Reading Series

In celebration of the fifth year of the Literary Taxidermy Writing Competition, we're pleased to continue our series of readings by some of the remarkable literary taxidermists who have participated in our competition. It's a great way to visit (or re-visit!) some of the most-exciting stories and poems from all seven anthologies of literary taxidermy from Regulus Press. You'll get to hear each story (or poem) in its entirety, and learn a little bit about how the piece came to be written. We'll be adding new stories and poems every few weeks throughout the new year—so check back often. Big THANK YOU to all our writers who chose to participate and share their live readings. We loved this opportunity to meet you virtually, especially during these pandemic years, and we're certain all your fellow taxidermists will enjoy meeting you as well. (If you'd like to know in advance when the next recordings will appear, subscribe to the Literary Taxidermy Mailing List. It's the easiest way to get updates.)

Paula Aamli — "To My Executors"
Khariya Ali — "A Songbird’s Silence"
Steve Amos — "Thirty-four Stories"
Hilari Anderson — "MIQ Haiku In Quarantine with KM"
Kerri Ashes — "Thursday Afternoon"
Nathan Baker — "The Last Directive"
Thomas Baldwin — "The Crystal Tower"
Erika Bauer — "A Dark and Final Space"
Erika Bauer — "If Only She Could Have Been Good"
Ned Herbert Boyden — "The Library"
Liz Breslin — "Afterwards They Built Bigger Fences"
Asumini C — "Assumptions"
Cuifen Chen — "Sunshade, Starlight"
Carol Josephine Dixon — "Wedding Day"
Sean Fallon — "Me and Mimi"
Josephine Greenland — "Compass of the Winds"
Jenny Hanson — "May 8th, 2025"
Arynn Haws — "Everything After"
Mariah Hopkins — "Waiting for the Great Fire"
Samantha Johnson — "Serpent King"
Julia Jordan — "The Salvation of 1-2-4"
Mel Kennard — "Attila the Hen"
David Kerekes — "The Missing Husband"
NEW Emma Lamont-Messer — "Daleko Tea"
Amanda le Bas de Plumetot — "Cornucopia"
Josh Lefkowitz — "My Final Lover"
Amber Logan — "KTN 2.3"
Katy Madgwick — "Dust Jackets"
Barbara Corrado Pope — "Indecision"
Christopher Rowson — "The Beginner's Guide to Endings"
Shannon Savvas — "Ronnie"
Anna Shannon — "The Tenant"
NEW Shara Sinor — "The Seedy Café"
Sam Szanto — "125"
Stephen Yolland — "The Hunt"

12/9/21

Cuifen Chen — “Sunshade, Starlight”

Cuifen Chen is working towards her MA in Creative Writing in Singapore, but has spent many years abroad in the UK and Australia. Her poetry has appeared in the Southeast Asian Review of English, and in 2018 she was the first prize winner of the UK’s Troubadour International Poetry Prize. “Sunshade, Starlight” was her first published story, and the winner of the 2019 Literary Taxidermy Writing Competition. We loved the story’s setting, the tension between the characters, and of course the idea of magical papercraft.

Cuifen Chen's story appears in PLEASURE TO BURN, the 2019 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451. The first line of the novel is "It was a pleasure to burn." The last line is "When we reach the city." What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Cuifen Chen imagined:

She says: “It was Qing Ming season when I discovered the Literary Taxidermy competition. Qing Ming is when we remember ancestors by visiting the temple and burning paper offerings, so when I saw the words It was a pleasure to burn, that was what came to me immediately. A girl in a temple, burning a paper offering. Who she was, and why she was doing that, took more than a month to get onto paper, but that opening image was vivid from the start.” Back to top.


Stephen Yolland — “The Hunt”

Stephen "Yolly" Yolland is a writer and company director in Victoria, Australia. He has an enduring love of language, a strong social bent, and a tragic addiction to the Southampton Football Club — tragic since they play on the other side of the world. He was recently a finalist for the Ada Cambridge Biographical Prose Prize of 2019, and has a published volume of poetry called Read Me.

Stephen Yolland's story appears in PLEASURE TO BURN, the 2019 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451. The first line of the novel is "It was a pleasure to burn." The last line is "When we reach the city." What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Stephen Yolland imagined:

He says: “I was instantly intrigued by the idea and discipline of literary taxidermy, and for any Australian, burn always means the bush. On the driest continent on the planet, bushfire is integral to our life. From there, the opportunity to contrast two utterly different cultures, as well as reflect a real, historic incident, was simply too tempting to resist.” Back to top.

12/30/21

Josephine Greenland — “Compass of the Winds”

Josephine Greenland is a Swedish English teacher living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her debut novel Embers was started during her MA in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham, and will be published in early 2021. She plays violin, enjoys running and hiking in the great outdoors, is obsessed with herbal tea, and has a strong affiliation with black cats.

