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AHWA Flash & Short Story Competition

AHWA Competition

Currently CLOSED. 


Short Story Winner 2016:

Brother by Rue Karney

Highly commended:

Angel Hair by Deborah Sheldon

North Country by Josh Kemp


Flash Winner 2016:

Tomorrow by Glenn H. Mitchell

Highly commended:

Old Man Red Gum by Matthew J. Morrison

The Man by Christine Ferdinands


Comments from the judges:

Overall, judges Lee Murray, Joseph Ashley Smith, and Zoe Downing were impressed with both the quality and quantity of the entries, with 30 flash stories submitted and a further 62 in the short story division. In both cases, selecting a winner proved difficult.

In the flash category, we chose Tomorrow as the winning story. Joseph described it as, “surreal and sinister, with bursts of beautifully horrific imagery that reminded me of Burroughs, or Bosch.” From the outset, the shifting POV was unsettling, Zoe stating that the voice’s manipulation of the character was particularly disturbing, and how by accepting responsibility for the character’s actions, it freed the character to act in horrific ways. In fact, the actions occurring off-stage were perhaps the most frightening aspect of Tomorrow, a world of horror beyond what was written on the page. While the full intent of the story wasn’t readily absorbed in a single reading, the judges agreed that a second reading only enhanced their enjoyment of this weird tale.Old Man Red Gum was highly commended. Vivid and tangible with some gorgeous turns of phrase and a wonderful sense of place, we all enjoyed this uniquely Australian tale of a family haunted by a red gum tree. The Man was also highly commended. Simplistic, tidy and fun, this little pact-with-the-devil tale with its unexpected final punchline was an easy choice for an entertaining afternoon read.

In the short story category, we selected Brother as the winning story. Joseph’s initial reaction to the story summed it up for all of us: “Well… wow! Fucking trippy. Love the idea. Love the imagery. Really, really great.” Exploring the connection formed between the viewer of an art exhibition and the semi-live dolls being exhibited, Brother is a poignant and fresh take on a well-loved horror trope. Of all the stories, we felt Brother was the most consistent in its central idea, the notion of the perversity of art and the complicity of the viewer, its overriding theme.

Angel Hair was highly commended. A classically structured tale in which spider numbers suddenly blossom in the aftermath of a flood, its potential to be real meant the story stayed with each of us long after we’d finished reading it. Visually beautiful, the story’s key strength lay in its portrayal of the quiet and inescapable horror of being smothered. Also highly commended was North Country, another devastatingly dark story, its sparse prose in keeping with the desolation of the subject matter: the imagery, the mis-en-scene, and the dialogue, all serving to evoke a bleak and nihilistic post-apocalyptic. 


The AHWA Flash Fiction & Short Story Competition is open to submissions from January 1 until May 31, 2017. 

Image: J. Ashley Smith, AHWA Short Fiction Winner for 2015

We want your best horror story, your very best. This is Australia's leading unpublished horror fiction competition and our winning entries are always imaginative, engaging, well-written, and bloody scary. We need tales that frighten, yarns that unsettle us in our comfortable homes. All themes in horror will be accepted, from the supernatural classics (zombies, vampires, ghosts), to psychological roller-coaster rides, to the highly original. No previously published entries will be accepted – all tales must be an original work by the author.

- Cameron Trost, AHWA Competitions Coordinator

There are two categories for submission:

Flash Fiction
Stories up to 1000 words in length. The winning author will receive paid publication in Midnight Echo, the magazine of the AHWA, and an engraved plaque.

Short Story
Stories with 1001 to 8000 words. The winning author will receive paid publication in Midnight Echo, the magazine of the AHWA, and an engraved plaque.

AHWA members have free entry.
General public: $5 for flash fiction, $10 for short story entries.
Secure payments can be made via Paypal using our Paypal ID: ahwa (at)

Writers may submit to one or both categories, but entry is limited to one story per author per category. No simultaneous submissions. Any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Electronic submissions (attached in WORD or RTF format) should be emailed to: ctrost (at)

The email subject should follow the format:
"AHWA Flash Fiction: Story Title by Author" or "AHWA Short Story: Story Title by Author"

Include author name, membership number (for members entries), contact details, and story word length in the body of the email. DO NOT include your name or any identifying details in the story file. The competition uses blind judging.

Please edit your manuscripts thoroughly before sending them through to us. Spelling errors and poor grammar isn't the kind of horror we're after!

We are pleased to announce our panel of judges for 2016.

1. Joseph Ashley Smith (2015 short story winner)
2. Zoe Downing (2015 flash fiction winner)
3. Lee Murray (award-winning speculative fiction writer, editor, judge)

Competition closes 31st May 2016.
Winners will be announced on this page in late June or early July.

Contact ctrost (at) if you have any further questions.