John Holland writes.

Short fiction writer, events organiser and obsessive



You know what they say - if you want to get a hat get a website. So thank you for looking at all this self-aggrandising stuff. Personally, I enjoy reading it over and over again (it beats writing), but  it's also possible that I have an as yet undiagnosed condition.

Here goes.

I am a writer of short fiction based in Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK. My stories are often dark, funny and mordant.  But not always.

This is how author and events organiser Debbie Young recently described my writing, "John writes flash fiction and short stories that are very wide-ranging, often departing from the real world and often quite bonkers, but in a way that heightens understanding of real emotions and situations."


I have been writing short stories and flash fiction since 2011, and began entering competitions and seeking publication before the end of 2012.

Since 2013 about 50 (who's counting? Me, apparently) of my short stories and flash fiction have been published online, in magazines and in anthologies - including in The Best Stories in a Decade published by Momaya Press in 2013.  

I  have won, been runner up, shortlisted etc in over 30 competitions, including First Prizes in the £1,000 2016 Inktears Short Story Contest,  2015 Worcestershire Literary Festival Flash Fiction competition, and the 2014 Annual Momaya Press Short Story Competition

See Award-winning Stories for more information

There's a June 2015 interview with me on The Short Story website

I am a member of Stroud Writers' Circle.

In a past life I was a librarian and a library campaigner, and a regular contributor to Punch (Sideswipes), BBC Radio 4 Comedy (Weekending) and BBC Radio 2 Comedy (The News Huddlines) in the 80s and early 90s. I also wrote for obscure and unpopular TV comedy shows which fortunately I can no longer recall.


In 2013 and 2015 I read or my stories were read at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, in 2012 at Stroud Short Stories and at The Book - A Celebration and in 2015 at A Feast of Stories in Cheltenham, the National Flash Fiction Day celebration in Foyles in Bristol, at the Hawkesbury Upton LitFest, and at 'Short Stories for Grown-Ups' upstairs at No.23 Bar & Bistro in Stroud. 

See Events for more information. 

In 2014 I became the organiser of Stroud Short Stories. SSS is a twice-yearly non-profit making community event held in the spring and autumn of each year at the SVA (Stroud Valleys Artspace), John Street, Stroud. The aim is to showcase and promote local writing talent and provide  a stimulating and varied evening's entertainment. SSS has a simple format. Local writers submit their stories. We choose ten. The authors read them to a packed audience. We held a special 5th birthday event last year at  the prestigious Cheltenham Literature Festival. Our last was in May 2017 back at the SVA. And our next - our fifteenth - will be on 5 November 2017.  Submissions open in August 2017.

Read more about Stroud Short Stories on this website in Events. And on SSS' own website


2015 was a good year

In 2015 my story 'Sensitive' won the Worcestershire Literary Festival Flash Fiction award.  'True' was short listed for the 2015 Yeovil Literary Prize -  top 18 from "well over a thousand entries", and also given a Special Mention in the Hull and Back Short Story Competition.  'Lips' was long listed for the Bath Short Story Award - and included in the 2015 Bath Short Story Award Anthology 2015.

Here I am on video reading some of it a the BSSA Anthology launch.

'Strange Fruit - an Imagining' was runner up in the Gloucestershire Writers' Network short story competition and read by the actor Moses Hardwick in Cheltenham Town Hall as part of the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

Watch/listen here.

My story 'Fanciful', read by actress/author Angela Wren, was broadcast on the radio for National Short Story Week - in Doncaster.

Moustache (dedicated to Larry Cotterell) was a runner-up in a Earlyworks Press flash fiction competition.  'The Shore Line' was selected by Flash Fiction Journal for publication online. The Uncanny Valley was published in the Stroud Short Stories 2011-15 anthology.

'Friends' and 'The Note' were published online on the National Flash Fiction Day Flash Flood Journal .Four short pieces I read at the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival in April were published in an anthology . Three stories including the First Prize winning 'Sensitive' were published in the Worcestershire Lit Fest 2015 Flash Fiction Competition Anthology.

Still in 2015, I had two award-winning stories (Morning Tea and The Open Door) re-published on the new Writing Short Fiction website, together with an article on endings in short fiction.

2015 Readings -   I read at A Feast of Stories at the  Bacon Theatre in Cheltenham, and at the first Hawkesbury Upton LitFest. in South Gloucestershire.

For National Flash Fiction Day I read at Foyle's in Bristol. And in August at the sold-out 'Short Stories for Grown-Ups' with Philip Douch at No.23 Bistro & Bar, Nelson Street, Stroud.

As mentioned above, the actor Moses Hardwick read my story 'Strange Fruit - An Imagining' at the 2015 Cheltenham Literature Festival.

