Momaya Press Awards 2012

Congratulations to the writers chosen for publication in the Momaya Annual Review 2012

On Sale Now – print and kindle editions


The Authors 


Judith PearsonJudith Pearson, Encephalartos

There has been a gap in my story writing of about thirty years, but I am very happy to be back into it. I’ve written other things in that time, and there have been lots of narratives running through my head, but I’ve finally got round to it again. Straight away there is that familiar pleasure of having an idea fermenting in the back of your mind, and then spooling out the words one by one.

My reaction to winning the Momaya competition this year: astonishment. How exciting to see my first short story in print.

My story is named after a plant species in Kew Gardens and is set in the Palm House, a beautiful Victorian glass and iron structure. One step inside the slightly rusting door and tropical plants surround you. They are all a long way from home and  that gave me the idea for the main character who has also been transplanted. I have spent many a winter’s day in the Palm House, steaming gently in the heat. It is an evocative place. The only thing missing from that jungle are the monkeys.

alice_shepardAlice Shepard, Momaya Press Judge, shares her thoughts on Judith’s remarkable story:

Judith Pearson’s Encephalartos impressed all of the judges. The heady, fertile world of the botannical garden provides a sharp contrast with the dessicated spectre of Samuel’s wife, who somehow manages to loom over the story despite never actually appearing. Samuel’s identification with the ‘solitary, male’ Encephalartos, like him a refugee in a cold climate, is poignant, and his rising defense of the plant’s role in the garden becomes an increasingly desperate statement. All of the judges enjoyed the revelation of the first paragraphs: Samuel is not, as first appears, an explorer in a remote and humid terrain, but is instead simply doing a day’s work in the artificially heated environment of the garden. I was particularly moved by the author’s description of Samuel’s marriage; ‘he and his wife have been married a long time, with all the ambiguity that phrase contains’, and her illness, although devastating, seems to provide his formerly gregarious wife with a withdrawal that Samuel reluctantly admits he is more comfortable with. Samuel’s final act is not one of ‘giving up’ but instead one of assertion: one life may have ended but in the doing of this, he has aligned himself with, and given sustenance to, an ecosystem that will outlive both him and his wife. In his act, he gives justification to the ‘inscrutable’ and ‘alone’ Encephalartos. We also admired Judith Pearson’s use of language: her lush sentences recreate the fertile environment of the garden; descriptions are layered upon descriptions, conjuring up the dense, heady atmosphere of the palm house. The judges were in complete agreement that Encephalartos should be awarded first place.


Michelle Williams, Whiskey & Honey

Michelle WilliamsI have wanted to be a writer since I was a young child reading Judy Blume and have recently decided to try and follow this dream, cutting down my working hours to allow more time for writing. In the past year I have won a place in the Stringybark Australian History Anthology, come runner up in The Word Hut competition and the Chapter One Promotions Romantic Fiction competition and have won a place in an upcoming Writers for Animals anthology. My first novel is currently under consideration by an agent and it would be a dream come true to be a published author in the future.

My inspiration for the story “Whiskey and Honey” came after thinking about the concept of Heat. As the images of dried whiskey in a glass and wavy lines rising from sticky pavements formed in my mind, I also began to think of more emotional ideas of heat: being out of one’s depth or in trouble in some way. Before long the seedy world of 1950s gangster America seemed like the perfect setting, the character of a young boy being duplicitous in his first act as a gangster and bringing ‘heat’ onto himself the perfect tale to be told under the backdrop of a heat wave. Nate is trying to play the big man in a world he has little respect for with all his misplaced bravado, his judgment clouded by his love for a woman.

To win second place with the story was a great shock, as Momaya is such a prestigious award. I am thrilled to have placed and to be published, and am very proud to be a part of such a wonderful review.

In the future I hope to continue enjoying writing for competitions and writing novels in my free time. To become a published author would be a dream come true, and I’m sure the confidence boost and accolade of being published in the 2012 Momaya Annual Review will be a big step up the ladder!

Andy Callus, Momaya Press Judge, shares his thoughts on Michelle’s vivid story:
Dark deeds and betrayal mix with tenderness and heroism for a powerful story set in the oppressive heat of an urban summer. The characters and location are barely sketched, and yet a vivid and menacing picture emerges from the very first words.


