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Hysteria Readers 2023

The Hysteria Writing Competition couldn’t take place each year without the help of my wonderful volunteer writing competition readers. You can find out more about this year’s team below. Each reader reviews all the entries in their category. This gives them the opportunity to really see what makes a good entry.

As you know fashions and tastes change and the unique review form allows the teams to be as unbiased as possible when it comes to the individual entries. Your entry will be judged against the same set of criteria as every other entry. All the readers try not to judge each piece against any other.

The things readers are looking out for include whether they’d recommend it to a friend, how unique the entry was and whether it meets this year’s theme. Of course, they are looking at a few other things too but I wouldn’t want to give all the secrets away!

I don’t ask readers to be expert writers either although there are a fair few each year. I’m also looking for passionate readers; those who read anything and everything and who can spot a good story or poem quickly and easily.

The reading team is always chosen from a bunch of people who all volunteer their time and experience and I hope you’ll make them all welcome.

If you think you’d like to be a reader in next year’s competition just add yourself to the mailing list and I’ll be in touch in February or March next year.

Meet the readers


Flash Fiction Category

Rachel Angel

Rachel Angel lives in North Wales with her husband. She has always loved writing short stories for her own enjoyment and reading novels and short stories that tug at the heartstrings or leave a lasting impression. Rachel is currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing with the Open University. Rachel enjoyed being a reader for the short story section of last year’s Hysteria competition and is really looking forward to reading the flash fiction entries this year.

Steven Patchett

Steven Patchett is an Engineer, Husband, Father and Writer living in the wilds of Northumberland. Comfortable with writing both literary and genre fiction, Steven has pieces in Ellipsis Zine and Molotov Cocktail, amongst others. He has a forthcoming piece in the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology for 2023, and is currently working on a novella. Which he’ll finish this time, honest!

Sharon Boyle lives in East Lothian and writes around her family and part-time job. Her short stories and flash pieces have been published on-line and in magazines, including Retreat West, Fictive Dream, Writers’ Forum, Bath Flash Fiction Anthology and Ellipsis Zine. She likes eating fried-egg rolls and to coorie in bed with a new book. She dislikes driving and the fact that Sharons are becoming an extinct species. She tweets at @SharonBoyle50.

heather cook

Heather Cook is enjoying her retirement after many years in the Civil Service and Social Services. She has always loved writing poetry, most of which has never seen the light of day. Recently, however, Heather has been shortlisted and commended in several competitions, including Ware, King Lear, Wildfire Words and Shepton Snowdrop Festival. She was particularly delighted to be the winner of the Hysteria 2022 poetry category. Heather’s other interests include the environment and animals, with a particular passion for cats. This has inspired her to regularly contribute articles for the Cats Protection magazine, The Cat, and to publish several lighthearted cat books.

Keely O'Shaunessy

Keely O’Shaugnessy is a writer with cerebral palsy, who lives in Gloucestershire, UK. Her short fiction has been published both online and in anthologies. Her stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best Small Fictions as well as the Wigleaf Top 50. Her micro-chapbook, The Swell of Seafoam, was published as part of Ghost City Press’ Summer Series 2022 and her debut collection, Baby is a Thing Best Whispered was published with Alien Buddha Press, August 2022. She is Managing Editor at Flash Fiction Magazine. Find out more about her via her Linktree page.

sally curtis

Sally Curtis lives in Dorset not far from the sea and is a teacher, hypnotherapist and would-be novelist. She began writing short stories as a way into writing a novel before discovering flash fiction, which has somewhat taken over. Now she spends her time juggling work with her love of reading, writing and getting out and about. She has pieces on Retreat West, Reflex Fiction, Crazy Cats Theatre, Fiction Factory and Globe Soup sites. She won the Retreat West Micro-fiction prize and Writing Magazine’s flash competition and has been placed in other flash and micro competitions. Some of these have been published in anthologies with two more due out next year, as well as a full-length story published by Michael Terrance Publishers in their anthology. She enjoys the challenge flash fiction presents to create a complete story with rounded characters that satisfy the reader yet leaves them asking questions and wanting more.

Poetry Category

Diane Jackman

Diane Jackman’s poetry has appeared in small press magazines and anthologies and has won or placed in several competitions. Starting as a published children’s writer she now concentrates on poetry. And her first collection Lessons from the Orchard is due out this summer from Sacred Eagle Publishing Ltd. She is passionately interested in medieval rabbit warrens and Anglo-Saxon literature. She has now led poetry workshops and also runs a poetry café in Brandon in the heart of Breckland, England’s desert.

Yvonne James works as a director at an educational consultancy company. Despite always having a love of the emotional journey poetry can evoke, she discovered during her English and Creative Writing degree in particular, that she genuinely enjoyed the near therapeutic qualities of writing poetry. Since then, she has been published in anthologies including Hysteria 8 and zines, such as Snakeskin Poetry. She sends very best wishes to the 2023 entrants and is genuinely looking forward to the privilege of reading your entered creations!