Josephine Greenland's story appears in 34 STORIES, the 2020 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World. The first line of the novel is "A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories." The last line is "South-west, south-south-west, south, south-east, east...." What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Josephine Greenland imagined:

She says: “My story was inspired by the Rana Plaza incident in Bangladesh in 2013 and the real case of a young girl who survived in the ruins for seventeen days. I spent hours reading articles and watching interviews about the event to make my retelling as authentic as possible, and to let the voice of the girl come through strongly in my narrator.” Back to top.


Amanda le Bas de Plumetot — “Cornucopia”

Amanda le Bas de Plumetot says she is “just a lady who sells popcorn in a cinema” in Melbourne, Australia. But we think she underestimates her success as a writer. Her work can be found in Best Australian Stories 2006 and the short-story collection Briefs. Her winning story for the 2020 literary taxidermy competition offers a unique take on Huxley’s first and last lines. The alien world she conjures is simultaneously primitive, futuristic, and surreal; and we loved the Joycean quality of her language.

Amanda le Bas de Plumetot's story appears in 34 STORIES, the 2020 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World. The first line of the novel is "A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories." The last line is "South-west, south-south-west, south, south-east, east...." What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Amanda le Bas de Plumetot imagined:

She says: “I’m a granny that works in a cinema so I’ve had a lot of spare time during lockdown. During a recent writing camp I wondered ‘what do monsters do with the children they steal?’ My friends thought the answer was obvious: sexual enslavement or cannibalism. But I thought there might be a different possibility....” Back to top.


Thomas Baldwin — “The Crystal Tower”

Thomas Baldwin is a journalist in Dunfermline, Scotland. He is married with three children, and most days commutes fifteen miles to work — by bike! “The Crystal Tower” is his first published short story.

Thomas Baldwin's story appears in 34 STORIES, the 2020 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World. The first line of the novel is "A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories." The last line is "South-west, south-south-west, south, south-east, east...." What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Thomas Baldwin imagined:

He says: “I’d recently read Brave New World when I came across the Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition. Shortly thereafter, this story arrived in my head, more-or-less fully-formed and, even more miraculously, the right length. The world of the story is obviously influenced by totalitarian regimes, but in the West we don’t need to look that far for brutally-exploited workers, pointlessly-grandiose projects, and leaders who are interested only in personal glory. I’d like to dedicate this story to my grandfather, Stan Baldwin, who passed away shortly before it was written.” Back to top.

1/20/22

Khariya Ali — “A Songbird’s Silence”

Khariya Ali is a paralegal living in London, in the UK. “A Songbird’s Silence” is her first published short story.

Khariya Ali's story appears in 124 BELOVED, the 2020 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Toni Morrison's novel Beloved. The first line of the novel is "124 was spiteful." The last line is "Beloved." What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Khariya Ali imagined:

She says: “The title was the last part of this story to be written. The rest was the occupation of a bright afternoon in May, and the copious free time afforded by lockdown. I’ve always been fascinated by the written word as an immersive experience; its ability to carry you away and draw you in, leaving you wanting more by the time it releases you. I was able to enjoy a small piece of that while Wren and her world coalesced on paper, and I can only hope that there is equal enjoyment for you in reading it.” Back to top.


Julia Jordan — “The Salvation of 1-2-4”

Julia Jordan is a part-time non-profit grant writer living in Melbourne, Australia. Although trained as a lawyer, she now spends most of her time raising two small children. Her favorite things include sunshine, porch swings, baked goods, and her family. “The Salvation of 1-2-4” is her first published work.

Julia Jordan's poem appears in 124 BELOVED, the 2020 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Toni Morrison's novel Beloved. The first line of the novel is "124 was spiteful." The last line is "Beloved." What kind of poem would you write between those lines? Here's what Julia Jordan imagined:

She says: “I have a two-year-old and a four-year-old, and my days are filled with picture books and toddler songs — so it is not surprising that my literary taxidermy features animals and rhyming verse! The idea came to me on a sleepless night, and the poem was tweaked over many subsequent nights as my mind travelled through the alphabet trying to find the right words to rhyme together.” Back to top.

2/10/22

Asumini C — “Assumptions”

Asumini C is a graduate from San Francisco State University with a BA in Africana Studies. “Assumptions” is her first published story.

Asumini C's story appears in AGAINST THE BAR, the 2018 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Dashiell Hammett's novel The Thin Man. The first line of the novel is "I was leaning against the bar in a speakeasy on 52nd street, waiting for Nora to finish her Christmas shopping, when a girl got up from the table where she had been sitting with three other people and came over to me." The last line is “That may be,” Nora said, “but it’s all pretty unsatisfactory.” What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Asumini C imagined:

She says: “I was born Black and proud and I desire to be informed, educated, and empowered. I pour that into my writing. My story is a brief and witty look at current matters that are vital.” Back to top.