Eve Vamvas

Eve Vamvas, The Interview

I am a former journalist who now writes short stories and scripts.  I graduated from Sussex University with an MA in Creative Writing in 2000, came second in the Fish International Short Story competition and won a week long writing retreat at Anam Cara, Ireland.  My stories are published in anthologies by Earlyworks Press, The Rubery Book Award and the Yeovil Literary Prize. I am working on a linked collection of short stories and my next script for radio.

This is the third year I entered the Momaya Press competition, firstly because of its reputation but also for the challenge of writing to a theme.  Heat reminded me of an anecdote about a job interview where the candidate was asked to describe the colour red to a blind person and drew a blank.  Unfortunately for Gareth Bates, the character in my story, the same question prompts a reliving of a long forgotten humiliation that provides him with an answer (but too late) while revealing a lot about him to the reader.

Being published (finally!) by Momaya Press is an honour that will continue to encourage me long after the book launch.  I am editing and developing more short stories and ideas for a comedy that need moving from one liners in a notebook into a script.

Polly Courtney, Momaya Press Judge, shares her thoughts on Eve’s well crafted story:

This is a very sophisticated and well-written short story, which quickly found its way into the judges’ top three. We love the way the protagonist’s background unravels, carefully and cleverly, to mesh with the portrayed situation. For me personally, the situation and characters resonated loudly. I recognised the fragile ego and the casual misogyny of the interviewee from my days in the City and I found myself believing in the character entirely. The inner monologue is brilliant, the setting is perfectly described and the backdrop is so plausible that I found myself wondering whether this was autobiographical. This is an inspired short story by a very promising new writer.


Kerry BarnerKerry Barner, The Devil’s Darning Needles

I was born in Yorkshire but have lived in London since 1994.  I am a senior publishing editor for an international academic publisher. In 2009 I was shortlisted for Wasafiri’s New Writer Prize and my work has appeared in Brand literary magazine, Notes From The Underground, Anthropology and Humanism, Spilling Ink Review, The Bicycle Review and now, happily, the Momaya Annual Review 2012.

I like organising principles in my writing. A story about the life of a damselfly, structured around a single day, seemed perfect. It begins with the heat or “birth” of the morning sun right to the end of the damselfly’s life as the evening cools. Where did my inspiration come from? Where most great nature stories come from, our national treasure, David Attenborough. If you were to compress your life into 24 hours, how would you spend it? If I only had 24 hours to live, I wouldn’t mind spending an hour of it with him! Being published by Momaya Press means a hell of a lot to me. Call me traditional, but nothing beats opening a page and seeing your name and story in print.


Deborah Britton

Deborah Britton, Perfect Imperfection

Having worked as a lawyer in London, Brussels and Luxembourg I now live in Paris where I’m raising my children.   While being a mother I’ve trained in Journey Therapy work, non-violent communication skills, studied different spiritual traditions and taught remedial English.  For the past two years I have been part of a great writing group of women from all over the world.

When I read that the theme for the 2012 Review was Heat somehow I just knew I had to set the story in India.   For a while I had wanted to write about the experience of Consciousness and meditation and the creative process.  And I had wanted to write a story that showed that we get second chances and that we can find joy again even after the darkest night of the soul.   I always meditate before I write as I find it helps create a space where ideas can flow.  And as I meditated on the theme of heat, this was the story that wanted to be told and the pieces of the story seemed to fall naturally into place: a woman’s journey back to life and to joy and her reconnection to her own creativity.



Sarah.CuminSarah Cuming, The Embers of a Masterpiece

I live in a village near the New Forest, a place I consider to be of huge emotional importance to my writing. I am studying for a Masters in Writing at the University of Warwick and have had my short story “Fingernails” published in The Draft: Stories from the Warwick MA in Writing (2011), as well as a short story called “Magazine Me” in this year’s Masters students’ anthology Papercuts (2012). The story that Momaya has published here, “The Embers of a Masterpiece”, is my first competition success, and so I am very excited by it!

The inspiration for “The Embers of a Masterpiece” was very straightforward. I had been out walking, huddled up in my coat against unseasonably cold weather, and had observed items of clothing apparently thrown away or lost by children, the occasional hat or glove, even the odd sock, all soaked with cold rainwater. I wondered what would happen to them. Who would pick these items up if the original owners didn’t claim them? That initial thought snowballed into the story printed here.

Having this story published by Momaya Press means an awful lot to me. It is my first competition success of any kind, and I was over the moon when I found the email. I did a double take and was smiling for the rest of the evening.

My plans for writing in the future are to continue writing short stories, something I love, and also to continue work on my first novel, hopefully finishing it within the next year.



