Love story contest: the results

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and we can report that our Rainy City Love Stories contest was a roaring success. In a single month we received 56 stories, poems and bits of writing spanning every imaginable kind of love. We read romances involving snakes, bees, cats, superheroes, ghosts and the Man City squad.

This being Manchester, it might come as no surprise that stories in a minor key outnumbered sunshiny ones, but there were quite a few happy endings in there. We’re especially happy with the number of poems we received – it’s not every city which can boast so many people ready to sit down and write a love poem at the slightest provocation. Hard-bitten northern cynics? Nah, we’re just big softies, really.

Our winner was Craig Melville, whose story “The Shortest, The Coldest” caught our eye for its fine writing and compelling subject matter. It shows us a Manchester we recognise with some sadness, through the eyes of a lost soul wandering the city in search of his lover. We won’t spoil it for you by telling you who his beloved is… you’ll just have to read it.

Craig is 30 and is originally from Scotland but has been living in Bury for the last eight years, and works in telecommunications. This is the first story he’s submitted to anything, and we’re delighted to publish his first piece ever. “I did various articles for my university magazine and my job involves an element of report writing but I only began an interest in fiction about two years ago,” Craig says. He completed his first novel last year (any agents out there?).He says many of his favourite writers could be classed within the “beatnik/druggy/just plain weird bracket: John Kennedy O’Toole, Flann O’Brien, Alexander Trocchi”.

Craig says he got the idea for this story as he became more aware of homelessness in Manchester: “In some respects, the problem is far less visible than in other UK cities but all the less palatable because of the huge number of newbuild flats lying unoccupied and unused. I’ve happened to spot surprisingly large numbers of people congregating on Store Street, near Piccadilly Station, where soup kitchens are regularly held and occasionally had a few, fleeting exchanges with people about their stories. Also, I’ve had the good fortune to come across a couple who work for organisations like Lifeline and Barnabus, which seem to do really valuable work providing a voice for people that everyone else has given up on.”

Congratulations to Craig, and we hope to see more of his writing in the future. We’d also like to congratulate the four writers whose entries were finalists to win the big prize. Each one excellent in its own way:

The Last Bee Sings – Christina Stenhoff

A Superhero Love Story – Annabel Wigoder

Burnage Love Affair – Rachel Mann

Keith the Snake – Claire Massey

Thanks to everyone who contributed – you’ll be seeing some more of your love stories on the site over the next couple of months. And thanks again to the Manchester Literature Festival for donating the prize of £50 in Borders book tokens.




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