Editors' Picks

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Year One

Learn more about the stories that featuring in this edition, and the creative minds behind them

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About

Bandit Fiction's Editors' Picks editions are an annual way of us celebrating the stories which have left a real impression on our editors. We read hundreds of stories every year, publishing only a small percentage of those, but out of that small percentage, there are some stories which have really stuck with us, whose characters we remember long after the final full stop, whose events carry off the page. We ask each of our editors to choose their favourite story from the last year, and pull them together into one collection. In doing this, in narrowing this down to a single story, there are some incredibly tough choices; we each could have chosen three stories, and still not have been able to include some stories that we absolutely adore.

Year One

Cover Art by Hannah Demaine

Hannah is currently studying art history, but dreams of being an artist herself. She spends her time reading books and whenever possible, wandering about outdoors, making sketches and watercolours. 


Hannah has created artwork for Bandit Fiction previously, creating the cover for Issue One, based on the story You Get There. Her piece for Editors Picks, Year One was based on the story The Yellow Rose and Her Boy by Si Lin Chen.

To Whom Do We Belong? by Alicia Barboza

Who do our bodies really belong to? This is one woman's story of being ambushed at her husband's birthday party by her extended family, and being asked the question she least wanted to hear: "When are you two going to have kids?"


About this story, our Editor said:

 "What I love about To Whom Do We Belong? is the amazing empathy I feel for the women who are talking and how they represent a very real part of modern women's life and some of their hardships. It allows the reader, even if they can not relate personally, to empathise with the situation. A great piece of literary fiction."


Alycia Barboza is a fiction writer currently living in Knoxville, Tennessee with her partner and their two cats. She is in the process of obtaining degrees in Creative Writing and Cultural Studies and spends her weekends playing Dungeons and Dragons. When she's not busy attempting to finish her first novel, she watches reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and drinks a lot of craft beer. 

 alyciabarboza.wordpress.com

Twitter: @AlyciaWrites

Instagram: @_ronald_raygun_  

My Father's Hands by David Turton

Sat in a bar, drinking Guinness, a man thinks he's finally found his father, and muses on the nature of life and family as he plucks up the nerve to talk to him.


About this story, our Editor said:

"My Father's Hands takes you on an emotional journey with the protagonist. I was really rooting for the character - I so wanted that man in the pub to be his father. The ending is almost gut-wrenching, which just makes the piece all the more brilliant. The emphasis on the father's hands is a beautiful and thoughtful way of exploring feelings of loss and grief, as well as the way our minds play tricks on us when we really want something." 


David Turton is an author of horror and dark fiction, with his work appearing in several magazines, websites, podcasts and anthologies. Described as ‘A new voice for horror fans everywhere’ by the Gehenna Post, Turton has already reached several readers, with his anthology The Gull and Other Short Tales of Terror, downloaded hundreds of times by fans of the horror genre. His debut novel, The Malaisewas published in December 2018 by Cosmic Egg Books.

Angelo by Robert Jeffreys

Angus is proud of the way his class are progressing, but the behaviour of a new student puts him onto the back foot, and into uncharted waters.


About this story, our Editor said:

"This story had me gripped from the very start. As a teacher I found Angelo was relatable, and the author has expressed the frustrations of behavioural issues extremely well. I thoroughly enjoyed the realism which comes from the simplicity of the plot, which I, as a reader, found incredibly immersive."  

Away by Joe Butler

A grieving mother tries to find solace by hiding away in her daughter's bedroom, but when she comes across a strange book, with doodled hearts on the pages and a missing cover, she learns there might be more to her daughter's tragic death than she'd first thought.


About this story, our Editor said: 

'Straight away, this had me gripped. You're immediately introduced to an engaging, hurting character struggling to come to terms with the world they now find themselves in, and when she starts reading the strange book in her daughter's bedroom, I was enthralled. It just grabs you. This was one of the first stories we ever received, one of the first we ever published, and its a story I keep coming back to read over and over again.'