Sean Fallon — “Me and Mimi”

Sean Fallon is an education consultant in Victoria, Australia. He is currently working on a novel about John Wayne running for president, and has had his fiction published in The Big Issue and Reader’s Digest. His submission to the Carroll contest, “The Kitten God Heresy,” received honorable mention, as did his submission to the Parker contest, “Sext.”

Sean Fallon's story appears in AGAINST THE BAR, the 2018 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Dashiell Hammett's novel The Thin Man. The first line of the novel is "I was leaning against the bar in a speakeasy on 52nd street, waiting for Nora to finish her Christmas shopping, when a girl got up from the table where she had been sitting with three other people and came over to me." The last line is “That may be,” Nora said, “but it’s all pretty unsatisfactory.” What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Sean Fallon imagined:

He says: “I was waiting for a meal in a restaurant while on a business trip and I saw this competition on Facebook. As soon as I read the first line of The Thin Man, the story jumped into my head pretty much fully formed, and I wrote the first draft on my phone in-between forkfuls of the fish and chips I had for dinner. The biggest struggle for me was the ending. Trying to fit Hammett’s words into the story was very tricky and took quite a few tries before I could make it work.” Back to top.


Kerri Ashes — “Thursday Afternoon”

Kerri Ashes recently graduated university in Liverpool, England, with a degree in Linguistics. When not studying or writing, she’s a barista, pulling shots. Her work has been published in the Young Writers Poetry Anthology and she was shortlisted for the Lancaster Writing Awards.

Kerri Ashes's story appears in AGAINST THE BAR, the 2018 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Dashiell Hammett's novel The Thin Man. The first line of the novel is "I was leaning against the bar in a speakeasy on 52nd street, waiting for Nora to finish her Christmas shopping, when a girl got up from the table where she had been sitting with three other people and came over to me." The last line is “That may be,” Nora said, “but it’s all pretty unsatisfactory.” What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Kerri Ashes imagined:

She says: “The pieces fell into place fairly quickly, with the final story coming together in a day. I focused on making Nora and Elizabeth’s relationship as authentic as possible; Elizabeth’s first thought at every turn is Nora, so I wanted readers to understand why she cares so much about her. I really enjoyed writing about Elizabeth as she’s such a conflicted character — her curiosity and impulsivity fuel the story, but they also cause her the most regret in the end.” Back to top.

3/3/22

Ned Herbert Boyden — “The Library”

Ned Herbert Boyden is trying to feed and shelter a family of four in a wildly-overpriced city in British Columbia, Canada. His story “A Certain Degree of Latitude” was published in Shadows Express (Fall, 2010).

Ned Herbert Boyden's story appears in ONE THING WAS CERTAIN, the 2018 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Lewis Carroll's novel Through the Looking-Glass. The first line of the novel is "One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it: — it was the black kitten’s fault entirely." The last line is “Which do you think it was?” What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Ned Herbert Boyden imagined:

He says: “My co-worker was unwillingly assigned to the library of the law firm I work for, so I jokingly said I would write a story for this contest called, ‘The Girl Who Went to the Library.’ I tossed it three times. I credit my writers group for helping me break through when someone posted an article on ‘How to Write Great Villains.’ Twenty-five cups of coffee later, the villain was a person — an ugly one, but with a backstory.” Back to top.


Amber Logan — “KTN 2.3”

Amber Logan is a PhD student in creative writing at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, where her thesis is examining the intersection between Hans Christian Andersen’s dark fairy tale “The Shadow” and the works of Haruki Murakami. A number of her poems and short stories have been published in Strangeling: The Art of Jasmine Becket-Griffith (2013) and Forever Strange (2018).

Amber Logan's story appears in ONE THING WAS CERTAIN, the 2018 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Lewis Carroll's novel Through the Looking-Glass. The first line of the novel is "One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it: — it was the black kitten’s fault entirely." The last line is “Which do you think it was?” What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Amber Logan imagined:

She says: “My story was inspired by the short story ‘Hills Like White Elephants’ by Ernest Hemingway. I’ve always wanted to try writing a piece where the real story is in the subtext, not in the character’s actual conversation. Once I decided to go with this approach I thought ‘well, I can’t make the kittens actual kittens then,’ so I decided to use a fun acronym (KTN) which then inspired the tech-y setting.” Back to top.

3/24/22

Josh Lefkowitz — “My Final Lover”

Josh Lefkowitz is a legal practice specialist from Brooklyn, New York. His poems have been published in Electric Literature, The Huffington Post, Washington Square Review, Barrelhouse, Shooter Literary Magazine (UK), Southword Journal (Ireland), and many other places.

