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Written in blood 

Local authors find their pulse in the 2007 Fiction Contest entries

It was one those brainstorming meetings -- you know, the beer and pizza were supposedly "free," but we all really knew the goodies came at a price. Don't they all? The proctors kept going around the room, soliciting themes for the 2007 Fiction Contest. The paper on the easel was filling up with words and phrases, which, at various times and depending on whom you asked, were the best and worst possible options.

We feared the theme would sound exactly like what it was -- the product of an "idea" meeting. As the minutes ticked off, we were feeling like our brains were being sucked dry.

Wait a minute. Sucked. Dry. Hmmm ... blood! Yeah, that's the ticket! The possibilities were endless, we agreed, certainly no less so than the themes from previous years ("ice," "smoke" and before that "dirt").

There was an initial resistance, though. What if the goths got wind of this? We were announcing before Halloween, after all. Boldly, we pushed forward with the theme, and the results were ...

Surprising, definitely. Bloody, of course. But there's more than one way to skin a cat, and as you'll read with our three finalists (with an honorable-mention also published online), blood can rear itself in a lot of creative ways.

First-place winner Brett Bender found it in the memory of a lost high-school love in "Siamese Twins," with its sounds of the Cure and sweaty basement encounters. Second-place winner Caroline Seton Ledlie found it in the spittle from Hartry, her homeless Old Fourth Ward protagonist in "Resurgens Again." She also saw it as a stand-in for Atlanta's famed red clay, which also stars in the work of third-place winner Elizabeth Rose Anderson's "Terminus," in which a young tough of a lesbian tries to keep the blood of her best friend in check -- and away from unsuspecting strangers.

Stories this year were judged by three of the South's finest: Atlanta's own Tayari Jones and Jack Pendarvis, and Tallahassee, Fla.'s Brenda Mills.

So sit back and relax in your crimson robe, pour yourself a glass of hearty burgundy or V8, and enjoy these three slices of life.

Just don't cut yourself.

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