short stories, three novels, several stage plays and radio dramas, and is the editor of Being Various: New Irish Short Stories (Faber, 2019). Her short stories have been widely broadcast and anthologised and her work has won many awards, including the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Dylan Thomas Prize and a Major Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Her latest collection, Intimacies, will be published by Faber in May 2021.