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International Short Story Prize Special Guest Judge Revealed!

Updated: Jun 11, 2018

This is sort of a big deal.

While all of our judges are hand selected for their skills and attention to detail, we know the importance of a household name.

Now, the reason we all compete in these competitions is so that we can get a couple of wins under our belts, catch the attention of some higher-ups, and break into the industry, right? It’s so we can prove our worth out there on the battlefield that is writing. And, while a win and a publication is invaluable, you know what else is also an added bonus?

How about being able to say that not only did you win, but you were chosen to win by an international best-selling author? Or agent? Or Publishing House Editor?

Yeah, that’s a prize, right there. And, this year, because we love you guys so much, we’ve been making the rounds, speaking to some choice people, and securing some big names to come aboard for our International Prizes (closing September 28th in case you haven’t seen). And, we’re so overjoyed and excited to reveal the first of our special guest judges!

We meet up with this author just this past week near his hometown, and spoke about life, writing, and what we want to build here at Grindstone, and wouldn’t you know it, he was excited to be a part of it!

So, without further ado, here he is, the special guest judge for our International Short Story Prize:

Mr Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson’s tale of success isn’t the conventional norm, shall we say, but what it does prove is that great talent does not go unnoticed for long.

Matt’s life has never been mundane. He served as a soldier in the British Military from 1975-78, and from there went on to work for the Metropolitan Police for over twenty years.

He was discharged in 1999, after being diagnosed with PTSD, but that didn’t stop him. While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged to write about his career and his experience with murders, shootings, and terrorism as a way to help work through his condition.

The process was cathartic, and what began as a humble night at the keyboard evolved into the debut for Robert Finlay, Wicked Game.

Matt originally published Wicked Game himself, but the success it garnered caught the eye of Literary Agent James Wills, of Watson Little. Matt was quickly signed, and Wicked Game was immediately snapped by a publishing house, which only goes to prove that the best way to get published and signed to an agent is to write a damn fine book!

Wicked Game was published in 2016 by Orenda Books, and has gone on to spark two sequels, Deadly Game, and End Game. Wicked Game went on, following its publication, to be an International Bestseller and Matt has been acclaimed as a talented thriller and crime writer by critics from around the world.

And as such, we are so proud to welcome him to Grindstone as our special guest judge.

Matt will be presiding over the shortlist and selecting our winners, as well as offering some insight into what he thought made them great!

We can’t thank him enough for agreeing to be a part of this, and we look forward to seeing what he’s going to choose!

We’ll be updating you with more information on his work, his likes, and his interests as we close in on the date, but for now, be very, very excited - we sure are!

Until next time,


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