Josh Lefkowitz's poem appears in TELEPHONE ME NOW, the 2018 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Dorothy Parker's story "A Telephone Call." The first line of her story is "Please, God, let him telephone me now." The last line is “Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five.” What kind of poem would you write between those lines? Here's what Josh Lefkowitz imagined:

He says: “I felt a familiarity with the despair of the first line, as I definitely know what it’s like to be hoping and pleading to some deity for the phone to ring (or a text message reply in today’s preferred communication methods). Then, eyeing the final line, I tried to think of the most dramatic situation that might warrant the counting. I (aim to) write a poem every day, so this was a great opportunity to step outside the autobiographical impulse and work within Parker’s provided constraints. She’s a real hero of mine.” Back to top.


Arynn Haws — “Everything After”

Arynn Haws is a library clerk from California, in the United States, and a graduate of California State University, East Bay. Her fiction and poetry has been published in the 2017 edition of the Suisun Valley Review.

Arynn Haws's story appears in TELEPHONE ME NOW, the 2018 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Dorothy Parker's story "A Telephone Call." The first line of the story is "Please, God, let him telephone me now." The last line is “Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five.” What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Arynn Haws imagined:

She says: “Out of all the options for this competition, Dorothy Parker’s story was the one I was not familiar with. What I felt upon reading those first and last lines, however, was something deeply sad — I couldn’t explain the feeling, but it was there, and it ached. I knew that whatever story I created from those words would need to emulate that emotion. In truth, that is how most of my stories come to life — with me, feeling and then typing out that feeling the best I can.” Back to top.

4/14/22

Shannon Savvas — “RONNIE”

Shannon Savvas is a New Zealand writer who divides her heart and life between Cyprus, England, and New Zealand. She takes photographs of unnoticed things, particularly the small marvelous structures in nature, and the beauty of plants past their prime. She is a former-nurse, and has been published both online and in print. In addition to her success with literary taxidermy, she is the short-fiction winner of the 2019 Over the Edge New Writing Prize at the Cúirt Literary festival in Galway.

Shannon Savvas's story appears in PLEASURE TO BURN, the 2019 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451. The first line of the novel is "It was a pleasure to burn." The last line is "When we reach the city." What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Shannon Savvas imagined:

She says: “A newspaper article about a nightmare guest in a small hotel sparked this story, but it never felt right or complete until I considered fitting it into the 2019 Literary Taxidermy prompt. Doing so breathed life into the story, giving me a real sense of my narrator.” Back to top.


Christopher Rowson — “The Beginner’s Guide to Endings”

Christopher Rowson is a UK writer who is taking a short break from his first novel to concentrate on short stories. When Christopher is not writing he is thinking about writing. And when he’s not thinking about writing he spends his time reading, which makes him think about writing. A small amount of time is set aside for eating and battling house cats. “The Beginner’s Guide to Endings” is his first published short story.

Christopher Rowson's story appears in PLEASURE TO BURN, the 2019 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451. The first line of the novel is "It was a pleasure to burn." The last line is "When we reach the city." What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Christopher Rowson imagined:

He says: “This story is definitely not based on my wife who is definitely not a serial snooper and is certainly not in possession of several salacious videos of strangers. This story asks how much our digital possessions are worth in a world of disposable content, and to what extent they are a true reflection of ourselves. Enjoy!” Back to top.


Katy Madgwick — “Dust Jackets”

Katy Madgwick is a private English tutor, baby swim teacher, and freelance writer, living in the northeast of England with two small humans, one larger one, and an unruly sprocker puppy called Skye. She holds an MA in Modern and Contemporary Literature, and has a background in blogging. “Dust Jackets” is her first published short story.

Katy Madgwick's story appears in PLEASURE TO BURN, the 2019 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451. The first line of the novel is "It was a pleasure to burn." The last line is "When we reach the city." What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Katy Madgwick imagined:

She says: “I began writing ‘Dust Jackets’ without knowing where the story was heading, but my enduring affection for post-apocalyptic literature combined with acute climate-change anxiety shaped the story as I wrote. It underwent a few structural alterations before I was happy with it, and only after submission did I realise the story also touches on my recurring preoccupation with isolationism versus community, a theme that emerges from almost everything I write — whether or not I intend it to.” Back to top.

5/5/22

Mel Kennard — “Attila the Hen”

Mel Kennard is a student from New South Wales, Australia. She graduated with a Bachelor of Languages from The Australian National University in 2015, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts through the University of New England. A natural polyglot, she speaks English, French, Italian, German, and a little bit of Spanish. She won the inaugural For Pity Sake Publishing writing competition in 2017, and participated in both previous Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competitions: her story “Kit and Nella” was included in One Thing Was Certain in 2018, and her story “Children of Summer” was an honorable mention in Pleasure to Burn in 2019. We’re excited to welcome her back with another excellent story.