K.M.ElkesK.M. Elkes, Horn Shells Like Coiled Snakes

I live and work in Bristol, UK. I am a prize-winning author, a journalist and a travel writer. My fiction has achieved success in competitions such as Momaya Press, Flash 500, Orange Labyrinth and Words Literary Journal, and has appeared in several anthologies including Your Messages (Blue Chrome Press) and Imagine Coal (Leaf Books). My flash fiction stories has been published on a number of online literary websites including Red Fez, Waterhouse Review and East of the Web. I tweet writing related musings at

“Horn Shells Like Coiled Snakes” was inspired by the travels I have made in South East Asia, particularly island-hopping down the Andaman Sea where each destination seems smaller, hotter and more remote than the last. I have met many people on my travels, including a fair share of couples for whom the act of travel can expose the fault lines in their relationship. When I combined these elements with my observations of the values of Thai society such as not losing face, not causing embarrassment and having a ‘cool heart’, the story began to take shape.

I feel rather proud to have been selected for publication by Momaya, in part because the competition encourages depth and genuine emotional resonance in writers and also because, in previous years, writers whose work I admire have found success with the competition.

As for the future, it’s really quite simple. I have a completed novel looking for a publisher, in addition to a raft of ideas which need turning into stories. In other words, plenty of work to do!


pruePrue Harrison, Maiden Curry

I have a passion for words. To write, to read, to talk. I moved from England to Singapore at 24 and am still there, over half my life later.

I completed my first women’s commercial fiction novel and am working on the sequel while trying to get published. Meantime I write for a museum magazine, short stories, competitions, a blog and business presentations. I am a graduate of  The Writers Bureau Comprehensive Creative Writer’s Course and a member of The Association of Freelance Writers, The Society of Singapore Writers, More Writers Abroad and Fiction Addiction.

“Maiden Curry” is loosely based on a true event that occurred in Singapore in the early 1980’s. The memory of that event stays with me whenever I venture to eat curry. The heat of the kitchen, combined with the heat of the spices seemed the perfect recipe for a story under the “Heat” theme. I hope you enjoy the read.

I am very excited to be published by Momaya Press and join writers around the world in having our stories read and enjoyed by a wide audience. After all, we write not just to write, but to be read.

While aiming to get my first novel “Ennismore Gardens” published, I will continue to write Short Stories for as long as readers enjoy reading them.


sarah hegartySarah Hegarty, Off the Shelf

I was born in Bristol and grew up in the north-west, but now live in Guildford with my family. After graduating in Mandarin from Leeds University I worked as a journalist, before studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University. My short fiction has been published in Mslexia, previously in the Momaya Annual Review, on the web, and placed in competitions. My story, “Something Hidden,” won the 2011 Bridge House Short Story competition. Another story will be published in a Cinnamon Press collection in 2013. My first novel, “The Ash Zone,” won the 2011 Yeovil Literary Prize.

“Off the Shelf” was inspired by dreaming on weekly supermarket trips, observing so many earth-bound people, and wondering, ‘what if…’ Off the Shelf was previously published in Mslexia.

I’m thrilled to be published again by Momaya. Seeing my work in print never ceases to be exciting – and inspiring. Many thanks to all involved for providing the encouragement and confidence boost that every writer needs!

Future writing plans include finishing the first draft of my next novel, but I can’t resist the lure of short stories… and the Momaya competition!


laura_huntleyLaura Huntley, Fever

I am a published writer from England. I mostly write short stories and flash fiction, but am also currently working on my first novel.

I am delighted to have been chosen for publication for the 2012 Momaya Annual Review. I had such fun writing the story ‘Fever’; I wanted to produce a dark and sensual tale that kept the reader wondering and I hope that I have achieved this. I write every day, mostly flash fiction, and I enjoy entering writing competitions. I have made a solid start on my first novel and my plan is simply to keep going until it is finished.




Alison.LockAlison Lock, Erthenta

I am a poet and a writer of short fiction.  My first collection of poetry is “A Slither of Air,” Indigo Dreams Publishing 2011.  My poems have been published in several magazines and anthologies including Reach Poetry, Pennine Platform, Assent, Dawntreader, and the Soul Feathers Macmillan anthology. I was Poet-in-Residence for the Holmfirth Arts Festival 2012.

As well as poetry, several of my short stories have been chosen for publication.  I have won 1st and 2nd prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly competition and am presently working on mt first collection of short stories, “Above the Parapet,” to be published in 2013 by Indigo Dreams Publishing. She has an MA in Literature Studies.

