Perseverance pays off for Master of Arts student
It was four times the charm for a local writer.
Kelowna’s Brittni MacKenzie-Dale is the winner of this year’s Okanagan Short Story Contest. Organized and partially-sponsored by UBC Okanagan, the contest is an annual writing competition open to fiction writers in British Columbia’s Southern Interior.
MacKenzie-Dale is a current UBC Okanagan Master of Arts (MA) student. Her story entitled, “They Called Him Luke” landed her in first place in the 20th running of the annual contest. It wasn’t her first time as a finalist in the contest. In 2016, MacKenzie-Dale placed third—and had a second entry short-listed—and in 2015 she had two stories shortlisted.
Second place this year with her story, “Blood Sport” is Lake Country’s Victoria Alvarez, a UBC Okanagan MA student. Third place went to Samantha Macpherson of Lake Country with her story, “Do I Dare to Eat a Peach.”
Contest judge and Thompson Rivers University Associate Professor Karen Hofmann—who won this contest last year—announced each of the winners at a special event at the Okanagan Regional Library in Kelowna on Monday, which featured readings from the top winners. More than 100 entries were submitted and once they were shortlisted, Hofmann was given about a dozen anonymous entries to whittle down the winner’s list.
New for 2018 was a high school category, with Bethany Pardoe of Nelson’s LV Rogers Secondary School winning top honour with her story, “Sunlight.” Runners-up (in alphabetical order) are Finn Tobin of Mount Boucherie Secondary School, with “Red Racer 2000,” and Anna Vajda of Heritage Christian Online School, with “Transylvanian Vacation.”
Contest organizer and UBC Associate Professor Michael V. Smith joked that the contest is actually older than some of the winners.
“This is a banner event for Okanagan writers and was another great success,” says Smith. “Being able to celebrate 20 years of prize money for Okanagan stories is an exciting marker.”
This year, the Okanagan Short Story Contest had $2,000 in prize money to present. Smith thanked the contest funders and sponsors: the Central Okanagan Foundation, the Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation, the Kelowna Capital News and subTerrain magazine.
Along with $1,000 in prize money, MacKenzie-Dale’s winning entry will be published in subTerrain magazine this fall.