I also read part of my story 'Lips' at the launch of the Bath Short Story Award Anthology 2015, and my winning story 'Sensitive' at the launch of 'A Stash of Flashes' - the Worcs Lit Fest 2015 Flash Fiction Competition Anthology.

There's a June 2015 interview with me on The Short Story website


I expect that 2016 will be much quieter...

... because I will be writing more and entering fewer competitions.

Although I was invited to judge the 2016 Evesham Festival of Words Short Story Competition which closed on 31 March 2016.

And I have had my tiny story 'Three Legs' published by the US website 101Words (January 2106).

And I was invited to read my story 'True' at the Bristol Unchained Writers' St Valentine's Day Hangover event on Sunday 21 February 2016.

My short story 'Da' was short listed for the 2016 Chipping Norton LitFest Short Story Competition. There were 265 submissions. 

Four of my flash fictions were published in March 2016 in the anthology 'The Ball of the Future'.  

In April 2016 the actor Olly Langdon read my little story 'Da' at Story Friday, a short story evening run by A Word in Your Ear, at Burdall's Yard, Bath. Listen here to Oliver reading 'Orly' before alive audience at Story Friday.

I also read my story 'The Fish It Was That Died' at the Stokes Croft Writers event 'Talking Tales' in April at the Southbank Centre in  Bristol.

And read 'The Note' and 'Easily Embarrassed' at the Hawkesbury Upton LitFest in April

I also read 'Sunday Morning' at Bristol's Stokes Crofts Writers event 'More Banksy than Bonnets' at Burdall's Yard as past of the Bath Festival Fringe in June. The same story has now been published in A Box of Stars Under The Bed -the 2016 National Flash Fiction Day Anthology - in print and ebook formats.

In June, National Flash Fiction Day,  my dark little story 'Christmas' was published online on the NFFD Flash Flood Journal. 'The Note' was short listed by Australian publisher Raging Aardvark for its 2016 Twisted Tales Anthology and will be published in an Anthology later this year. 'The White Board' was also short listed for 'The Short Story' Website Flash Fiction Competition. As was 'Skin' in a later competition.

'The Night Ape' was short listed for the 2016 'To Hull and Back' short story competition, and is in the 2016 anthology. I read it at the launch at Stoke Crofts Writers Talking Tales event in December in Bristol.

Both 'The Crow' and 'The Coat' were chosen to be included in the 2016 Worcs LitFest Flash Fiction anthology 'A Cache of Flashes'. 'Dear Sis' was short listed for the 2016 Chorley & District Writers' Circle short story comp.

I read 'Lips' at The Speakeasy event in Bath in July - my first reading at this relatively new short story venue/event. And my story 'Da' was read by my friend and fellow writer Natalie Lee in August 2016 at the Stokes Croft Writers' Talking Tales event in Bristol. I also read 'Da', 'Christmas' and 'The Hero' at an event in Stroud in September. 'Da' was short listed in The Short Story website competition. And 'That Summer' and 'Easily Embarrassed' in the 2016 Earlyworks Press flash fiction competition.

'The River' was long listed for the 2016 Inktears Flash Fiction (500 words) competition. 'The Hero' was read by Jon Kelly and broadcst for National Short Story Week 2016. Listen to it here.

Flash piece 'Time We Moved On' was published on the US website 101 Words in December. And finally, The River was short listed in The Short Story website flash 500 competition winter 2016.


2017 has brought a short listing for 101Words monthly contest with Time We Moved On.

I March I won the £1,000 First Prize in the 2016 Inktears Short Story Contest with my story 'Da'.

In March I also read 'Door Step' at the Unchained Writers 'Another Country' Evening of Short Stories. And in April 'The Valley' was long listed in the inaugural Reflex Fiction flash fiction contest - and will be published before the end of June 2017.

In April/May I read 'Da' for Resound Radio,  'Orly' for Corinium Radio, 'The Discovery' at Stokes Croft Writers Talking Tales and 'Sensitive, 'Rats' and 'You were in need of Money' at the Hawkesbury Upton LitFest.

In May I read 'A Hot Summer's Day', 'Sensitive', 'Sunday Morning', 'Christmas' and 'In Those Days'  at the Bath Flash Fiction Evening in the St James Wine vaults in Bath.  'The Valley' was shortlisted and published online by Reflex Fiction. 'That Sunmmer' and 'Easily Embarrassed' were published in the Apples, Shadows and Light Anthology by the Earlyworks Press. 'Belinda's Diets' was short listed in the National Flash Fiction Day New Zealand Micro Madness competition - and published online.

In June 'The Note' was published in Raging Aardvark's Twisted Tales. I read 'A Visit From the Vampires' at 'More Banksy Than Bonnets' at the Bath Fringe event at Burdall's Yard in Bath.



I hope that you can find what you want on my website. If not please let me know - my details are on the Contact page.

Enough already. I'm tired and want to lie down. You too?