“Erthenta” is a futuristic story indulging entirely in a flight of the imagination. The Earth has been knocked from its axis and no longer spins.  The characters live on the side of the planet that is nearest to the sun where the surface is a place of extreme heat and outbursts of volcanic fire.  The only safe place to survive is below the surface.

Gaining an honorable mention in the Momaya Awards is a real boost to my confidence particularly as this story is a departure from my usual writing style and an experiment in terms of genre.

Iseul.OharaIseul O’hara, Verbatim

I was born in Melbourne, grew up in regional Queensland, and have lived and worked in Brisbane under another name for almost thirty years. I initially had ambitions in the visual arts but a distinct lack of success led to a series of more conventional employment choices in areas including sales and construction. I later turned to writing and have achieved some success in short fiction and writing for the screen.






Mary.ReynoldsMary Reynolds, Rocky Road

I completed a crime thriller in 2011 and am currently working on my second novel as part of the MFA programme at UCD, having already graduated from UCD with an MA in Creative Writing. My short stories have been long-listed in the Doire Press 1st Annual International Fiction Competition 2012, the Bristol Short Story Prize 2012 and the RTE Guide/Penguin Ireland Short Story Competition 2012. Other stories will be published shortly in the Five Stop Story e-book and the UCD Anthology, “New Tricks with Matches.”

The inspiration for the short story “Rocky Road” came from true events, following a mad and conversationless journey to a friend’s wedding over ten years ago. As soon as I saw the Momaya short story theme, “heat,” it brought back that stifling summer day, heavy with the smell of animal skins.

I am, of course, honoured to have been chosen for publication by Momaya Press as it gets me past a milestone along the way to becoming a writer and gives me a great sense of achievement.

In addition to working on a second novel and embarking on an MFA in creative writing, I continue to write short stories for entry to various competitions.


The Judges


Andy Callus is a newswire journalist who works as a copy editor for Reuters in London’s Canary Wharf. He began his working life in 1980s Fleet Street, and has reported for Reuters and other newswires in Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore and Hanoi.


Kay Peddle was born in South Africa and moved to the UK in 2006. She has worked at a small South African literary press as a copy-editor, completed an MA in International Publishing at Oxford Brookes University, an internship at The World Bank and has done reading for a leading literary agency based in Oxford. She is currently an assistant editor at Random House.


Polly Courtney is an “accidental” novelist whose works include Golden Handcuffs, a semi-autobiographical exposé on city life, and It’s a Man’s World, a controversial take on the world of lads’ mags. A fierce champion of the underdog, she is known for breaking free from HarperCollins in protest at the titles and cover designs assigned to her books. For more information, please visit


Alice Shepherd works in website management and digital marketing. Prior to this, she was an Assistant Editor at Penguin, where she worked on a wide range of commercial fiction. Having started her publishing career at Abner Stein literary agency, she then went on to work at Headline Publishing Group. She continues to edit manuscripts in her own time.


Momaya Press Directors

Maya Cointreau
 received a degree in Russian Literature from Smith College in 1996 and has over 15 years of experience in publishing and graphic arts. She has written and published six fiction and non-fiction books, and was managing editor of DCC Magazine, a magazine with a circulation of more than 60,000 readers. She works as an artist and graphic designer from her studio in Connecticut, and is currently writing another book. Her writing and design work can be seen at and


Monisha Saldanha earned her MBA at Harvard Business School in 2001 and has been working in publishing and internet commerce ever since. She believes that building a worldwide audience for the short story is vital to the promotion of this art form, and is proud that Momaya Press is increasingly recognized as the premiere forum for short story writers.








Congratulations to all the writers published in 2012

First Place
Encephalartos, Judith Pearson

Second Place
Whiskey & Honey, Michelle Williams

Third Place
The Interview, Eve Vamvas

Honorable Mention
The Devil’s Darning Needles, Kerry Barner
Heart Shells Like Coiled Snakes, K.M. Elkes
Maiden Curry, Prue Harrison
Off the Shelf, Sarah Hegarty
Erthenta, Alison Lock
Verbatim, Iseul O’hara
Rocky Road, Mary Reynolds

Published Under the Theme “Heat”
Perfect Imperfection, Deborah Britton
The Embers of a Masterpiece, Sarah Cuming
Fever, Laura Huntley


Photos, Videos & Speeches from previous Momaya Press Awards:

Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2014
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2013
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2012
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2011
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2010
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2009
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2008
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2007
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2006
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2005
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2004