The 2012 competition was for a short story in which an animal played an integral part.
Being up to my eyes in conference administration without a single animal idea in my head, I decided to leave it for this year. But then this insane first line crept stealthily into my head...
Any writer will know what happened next. I abandoned the admin and wrote. And I have to say I felt MUCH better once I'd finished, even though it was a completely mad story.
It didn't win, but it did come fourth (after Alison Maynard, Judy Astley and, er, someone I've forgotten, sorry). So I expanded it a bit, polished it some more and sent it off to Woman's Weekly, who bought it.
So when you read the opening line, just remember that I WROTE IT FIRST
Pardon? You don't understand? What am I talking about? Oh, silly me...
The insane first line in question is:
"It's about the lion," said the woman on the doorstep.
and what was in the news on the bank holiday weekend just gone? That's right, a lion sighting in Essex...
Life imitating art, see?