Short Story Judge 2018-19

Michelle Bailat-Jones is a writer and translator. She is the author of two novels, Unfurled (Oct 2018) and Fog Island Mountains (2014), winner of the Center for Fiction’s 2013 Christopher Doheny Prize.

Michelle-Bailat-Jones, Short Story Judge
Michelle-Bailat-Jones, Short Story Judge

Her translations include two novels by celebrated Swiss modernist Charles Ferdinand Ramuz: Beauty on Earth (Skomlin, 2013) and What if the Sun…? (Skomlin, 2016) along with shorter work by Julia Allard Daudet, Claude Cahun, Laure Mi-Hyun Croset, Timba Bema, Alexandre Correa, and Céline Cerny.

Her fiction, translations, poetry, and criticism have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Rumpus, Necessary Fiction, The Quarterly Conversation, Cerise Press, Two Serious Ladies and PANK.

She has an MFA from Emerson College, and works as a freelance writer, translator, and manuscript consultant. She is the Translations Editor for the webjournal Necessary Fiction, and a four-time judge for the Christopher Doheny Award at The Center for Fiction.

Michelle was born in Japan, grew up in the Pacific Northwest of the US, and now lives in Switzerland.


Theme for the competition

2018-2019 Short Story Judge Michelle Bailat-Jones chose the theme: Place

“Place can be a country, can be a neighborhood or a school. Place can be a city, either real or imagined. Place can be a sofa or a car or a dining room table. Place can be a memory, can be an invention, can be an idea. Place can be a forest, a mountain, an ocean. Place can be the top of a building, can be an underground tunnel. What’s important to remember is that the details of your “place” reveal and contain the emotions of your story.”
What Michelle Bailat-Jones was looking for in a short story:

“For the short story and narrative non-fiction  in general, I am looking for a bit of fire, a spark of something special. With only 1000 words, the piece needs to grab the reader right away in its opening lines and then surprise or wow the reader by the end.

In terms of the theme of PLACE, I am looking specifically to be carried away into a new world, to somewhere exciting and unfamiliar, to a place I’ve never been—and this stands whether you’re writing about a Swiss home or city or village, or a faraway land or time that you’ve invented with your awesome brain and creative inspiration.

If this place is where you’re putting YOUR heart, then your story or essay will invite me to leave MY heart there, too. I want to laugh or cry, or even rage alongside you.

I am not looking for flawless English but a sense of skilled storytelling or narration, a dedication to detail and internal story logic, and a focus on setting to convey emotion.”