The Creative Loafing Fiction Contest 2019

Fiction Illustration
Photo credit: Carla Rozman
CL Fiction Contest 2019 Cover

When Creative Loafing launched its annual Fiction Contest almost 20 years ago, the dial-up Internet of the day could only hint at what online culture would become. But while countless apps, websites, and other communication platforms now exist, the hunger for human connection remains universal — hence this year’s Fiction Contest theme, “Connect.” The 2019 winners depict a young man questioning his status in a new relationship in a small surfing community; a young woman testing her limits on an Outward Bound trip; and a gym employee who suspects his best hope of connection swims in a fishbowl.  

First place:  “Every Other Wave” by Lindsey Baker

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Lindsey Baker
Lindsey Baker

The only story in each of the top three picks of our judges, this contemplative tale uses tactile details to convey how the characters determine their place with each other and in the universe. Judge Katherine Hur, winner of Creative Loafing’s 2018 Fiction Contest, said, “I adored this story. The writing feels like heartache — a testament to the idea of strength in subtlety. The characters come off the page as real people, and the story is a compelling one.”

And judge Soniah Kamal, author of the new novel Unmarriageable, called it “a well-written, poignant story about coincidences and patterns and how human beings experience, or don’t, the world.”


Second place: “On the Guide Rope” by Chesney D’Avis

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Chesney D’Avis
Chesney D’Avis

A young woman overcomes a childhood of illness and an overprotective mother by putting her life literally on the line in Chesney D’Avis’ high-tension tale. Judge Alison Law, host of the “Literary Atlanta” podcast, called it “beautifully written. Good use of suspense and emotional stakes.” Kamal described it as “a very well-narrated story with good command of how to incorporate back story. The language served the story well.” 




Third place: “Speak Fish” by Drew Grossman

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Drew Grossman
Drew Grossman

In a striking coincidence, Grossman’s story “Watch Me” was the third-place winner in CL’s 2018 Fiction Contest, and his uncomfortably intimate look at contemporary obsession had the same placement among this year’s submissions. Hur says, “I remember reading Drew’s story from last year and being amazed by the psychology of his writing. This story pairs humor and sadness so well together, leaving us with a final image that is both utterly absurd and heartbreaking.”


Runner Up: “The Janitor” by Nathan Blankenship

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