Joe Butler lives and works in London, but dreams of living and working elsewhere. He spends his time between writing things, as an occasional musician, artist, and avid player of video games.

www.writelikeashark.wordpress.com

Twitter: @writelikeashark

Stairwells and Stairways by Bryan Keon-Cohen

Jack is alone in St. Petersburg when the greasy, possibly homeless Yuri and his wife Mary attach themselves to him, but as the night runs on and Russia grows dark, they seem unwilling to let him out of their sights.


About this story, our Editor said:

"There aren't many stories that can give us a protagonist so pretentious and dislikable, and still keep us enthralled until the very end. The characters were so much more; they crawled out of the story, imperfections and all, and lingered in my room long after I had finished reading. A simple enough premise quickly led to a dark and amazingly written exploration of guilt and remorse, and the story hurtled towards a conclusion that even now, months later, lurks somewhere in my mind."

 

Bryan Keon-Cohen lives and works in Melbourne, Australia. He practised as a barrister for 35 years, was appointed Queens Counsel in 1996, and retired in 2016. He has lectured and published extensively on native title issues; was Secretary of Liberty Victoria (1980s – 90s); and was appointed Adjunct Professor at Monash University Law School, (2005-2008). Bryan has published short fiction in Australian journals and is married to June, another lawyer. They have three daughters and four grandchildren. Bryan plays golf badly.

 www.bryankeoncohen.com 

Wolves by Dominika Olszówka

A killer sent from the future, Charlie ends up in a snowy village, in search of her target, but the encounter doesn't go as expected, and she begins to ask questions she's never asked before.


About this story, our Editor said:

"The first time I finished reading Wolves, I had to sit back and catch my breath. Here is a sci-fi thriller that strikes the right balance of tension, character, and intrigue to make a truly gripping experience. That alone is enough to put a story into consideration in my book, but what really cinched it for me is just how well-realized the world (worlds?) are. Details of the main character's home world were expertly woven into the narrative, and the cold, bleak sense of inevitability could be felt in every moment. Absolutely gripping; if it were the start of a novel I'd buy it in a heartbeat."


Dominika Olszówka moved from Poland to the UK two years ago, and is currently going into her third year of BA Film and Creative Writing at the University of Essex, and hoping that anytime soon she will come up with her dissertation idea. She is most interested in exploring what makes good people do bad things, bonus points if it’s set in space. It’s her second online publication, but first in an English magazine.  

Facebook: @DominikaOlszowka

Immolation by Callum Colback

Running from the Imperium, Armana and Danall fight to protect their daughter from the clutches of those who only wish to use her. The prophecy must not come to pass.


About this story, our Editor said: 

"It is a rare story that can manage in such a short span to get me fully invested in the world that author is building. But on top of that, it is a world that I feel like I understood in full. Immolation reads like a preview chapter to a professional publication; it had (and still has) me hanging on the edge of my seat for the next installment, if one ever comes."


Callum Colback is a Scottish born writer based in Bedfordshire, UK. He writes across all genres, although sci-fi, fantasy, and horror are closest to his heart. When not writing he can be found sketching, playing guitar, and chipping away at the ever growing to-be-read pile of books stacked around the house. 

The Yellow Rose and Her Boy by Si Lin Chen

In the greatest garden there ever was, a slave boy finds a single yellow rose, unloved, and does everything he can to save it.


About this story, our Editor said:

"This story, the tale of a slave boy who refuses to give up on a single yellow rose in a king's garden, stayed with me long after I'd read it, and I've read it multiple times. There's a magic and beauty to almost every sentence. Before I'd finished reading it, I had already talked to numerous people about it - such was the sheer joy this story brought me that I had to take breaks just to share that happiness before I could continue. I couldn't possibly recommend it enough."

 

Si Lin Chen is an eleventh grade Chinese-Canadian student living and studying in Shanghai. She writes in both Chinese and English, occasionally translating her own works from one language to the other. Dystopian fiction, fables and fantasy are her favourite genres; she’ll happily write anything that comes to mind, though. A passionate Oscar Wilde lover, she has two cats named after characters from Dorian Gray.

Email: silin_chen@hotmail.com