Abigail Ottley
Abigail Elizabeth Ottley is a former teacher of Englishwrites poetry and short fiction from her home in Penzance in Cornwall. Since 2012, her work has appeared in more than two hundred and fifty journals and anthologies. In 2021, she was  shortlisted for both the Cinnamon and Three Trees pamphlet awards with a similar listing by Nine Pens the following year. She was a contributor to Invisible Borders and, more recently, to three more anthologies all published in 2022. Abigail is currently working on a collection of poems exploring the lives and experiences of medieval women.
Amberleigh Park

Amberleigh Park lives in Edinburgh, Scotland and has recently become the proud owner of an ancient treasure chest, now retired from its swashbuckling adventure days to host a large shoe collection. She is obsessed with Lewis Carroll, Dickens, and Orwell, and has an immense interest in all thing’s mythological and fairy-tale. An avid reader, she loves stories and poetic pieces that differ from the mainstream. Compositions that stand out for their unique qualities and voice; creations that bring alternative viewpoints and can spark excitement and wonder. All things curiouser and curiouser. She is very excited to read the 2023 Poetry entries for what is her favourite theme: magic.

adele evershed

Adele Evershed was born in Wales and has lived in Hong Kong and Singapore before settling in Wilton, Connecticut. Adele writes overlooking a wildlife sanctuary, which has inspired her to write a large number of haiku and drink a vast amount of tea. Adele’s prose and poetry have been published in over a hundred online journals and print anthologies. She won the ‘English Language Poem Award’ at the North American Festival of Wales Eisteddfod this year and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net for poetry. Her chapbook, Turbulence in Small Places will be published this year. Find her on Twitter @AdLibby1

Short Story Category

alice penfold

Alice Penfold works in education and is an avid reader and writer. She currently works as an English Curriculum Lead for a group of schools and is also completing a PhD in Children’s Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London, focused on young adult fantasy fiction. She is finishing her first middle grade novel and has short stories and flash fiction published in various anthologies and online.

Daisy Blacklock

Daisy Blacklock is a book reviewer and writer of fiction and poetry. She was a commended Foyle Young Poet Of The Year in 2022 and is a part of the Polaris Trilogy anthology which is going to the moon in 2024 as well as being published in other magazines and placing or winning a handful of competitions. Previously, she also used to run Your Fire Magazine.

kate franklin

Kate Franklin is 64 years young, born in the potteries and now living in Devon with her husband and cocker spaniel Toby. She has two grown-up children and twin grandchildren. She is an avid reader, who loves to read non-fiction and chic lit as a form of escapism, she is a true romantic! She also loves good autobiographies and is a fan of Peaky Blinders. Kate started writing her memoirs and a non-fiction book whilst recuperating from a hysterectomy back in 2017, both of which are still in progress. She loves holidays and keeps a diary about her most excellent adventures.

Richard Teague

Richard Teague made a decision in 1987 that defined the next three decades when he entered Monash Medical School in Melbourne. Sometimes he wonders what might have been, had he pursued a writing career. He didn’t return to writing until his late 40’s when a colleague asked to read one of his short stories. It’s amazing what a little praise can do for the soul. He is still excited by short stories after all, where else can you experience intrigue, passion, crazy characters, horror, love, and death within 20 pages? That’s why he can’t wait to read this year’s entries to the Hysteria Writing Competition.

gillian scholey

Gillian Scholey is from West Cumbria on the fringes of The Lake District. She writes short stories, poetry, flash fiction, and plays, and is currently also writing her first novel! Her scripts have been performed by Theatre by the Lake ‘Elders’, ‘Fit’n’Active’ Theatre Group, and Knock and Nash Productions. Her writing has appeared in Vision Poetry Anthology, Myslexia, and Hysteria 7. Gillian now divides her time between volunteering/acting in four local theatres (Pre Covid and with hopes for the future!), writing, and persuading her husband that they really do need a Westie puppy. She may need to pen a best seller to finance the latter!

malina douglas

Malina Douglas weaves stories that fuse the fantastic and the real. She was awarded Editor’s Choice in the Hammond House International Literary Prize and was a finalist in the Four Palaces Fiction Anthology Contest. She has numerous stories published and curates/edits the Winter Enchantment anthology. She especially enjoys stories that are lyrical, magical and hopeful, with elements of folklore, a strong voice and unique perspectives. She lives in Antalya, Turkey and can be found @iridescentwords.

sally anderson

Sally Anderson lives on the D’Entrecasteaux Channel in southern Tasmania and has just retired from nursing so now has time to start the ‘To Do’ list. Her first job will be outwitting the possum who raids her Silverbeet most nights. Short stories, personal essays and creative non-fiction are her prefered reading and writing, but she always has a psychological thriller on the go too. She has won short story competitions, had a memoir accepted for radio and an essay published in ‘The Australian’ newspaper. This year she begins a Creative Writing Diploma with UTAS, so reading for Hysteria now is timely – a real privilege to share different approaches to writing. All the best to those clever people crafting submissions.

Pat Good

Pat Good lives in Glasgow with her husband. She recently retired as a School Support Assistant and is using her extra free time to work on
short stories and flash fiction. Her work has been published in Womags and writing magazines. Pat has previously been a reader for the flash fiction and short story categories of the Hysteria competition and is looking forward to reading this year’s entries.

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