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Derby Book Festival announces Flash Fiction competition winners

By - 20 April 2022 - 08:36am

Derby Book Festival, has announced the winners of its 2022 Flash Fiction Writing Competition, which this year was on the subject of ‘Space’. The challenge was to write a story of up to fifty words and just under 450 entries were submitted across four categories. The Festival, which is funded by the University of Derby and Arts Council England with sponsorship from local business, will be held from 20 – 28 May 2022.

The winners: Laura James (18 and over), Evie Alam (12 – 17 years) and Daisy Fulton (11s and under) each receive a £50 Waterstones token and a framed copy of their illustrated story. There was also a category for HMP Foston Hall for the third time which generated 13 entries. The judges also chose Highly Commended stories in each category (the full list of stories are attached).

The winning stories will be illustrated by Callum Cleary, who won a separate competition for University of Derby second year Illustration and Design students, and then printed onto a set of Festival bookmarks which will be available at this year’s Festival. These will be distributed across Derby and Derbyshire to promote the Festival.

The winning stories were chosen by a panel of three: the Festival Chair and Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire, Liz Fothergill CBE; author and Festival Trustee, Sarah Ward and Laura Stroud, Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Derby.

The competition, a key activity since the Festival’s inception in 2015, attracts hundreds of entries each year. In previous years, writers have been invited to tackle a variety of themes: ‘Love’, ‘Secrets’, ‘Journeys’, ‘If Only’, ‘Our World’ and ‘Home’. The theme can be interpreted as widely as the author wishes, so long as the story is no more than fifty words.

Festival Chair, Liz Fothergill CBE said: “We were delighted that we received so many entries again this year, and particularly that the largest number of entries were from under 11s, with teachers and parents encouraging children to be creative.”

“It was wonderful to receive entries from HMP Foston Hall despite the inmates being in lockdown again, offering them a creative opportunity.”

The full list of winning stories and the two runners-up stories in each category are available below.

The winners and runners-up stories:

18 and over
Winner: Laura James
No Space

Our life boat: tangerine orange and every bit as sweet. Behind us lay miles of despair; ahead of us, freedom. A quick headcount tallied 25. Capacity. As I chalked it up again, a passenger fixed her sorrowful gaze, firstly on me: “Sorry. No space,” Then on Hani… “I take baby?”

Highly Commended:
Lucy Prior


Now, I can breathe. There's space. My books on the shelves, mugs on the rack. Enough hangers. Room on the bench, in the bed, by the fire. The radio just plays my songs, now. What else? A small plaque, your dates. And a lifetime of space stretching, empty, ahead.

Bronwen Rees


The bottle is half hidden by seaweed, encrusted with tiny shelled creatures. She takes it home. Dad manages to get the old cork out. Inside, a tiny yellowed piece of paper with an address in childish writing. A friendship is formed, a thousand mile space between. It lasts a lifetime.

Mrs Erica McKinnon

No Way Out

I am hot, weary and scared. I sit alone on the damp, dirty, pewter coloured floor. The four walls are dark and bare, except for the buttons. Black buttons that I press to no avail. I'm stuck, closed in. I count the cobwebs then whisper, 'please help me.'

12-17 year olds
Evie Alam
Hospital Waiting Room

The span between me and the doctor was only a few sterilised, back-ache inducing chairs away, yet the agonising emptiness between us felt as though he was as distant as last night’s dream. He shook his head wanly, gaze lowered, and turned to the next waiting room victim.

Highly Commended:
Kiera Portman

My Space my Place

I like my own Space ,I do hate a crowd ,you see I have Autism and I will tell you proud . I get really Angry if your in my space I don't mean any harm its just the case.

Zainab Imran

I'm sorry

She looked at me, expecting recognition, but nothing comes. I can’t remember her, just like I can’t remember anything after the accident. My memories are simply blank spaces. A void of unfinished pictures and empty spaces. If I knew her name, I would apologise. Instead, I smile and walk away.

11 years and under
Daisy Fulton
The Wonders of Space

Did you know space is completely quiet, quiet as a mouse. Did you know space is cold, cold as an iceberg. Space can be vast, space can be cramped, space can be wide, space can be thin. If you think about it, space is nothing, it’s just space.

Highly Commended:
Poppy Ann Uff


I long for a friend to talk with, Someone to walk with, To never leave my side. Instead I am chased from towns, torches flooding streets as I hide, alone. I glance at my purple scales, And my slimy tail, Only to understand, I do not belong in this land...

Lilly -May Harrison


I need some space. I need to be alone! I can't be alone, my family is always around me. I need Mum's help. "Mum, where can I get some space?". She replied, "You don't need space, you need family." We all had a group hug. I love this space!

HMP Foston Hall

Winner: Leigh
The Space Within

I have a hollow space within me. Sometimes I find myself consumed in its darkness, retreating into its compacting familiarity. Somehow, I always manage to resurface and I have come to acknowledge and respect this dark space. For without it, I would not have learned to appreciate the light.

Highly Commended:


Crowds gather, Music plays, People dancing Back and forth. Crushing bodies. The Mosh pit fills. I try to find an empty gap. STOP! I FALL TO THE FLOOR. No space to crawl away. The masses jump and shout. Not for help, just about. A melody that makes you yelp.


Breathe the vacuum, so they say. Doesn't that make you go away? Void of life, Living things. Missing the bird that sings. Lost to me The life I had, Lost to me, makes me sad. No space for my thoughts, Cluttered mind. I feel like I am A little child.

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