Meet the Winner!
Michael Caleb Tasker
“Holy smokes!” says Tasker on learning “Mount to the Sky” took first place in the 2019 Great American Fiction Contest, winning publication in the Post and online and a prize of $500. “As a longtime Fitzgerald nut, mostly for his short stories, I have long been familiar with and fond of the Post, for both newer fiction and classics,” says Tasker. “It’s kind of crazy to be joining the ranks.”
The author’s love of Christmas and nostalgia figure prominently in the setting and theme of “Mount to the Sky.” “The title is a line from ‘The Night Before Christmas’ that I read every year to my 6-year-old daughter.” In Tasker’s story of longing and loss, a man watches his 15-year-old neighbor approach a breaking point and disappear — like, the author says, the “dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly.”
He came up with the story idea after watching a teenage girl with what he assumed was her second family. “Two parents and two young brothers, and not one of them looked even a little like her,” he says. “I got the feeling she wanted to tear herself away from them and go as far away as she could.” But with the idea, the author adds, “I just wanted to tell a good story that I and readers wanted to enjoy.”
“My stories and my writing can be a little old fashioned sometimes,” he says, adding that like the story’s main characters, “a big part of me wants to try to keep things I miss, things that seem to be fading away, around a little longer.”
He began his higher education at the University of New Orleans, studying classical piano, but graduated with a degree in English and writing, and he is currently working on his Ph.D. in creative writing. Winner of the 2014 Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Award, Tasker has published his work in many literary journals, and also Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, but “Mount to the Sky” is his first story published in a national consumer magazine.
For more, visit michaelcalebtasker.com.
Meet the Runners-Up!
Each runner-up receives $100 and publication of his or her work on our website. We salute these fine writers and the more than 150 others who entered our 2019 contest.
Title: “Charlotte’s Mother” [Coming January 4]
Storyline: When her mom walks out of the nursing home, Charlotte heads to the only place she might have gone.
Bio: First short story published by a national consumer magazine; author of two novels; stories published in literary magazines and anthologies. For more, visit jeffrey-ricker.com.
Title: “Fishing for Owls” [Coming January 11]
Storyline: Jace lives to fish and fishes to live, but when he sets his sights on new game, his wife worries about her friends.
Bio: First short story published in a national consumer magazine; author of four books and coauthor of Girl Zoo due out in 2019; stories published in many literary magazines. For more, visit aimeeparkison.com.
Title: “Parting” [Coming January 18]
Storyline: Rose and Jackson both encountered unexpected detours and disappointments early in life. Now at a crossroads, what path will they choose?
Bio: 2016 Great American Fiction Contest runner-up; stories published in many literary magazines; working on a short story collection, Duplicity. For more, visit marleneolinauthor.wixsite.com/home.
Title: “Rising to the Surface” [Coming January 25]
Storyline: When your world is suddenly shattered, how far would you go to put it back together?
Bio: First short story published by a national magazine.
Title: “Immigrant/Emigrant” [Coming February 1]
Storyline: Francesca reluctantly agreed to deliver the potato torte to the Racosis two floors below, but she had no idea what she was walking into.
Bio: First short story published by a national magazine, drawn from his unpublished novel, My Father’s Coat.
Read the Best!
Post editors are delighted by the storytelling and fine writing of this year’s entrants. We’ve compiled the best stories — our winner, runners-up, and honorable mentions — in an e-book, available on your favorite platforms for $3.99. Order now at saturdayeveningpost.com/fiction-books.
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