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Living under Fire

September 1, 2010

By Holland Park Press

To celebrate the release of Arnold Jansen op de Haar’s King of Tuzla, Holland Park Press is holding a short story writing competition, because often fiction describes reality more truthfully than an item on the evening news.

This competition is now closed. Check our magazine for news about other competitions.

The task

You are asked to write a short story set in a conflict zone. The story should not contain more than one thousand words.

The story can take place anywhere in the world and be set in the past or present but not in the future.

Your tale could unfold, for example, during the troubles in Northern Ireland. It could just as well describe life in a refugee camp during the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, or take place in the present time inside a remote village in Afghanistan. Yet, a story about a terrorist, a Somali pirate or a victim of the bombing of the London Underground will provide equally valid settings.

The key requirement is that the story is told from the perspective of one main character.

You can find examples of life in the war zone in King of Tuzla, a novel recently published by Holland Park Press.

King of Tuzla tells the story of a young army captain, Tijmen, who all of a sudden finds himself in a real war. He is part of the UN troops based in Bosnia in the former Yugoslavia, the scene of the most recent war in Europe.

King of Tuzla is not so much about military battles or strategies; rather it focuses on how war affects ordinary people, both soldiers and civilians.

Interspersed with Tijmen’s story about finding his own identity within a strict military environment, we are shown vivid snippets of life in the war zone.

Take your inspiration from:

Civil servant Galib Prolaz, a self proclaimed Yugoslavian citizen who, after the Muslims were driven away, had no alternative but to become a farmer.

The beautiful Lucia Mezga, who behind the bar of ‘Holland House’, dreams that officers are queuing up to marry her.

The Old Jewish baker, Pista Rácz, who stays put, following the rabbi who refuses to flee and who by serving everyone, including his enemies, pays with his life.

Little Jasmina, who lost her father and roams the streets with her dog Boris. When he has to be put down her world is shattered, because Boris talks, he is a wise dog.

Lazar Zekić who didn’t have much of a future, but who, after betraying his oldest friend, the gifted Mehmed Osmanagić and his family, has been promoted.

These passages are written from the perspective of the local population in the conflict area. Likewise, the aim of this competition is to tell a story through the eyes of one person, male or female, adult or child, living in the midst of an ongoing conflict.

What is the prize?

The author of the winning short story will receive £100 plus this short story will be published in our online magazine.

Who can take part?

Anyone who submits an entry that complies with these guidelines:

  • The short story has to be written in English

  • Translations are not accepted

  • The short story should be 1000 words or less

  • The short story must be the original work of the entrant and must not have been previously awarded or published

  • You can only send in one short story per entrant

When is the closing date?

You can send in your entries from 1st of September and the competition closes on the 31th of December 2010.


How to submit your entry

  • In order to enter the competition you have to email us. We regret that we cannot process entries that do not follow the guidelines set out below, so please read these instructions carefully.

  • The Short Story must be attached as a single Microsoft Word file

  • You need to use Word 97-2003 file type (.doc extension not .docx)

  • The font should be 12-point, Times New Roman, single line spacing

  • The Word file has to be named as follows: ddmmyy_firstnamesurname_kingoftuzla.doc, where ddmmyy is the date on which you send the email, firstname and surname are your names.

  • ‘King of Tuzla Short Story Competition’ must appear in the subject line of the email

  • The body of the email should contain your contact details

Good luck! We look forward to receiving your story.