Our bet paid off, and Richmond writers answered the call for the first of what would become our annual Style Weekly Fiction Contest. This summer we published our fifth annual issue, publishing the three best entries and honoring the winners with a cash prize and a live reading of their stories.
In the past five years we've seen an orgy of creativity -- upwards of a thousand stories in nearly every genre imaginable: action/adventure, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, drama, epic, murder/mystery, look-what-the-cat-dragged-in, it-was-all-a-dream, and some stories that defied categorization.
In all, six men and nine women emerged from the pool of Richmond's burgeoning talent. Here they are; the 15 alums of the Style Weekly Fiction Contest.
The first-place winner in 2003, Jeff Landon, has been published in many literary journals, including Crazyhorse, Mississippi Review and New Virginia Review, and he teaches at John Tyler Community College. The year's second-place winner, Katharine Herndon, has been active on the James River Writers' conference planning committee. And we ended up hiring the year's third-place winner, Brandon Reynolds. This year he was tapped as Style's full-time arts and culture editor.
Deirdra McAfee, 2004's first-place winner, teaches fiction writing at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond; second-place winner Mary Mullins is in her second year of the creative writing M.F.A. program at Virginia Commonwealth University. Third place winner Stephen Moegling has just completed his first book of literary fiction, entitled "Selah," and is in the process of securing an agent.
2005's first place winner, Lenore Gay, has been at work on two novels, "The Timecatcher" and "The Hobo," and will soon be shopping for agents. Darren Morris, who placed second that year, was named one of the Best New Poets of 2006 by Meridian Press. He's slated to read at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in February and has had his short fiction solicited by a small press. 2005's third-place winner, Eva Langston, attended an intensive fiction study in Madrid this past July.
"Miss Morris," the first-place story by Janet Moss in 2006, was read onstage at the Empire Theatre as part of Virginia Arts and Letters Live in March. Second-place winner Catherine Baab has started a monthly local lit column highlighting Virginia authors for Richmond.com while pursuing her master's from the University of Auckland in New Zealand and finishing her first novel, "I Love You I Get Good Grades."
This year's first-place author, Michelle Dove, moved to Washington, D.C., in August to pursue her master's degree in creative writing at American University. Second-place winner Meriah Crawford maintains her private investigator practice and teaches writing in the workplace at VCU. And our third-place winner, Christopher Moore, serves on the board of the James River Writers.
We've been unsuccessful at tracking down 2006's third-place winner, Kevin Hyde. But we trust he is still out there, somewhere, writing away.