“It was my love letter to the city,” said Stephens, who will receive the 6,000kc first prize.
“Stolen Moments with Kings”, written by Adam Sweet, was selected as the runner up and he gets 3,000kc. Sweet won the 2017 BSSWC with “New Year’s Evey”.
Two stories shared third-place honors: “Just Google It” by Hana Pačesová, a Brno-native who is currently on maternity leave, and “Heartbeat” by Simon Botten, who also finished third in the 2018 BSSWC. Both receive 1,000kc.
Anonymous donations funded the initial 10,000kc prize pool. Another anonymous donation allowed for both third-place authors to receive 1,000kc. Brno Daily (brnodaily.cz) and the Brno Expat Centre (brnoexpatcentre.eu) were both media sponsors.
Stephens, who hails from London, earned Honorable Mention with “The Last Time” in 2018. “Brno is for Lovers” moved him to the top of the list.
“I wanted to capture all of the different kinds of strong emotions that people feel in the city and capture the experience of being here from many different perspectives,” said Stephens, who works as a teacher and journalist. “I wanted to create an overview of how love functions in the city. I wanted it to be something that as many people could relate to as possible.”
Four additional stories were awarded Honorable Mention:
• “Where The Heart Is” by Jennifer Stahl
• “Bleeding Heart” by Veronika Opatřilová
• “Stalker of my Brother’s Dentist” by Jan Váňa
• “Love in the Time of Dystopia” by Jan Cymba
The Third Annual Brno Short Story Writing Contest asked writers to address the theme, “The Heart of Europe”, in some significant way. It was a free contest, with only one entry per person. The short stories had to be in English and 2,500 words or less. The deadline for entries was May 26 Forty-five entries were submitted.
The jury included a cross-section of local cultural icons and writing enthusiasts: Don Sparling, a co-founder of the Brno Expat Centre and a longtime leader in the local expat and Masaryk University communities; Tomáš Kačer, a teacher in the Department of English and American Studies at MU, and a translator; Anna Formánková, a translator and a book editor at MOBA Publishing House; and contest co-founder and Brno Writers Group co-founder Lee Adams, the At the Movies blogger for the Brno Expat Centre.
The jury was instructed that the contest was focused on creating a story that included the theme “The Heart of Europe” in some significant way. The story was the most important aspect, including writing, originality, character development, and plot development. It was understood that most of the entrants would not be native English speakers and that, in fact, this may be their first attempt to write creatively in English. All entrants were to endeavor to adhere to the rules of English; however, spelling and grammar was not be critical for success.