Mel Kennard's story appears in 124 BELOVED, the 2020 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Toni Morrison's novel Beloved. The first line of the novel is "124 was spiteful." The last line is "Beloved." What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Mel Kennard imagined:

She says: “Most of the process for this story involved thinking up terrible names for chickens. These names were inspired by a friend whose family used to keep chickens with names such as Nugget, Vindaloo and, my personal favourite, Buffy the Egg Layer. In particular, I struggled to think of a name for the spiteful chicken. It was only after the story was written and I was almost ready to send it in with a nameless feathered protagonist that the perfect name finally occurred to me — Attila the Hen. I know nothing about chickens.” Back to top.


Nathan Baker — “The Last Directive”

Nathan Baker is a Software Developer living in Saint Anne’s on the Sea, in the UK. He has lived most of his life in the sunny North West of England, surrounded by the books, creatures, and people that he loves (although not necessarily in that order). When not writing or developing software, he enjoys reading, walking, and games of all kinds. “The Last Directive” is his first published short story.

Nathan Baker's story appears in 124 BELOVED, the 2020 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Toni Morrison's novel Beloved. The first line of the novel is "124 was spiteful." The last line is "Beloved." What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Nathan Baker imagined:

He says: “There was a lot going on while I was writing this story. The UK was still in lockdown and the events in Minneapolis in the US were being felt across the world. At the time, I didn’t think I was writing about either of those things, but in hindsight, it’s not hard to see both of them reflected in this story.” Back to top.

5/26/22

Steve Amos — “Thirty-four Stories”

Steve Amos is a training consultant living in Hastings, in the UK. He tells us that his first school report said “Stephen has a good imagination, and enjoys writing long, interesting stories which are a delight to the rest of the class.” So clearly not much has changed! His first book, Two Sides of an Indie Dad, is a mixture of fiction and autobiographical writing, published last year.

Steve Amos's story appears in 34 STORIES, the 2020 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World. The first line of the novel is "A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories." The last line is "South-west, south-south-west, south, south-east, east...." What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Steve Amos imagined:

He says: “As soon as I read the opening line, I had the idea of interpreting it literally, writing thirty-four interconnected stories all set within the same building. It seemed to fit with the world of Covid-19, and the way in which our lives have suddenly narrowed, and we’ve become increasingly confined to the buildings in which we live.” Back to top.


Anna Shannon — “The Tenant”

Anna Shannon is a writer in Calgary, Canada. As a child, she read every novel she could get her hands on — which turned out to be mostly Victorian gothics. This is one reason she’d recite Tennyson in her backyard against raging thunderstorms, or read Poe by candle-light to distract herself from the swaying of a high-rise during a typhoon. “The Tenant” is her first published short story.

Anna Shannon's story appears in 34 STORIES, the 2020 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World. The first line of the novel is "A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories." The last line is "South-west, south-south-west, south, south-east, east...." What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Anna Shannon imagined:

She says: “We are all made of bits blown apart and clumsily put back together, and life is never as it seems. Perhaps this is why I find literary taxidermy so enthralling. Years ago, while volunteering at a suicide call centre, someone told me about a suicide by a darkly clever man who selected an apartment for rent at the top of a high-rise. I’ve never been able to get that scenario out of my mind and, faced with the description of a ‘squat building,’ I thrilled at the chance to include it in this piece.” Back to top.

6/16/22

Erika Bauer — “A Dark and Final Space”

Erika Bauer is a teacher in Michigan, in the United States. She’s a closet 80’s rock karaoke super star, and if she could live anywhere, it would be in Castle Rock (even though it’s fictional). She owns four turtles that yawn like lions when no one is looking and aspires to write the way that Muhammad Ali boxed. “A Dark and Final Space” is her first published short story.

Erika Bauer's story appears in PLEASURE TO BURN, the 2019 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451. The first line of the novel is "It was a pleasure to burn." The last line is "When we reach the city." What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Erika Bauer imagined:

She says: “I knew from the first line that the story would be set in a bar, that the woman in the bar would be alone, and that everything in between should feel as close to Hemingway as I could channel. Getting to that final line, though, was difficult. I gave up more than once. I even tried to delete the bar itself! No go. Honestly, the story wrote itself.” Back to top.


Mariah Hopkins — “Waiting for the Great Fire”

Mariah Hopkins is a recent graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, in the United States. When not busy writing, she’s a transfer advisor at the Community College of Rhode Island, and an administrative assistant at the YMCA. Her next big adventure? Going to Minneapolis to pursue video game journalism. “Waiting for the Great Fire” is her first published short story, but her work will also appear in an upcoming issue of The Ocean State Review.

