Sorry once again for my lack of dA activity which is caused by my ongoing Dry Eye Syndrome
I am long overdue to post the results of the Summer Sleuths Story Competition.
I owe all of the writers great thanks and far more comprehensive feedback than I gave so far or have the time to write here. At the time my illness took hold I was in the flow of illustrating the stories. Now the whole thing has been derailed.
There were 20 stories submitted and they were judged by myself and three other judges, all of whom have prior experience of writing for Amanda: SuikTwoPointOh
. They are all great writers in their own right and I urge you to check out their stories.
The criteria used for judging the stories were exactly as set out in the competition rules. I don't want to rank all 20 stories from 1-20 as I feel that authors 16-20 might end up feeling demoralized which is not the point. Some stories were great fun but lost out simply because of things like fit with the characters' back stories. It doesn't mean they were bad, it means those authors had some fun with my characters and weren't necessarily trying to win the competition anyway. It's all fine.
I calculated the winner in a completely unbiased way by totaling the scores of all four judges giving a score from 0-80. Within this there were also some points for personal preference, and it's important to note that tastes differed widely even between the judges. The result was extremely close with the top four stories all separated by just a point each.
Anyhow, ahem, it is my pleasure to announce the winning story was:
Strong all-round, we thought the setting of the Paris Catacombs was an excellent choice and you eerily brought it to life. The peril slowly built up around the trio of girls as they went on oblivious and driven by their curiosity. I had some difficulty that the story contained supernatural elements (which don't generally feature in Amanda's world) but it seemed that very many of the stories did. Most importantly of all, though, I thought that you got the character of Amanda herself just right. Congratulations on a deserved win, especially as this was just one of a trilogy of stories you submitted.
The rest of the top five, all honorable mentions were:
This one I thought had the best of all interaction between the characters. Research and sense of place in Amsterdam was also very strong. Funnily enough I enjoyed the story a lot more in the build up to the knockout scene than when it came. The bad guys were a little... simple. In terms of the final image well, that's still a work in progress.
Very well written and excellently researched, this was the best of the Hannah-centric stories. I really enjoyed reading about Hannah's home and family in Ireland. Thank you for giving her some much needed character development. The story also contained supernatural elements but hey, who minds...
This was a sequel to the all-too-short Amanda Jones in Monte Carlo which had her once again running into the Russian mafia. One judge in particular had a real problem with this in that quite rightly these are not really the right kind of antagonist for Amanda... being rather too dangerous. Amanda herself is not quite suicidal enough to get involved in taking on an organization like that. Nevertheless this story had an immensely enjoyable scene where Kat posed as a Sebastian Vettel's sister(?) going to test drive a car: definitely my favorite Kat scene of the whole competition.
Surely the darkest of the stories... the fatal loss of two of the three protagonists was not to the tastes of all the judges and thus this entry was unlikely to top the chart with the score being an aggregate - despite its obvious qualities. I felt that the some of the descriptive passages in this story were the best in the whole competition.
Thanks, once again, to all of the authors for their submissions. I really have been so lucky in having a fan base for my characters with so many talented writers who were motivated to write for them. Now, I feel, most of the character development for Hannah and Kat has been done - they are what you made them.
To end with the prickly question: which, if any, of the stories could or should be adopted into the ongoing narratives of the characters? The answer is relatively straightforward. I would say that all of the stories submitted about Amanda, Kat and Hannah were completely fictional - but how they made you feel about the characters was 100% real. What happened to the three girls last Summer? They had a number of exciting adventures, of which these twenty stories give you a flavor. Did they encounter supernatural forces and did any of the girls get killed off? Certainly no, and no. But in the case of stories where they did, it doesn't mean that the whole of those stories are wiped from the slate... these stories minus the supernatural and death scenes can all form part of their universe. For example, Amanda and Hannah definitely visited Strekov Castle - this can be referred to in future and Amanda will always remember it - but was Kat drowned there? No she was not. Kat is alive and well, of course! Just like Amanda and Hannah.
I hope I am not done with illustrating this trio. It's unlikely they will get together again, as Amanda's next Summer will be spent on a certain trip to a certain mansion in rainy England... Nevertheless both Kat and Hannah as new characters (my first new ones since Rachel Fox in 2012, can you believe it) seemed to be very popular, and are therefore quite likely to get into further scrapes and spin-off adventures as full and permanent cast members from now on.
I hope I can return to illustrating at some point. I have had some improvement in my Dry Eye Problem, improvement enough to come on and make this post, but please understand that I am only half-better, things are very far from how I used to be when I could spend hour after hour trying to perfect a picture or invent an outfit. And there doesn't seem to be much change from one week to the next. I hope to come and visit deviantART a little more now but I do fear that things may never return to how they were before.