I won the Almasi League Flash Fiction Award this year with my short story Beneath the Skin.
I wrote the flash fiction piece as a writing exercise during the Curtis Brown Write to the End of your Novel course. It is an online course which I took after completing the Start Writing Fiction course run by the Open University. Both courses are excellent – very helpful if you need more structure when you are writing and enjoy receiving feedback. The Open University one is also free.
The Almasi League run workshops and events for writers and after signing up for one of them I heard of their Flash Fiction competition and entered my flash piece. Courttia Newland, their judge said it was ‘full of emotion’ and ‘skilfully written’.
I went to meet Courttia and some of his writing students at the University of East London, Stratford. I had some great conversations with the group, who had clearly found their classes immensely helpful, and Courttia himself, who had some great advice for me about my next steps.
It was a hugely life-affirming event for me to win this award, as I had some serious health issues to contend with this year. Winning writing competitions is a real boost to writers who are mostly working alone – it helps us gain some recognition and feedback – and I am very grateful to the Almasi League for the opportunity to enter.