Mariah Hopkins's story appears in PLEASURE TO BURN, the 2019 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451. The first line of the novel is "It was a pleasure to burn." The last line is "When we reach the city." What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Mariah Hopkins imagined:

She says: “I’ve been researching and writing about Ancient Rome since I was twelve, and I enjoy the challenge of meeting writing prompts with historical moments. The words burn and city made me think of the Great Fire of Rome, but I didn’t want to perpetuate the myth of Nero fiddling while it burned. There are many theories as to why the troubled Nero might have set Rome ablaze. This is just one of them.” Back to top.

7/7/22

Samantha Johnson — “Serpent King”

Samantha Johnson is an administrative assistant from Alberta, Canada. She has a degree in Biochemistry and a diploma in Chemical Engineering Technology. Her submission to the Parker contest, “The Jellybean Bet,” received honorable mention. “Serpent King” is her first published story.

Samantha Johnson's story appears in ONE THING WAS CERTAIN, the 2018 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Lewis Carroll's novel Through the Looking-Glass. The first line of the novel is "One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it: — it was the black kitten’s fault entirely." The last line is “Which do you think it was?” What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Samantha Johnson imagined:

She says: “I wrote this story the day before the contest closed. Once I finally came up with an idea — a woman locked in a circular room — the story took only a few hours to write. My primary intent was to ensure neither the story nor the kittens were cute and cuddly.” Back to top.


Barbara Corrado Pope — “Indecision”

Barbara Corrado Pope is a retired professor from Oregon, in the United States. She has written three historical mysteries set in late-19th-century France, published by Pegasus Books in New York.

Barbara Corrado Pope's story appears in ONE THING WAS CERTAIN, the 2018 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Lewis Carroll's novel Through the Looking-Glass. The first line of the novel is "One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it: — it was the black kitten’s fault entirely." The last line is “Which do you think it was?” What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Barbara Corrado Pope imagined:

She says: “Since I’ve written mysteries, I tried the Hammett lines first. But I couldn’t connect my ‘girl,’ escaping from thugs or proto-fascists, to something that would be merely ‘pretty unsatisfactory.’ Once I turned to Carroll’s cats, however, the writing came easy, start to finish. Haven’t we all had dearly-beloved friends who drive us crazy with their indecision? All I had to do, then, was to exaggerate a little and have fun.” Back to top.


Jenny Hanson — “May 8th, 2025”

Jenny Hanson is a teacher from Canberra, Australia. “May 8th, 2025” is her first published story, and the winner of the 2018 Carroll contest. We loved the story’s playful format, its narrative indirection, and its casual world-building; and we thought the use of Carroll’s first and last lines was both clever and adept. It was a thrill to read and a pleasure to award.

Jenny Hanson's story appears in ONE THING WAS CERTAIN, the 2018 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Lewis Carroll's novel Through the Looking-Glass. The first line of the novel is "One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it: — it was the black kitten’s fault entirely." The last line is “Which do you think it was?” What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Jenny Hanson imagined:

She says: “My sister told me about the competition with only a short time to spare, and after a horrible attempt at the Hammett lines I went back to the drawing board. With some thought, I realised that the Carroll lines pinged me as the sort of thing that teachers set as assignments, and the idea of a ‘reading pack’ came together. I love epistolary stories, and how they can spread a lot of world into comparatively few words. That’s what I was aiming for; I didn’t want the answer to be too simple. I hope, in the end, it wasn’t.” Back to top.

7/28/22

Sam Szanto — “125”

Sam Szanto is writer, editor, and tutor living in Twickenham, in the UK. She has a husband, two young children, and a neurotic tabby cat; and in her spare time she is learning Spanish and Hungarian, while also mastering the Tarot. Both her poetry and short fiction has been published online and in print. She was the winner of the 2020 Charroux Prize for Poetry, won second prize in the Hammond House International Poetry Competition in 2019, and is presently shortlisted for the Grist Poetry Prize. In 2019, she placed second in the Doris Gooderson Short Story Competition.

Sam Szanto's story appears in 124 BELOVED, the 2020 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Toni Morrison's novel Beloved. The first line of the novel is "124 was spiteful." The last line is "Beloved." What story would you write between those lines? Here's what Sam Szanto imagined:

She says: “This story was written during the spring of the Covid-19 lockdown, an unexpectedly creative time for me! I have one room downstairs, and I would write at the dining room table while my young kids watched post-lunch films a few feet away. The story was born from an article I’d read about teenage female sex slaves in Bangladesh, which made me realise that however difficult life seemed to me at that time, other people live in almost unbelievable conditions all the time. Most things I write are about women who encounter difficulties, or live on the margins, the voiceless and the dispossessed...women like Shabrina.” Back to top.


David Kerekes — “The Missing Husband”

David Kerekes is a book publisher living in Oxford, in the UK. An early episode of the TV detective series Inspector Morse made him think that Oxford was a nice place to be, and years later he is fortunate enough to find himself living there. David recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes University, passing with distinction. He is a co-founder of Headpress, an independent book publisher, and has written extensively on popular culture. His short novel, Mezzogiorno, is a meditation on family, life, and Southern Italy.

David Kerekes's story appears in 124 BELOVED, the 2020 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by Toni Morrison's novel Beloved. The first line of the novel is "124 was spiteful." The last line is "Beloved." What story would you write between those lines? Here's what David Kerekes imagined:

He says: “My story was inspired by Nicolai Astrup’s painting ‘By the Open Door’ (1902-1911), which shows two young women looking out of a door at a path that leads to what may or may not be a meadow. There is a timeless quality to the image — the picture itself a moment in time — and a sense of inevitability about it, factors that I funneled into my story. The nationality of the artist himself inspired the story’s setting and led me to the character of Farstad.” Back to top.

8/18/22

Paula Aamli — “To My Executors”

Paula Aamli is writer, editor, and tutor living in Twickenham, in the UK. She has a husband, two young children, and a neurotic tabby cat; and in her spare time she is learning Spanish and Hungarian, while also mastering the Tarot. Both her poetry and short fiction has been published online and in print. She was the winner of the 2020 Charroux Prize for Poetry, won second prize in the Hammond House International Poetry Competition in 2019, and is presently shortlisted for the Grist Poetry Prize. In 2019, she placed second in the Doris Gooderson Short Story Competition.

Paula Aamli's poem appears in THE ART OF DEATH, the 2021 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by two works by modernist writer Katherine Mansfield — the poem "The Black Monkey" and the short story "Je ne parle pas français." Here's what Paula Aamli imagined between the first and last lines of Mansfield's work:

She says: “This story was written during the spring of the Covid-19 lockdown, an unexpectedly creative time for me! I have one room downstairs, and I would write at the dining room table while my young kids watched post-lunch films a few feet away. The story was born from an article I’d read about teenage female sex slaves in Bangladesh, which made me realise that however difficult life seemed to me at that time, other people live in almost unbelievable conditions all the time. Most things I write are about women who encounter difficulties, or live on the margins, the voiceless and the dispossessed...women like Shabrina.” Back to top.


Erika Bauer — “If Only She Could Have Been Good”

Erika Bauer is a teacher/professor, living in Michigan, USA. She is a diehard fan of Twin Peaks. She thinks Rod Serling’s voice from The Twilight Zone is heaven. And she will always be grateful for Stephen King keeping her company in the dark when she feels alone. She is the only literary taxidermy writer who has been published in the competition three years in a row, and she was the winner of the competition in 2020 with her short story “You Know, He Knew, I Said,” based on the first and last lines from Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

Erika Bauer's story appears in THE ART OF DEATH, the 2021 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by two works by modernist writer Katherine Mansfield — the poem "The Black Monkey" and the short story "Je ne parle pas français." Here's what Erika Bauer imagined between the first and last lines of Mansfield's work:

She says: “My father died in 2020. He was wild and charismatic and brilliant. He was also an alcoholic and a liar and a thief. When I was a little girl, he used to let me sit on his shoulders while we walked through Disney World and ride ponies and stay up late on school nights watching crime dramas and eating pretzels. He would also steal my identity and run off with bad women and threaten suicide when it suited him. He could have been so, so good. And he was. Sometimes. Like Layla, he was my Babbles. And he would have liked this story.” Back to top.


Carol Josephine Dixon — “Wedding Day”

Carol Josephine Dixon is a seamstress, living in Upper Hutt, New Zealand. As soon as she realized fantasy fiction frequently includes a great war, she decided to study military history at university. She holds three degrees: a BA in English and History, a Bachelor of Defence Studies, and a Master of Arts in Defence and Strategic Studies. Her first publication was a short story in her high school yearbook, and she received honorable mention in 2020’s literary taxidermy anthology, 34 Stories, based on the first and last lines from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Carol Josephine Dixon's story appears in THE ART OF DEATH, the 2021 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by two works by modernist writer Katherine Mansfield — the poem "The Black Monkey" and the short story "Je ne parle pas français." Here's what Carol Josephine Dixon imagined between the first and last lines of Mansfield's work:

She says: “I had one slice of pizza too many before bed one night and dreamed of a bride having the courage to say ‘no,’ regardless of the enormous social pressure. This year’s competition gave me the perfect opening and closing lines to encapsulate the idea. The closing line in particular suggested alien influence, and allowed me to develop the theme that social constructs enslave men just as much as women.” Back to top.

9/8/22

Hilari Anderson — “MIQ Haiku / In Quarantine with KM”

Hilari Anderson is a semi-retired drama teacher, living in Auckland, New Zealand. She has lived and travelled extensively, from Canada to Crete. While living in London, she became the Minister of Cultural Affairs for the Free Independent Republic of Frestonia a squatting community which declared itself independent from Britain. She was the first cook on the Rainbow Warrior and later volunteered in the Paris Greenpeace office. Her play, “Boomer Barbie,” was due to be performed this past year in Auckland; however, Covid put a stop to that. “MIQ Haiku / In Quarantine with KM” is her first published poem.

Hilari Anderson's poem appears in THE ART OF DEATH, the 2021 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by two works by modernist writer Katherine Mansfield — the poem "The Black Monkey" and the short story "Je ne parle pas français." Here's what Hilari Anderson imagined between the first and last lines of Mansfield's work:

She says: “When I realized the first line of ‘Je ne parle pas français’ could be a haiku, I decided to create a poem for the competition. I asked friends in MIQ — Managed Isolation and Quarantine — to describe their experience to establish how many Mansfield stories I could reference in a parallel structure. The haiku form suits the mundane MIQ experience, but Katherine Mansfield’s sentences are more complex, which was an exciting challenge.” Back to top.


Liz Breslin — “Afterwards They Built Bigger Fences”

Liz Breslin is a writer, living in Ōtepoti Dunedin, New Zealand. She writes poems, plays, stories, reviews, articles and a fortnightly column called Thinking Allowed for the Otago Daily Times. Her first poetry collection, Alzheimer’s and a spoon, was published by Otago University Press in 2017. Her second collection, In bed with the feminists, was published by Dead Bird Books in 2021.

Liz Breslin's poem appears in THE ART OF DEATH, the 2021 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by two works by modernist writer Katherine Mansfield — the poem "The Black Monkey" and the short story "Je ne parle pas français." Here's what Liz Breslin imagined between the first and last lines of Mansfield's work:

She says: “I spent a long time thinking about who Babbles might be and the poem wasn’t working — just five pages of penciled words and wave-form scribbles. Then I switched to thinking about the carrying part of keeping monkeys on your back. Plinyetta the Elder showed up pretty soon after that, and then the poem.” Back to top.

9/29/22

Shara Sinor — “The Seedy Café”

Shara Sinor is a daydreamer, living in Colorado, USA. She tells us she gets her best flashes of creative inspiration just before she steps into the shower — which is particularly non-conducive to note-taking. She has had narrative and creative nonfiction essays published in Narratively, Burrow Press Review, and Cutbank, but this is the only poem she’s ever written. [And it’s a great start, if we say so ourselves!] She received honorable mention in 2020’s literary taxidermy anthology, 124 Beloved, based on the first and last lines from Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

Shara Sinor's poem appears in THE ART OF DEATH, the 2021 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by two works by modernist writer Katherine Mansfield — the poem "The Black Monkey" and the short story "Je ne parle pas français." Here's what Shara Sinor imagined between the first and last lines of Mansfield's work:

She says: “I don't write poetry, but I'm familiar with haiku. When I read the opening line of the Mansfield story, I saw immediately that it fit a 5-7-5 meter. Upon reading the closing line, a picture popped into my head of a miniature forest café with lady-bug seats. I decided to play with the idea of haiku and discovered that there was a haiku form with a little more latitude — the 5-7-5-7-7 tanka, which became the perfect platform for exploring and expanding my forest vision.” Back to top.


Emma Lamont-Messer — “Daleko Tea”

Emma Lamont-Messer is a prison volunteer and former lawyer, living in Auckland, New Zealand. She writes essays, short stories, and screenplays — and of course there’s always a poem or two bubbling away. She loves nonsense verse, riddles, and absurdist art of all kinds. “Daleko Tea,” the winning poem in the 2021 Literary Taxidermy Writing Competition, is her first published poem. It’s an unsettling report from a café that seems unable to shake off its dark past, and it imbues Mansfield’s lines with an unexpected creepiness. We love the poem’s precise language, and the way it pulls you into its world. It was a joy to read and a pleasure to award.

Emma Lamont-Messer's poem appears in THE ART OF DEATH, the 2021 anthology of literary taxidermy inspired by two works by modernist writer Katherine Mansfield — the poem "The Black Monkey" and the short story "Je ne parle pas français." Here's what Emma Lamont-Messer imagined between the first and last lines of Mansfield's work:

She says: “A lot went into the writing of this poem: packing up to move; lockdown; watching John Waters interviews; spring weather; reading Nudibranch by Irenosen Okojie; the movie Trash Humpers; Iggy Pop’s radio show; and a short story I was writing about a woman who turns into a cat.” Back to top.