Congratulations to the winner, runners-up, and finalists of our 2023 SASFest Short Fiction Contest. Their contest entries will be published in our anthology, New Fiction From the Festival 2023.

Jamey Baumgardt is a Pacific Northwest native, born and raised near Seattle, Washington. He studied literature and creative writing in junior college, and received his BFA in painting and drawing from the University of Washington. He lives on three wooded acres with his husband and two dogs. In addition to writing, his artistic pursuits include painting and making music.

Ariadne Blayde (2023 WINNER) is an award-winning author and playwright. Her work has appeared in Parhelion Literary Magazine, the Fountain Magazine, and various anthologies, and her plays have been produced around the world. Her debut novel Ash Tuesday, about the ghosts of New Orleans’ French Quarter and the strange souls who tell their stories for a living, is out now from indie press April Gloaming Publishing and is available wherever books are sold. Ariadne lives in New Orleans and moonlights as a tour guide in the French Quarter. 

Powell Burke‘s short fiction has previously appeared in Per Contra, Eclectica Magazine, West Trade Review, and Cricket Online Review. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Bennington College. Powell is a psychotherapist in private practice in Atlanta, specializing in working with members of LGBTQIA+ communities.

Award-winning author Marco Carocari originally hails from Switzerland where he worked in numerous jobs and capacities, including slinging food for the masses on a major airline and enjoying five seconds of fame in a mostly forgotten but gratifying career as a photographer of erotic art. His debut, Blackout, was nominated for a Lefty and won TheNYCBigBookAward and Independent Press Award for Best LGBTQ Novel. His short story “All In The Planning” appears in Malice Domestic 16: Mystery Most Diabolical. Marco lives in the Californian desert with his exceptionally sweet and supportive—aka patient—husband.

Anil Classen was born in 1977 and spent his first twenty-one years in the seaside city of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He is a German writer of Indian descent living in Switzerland with an academic background in Psychology, English, and Journalism. He divides his time between Zurich, Hamburg, and Cape Town, each of these being called home at one stage of his life. At the moment he is knee deep in snow in the countryside, working hard on his writing, this time a first draft for a potential novel.

John Copenhaver’s historical crime novel, Dodging and Burning (Pegasus), won the 2019 Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel, and his second novel, The Savage Kind, won the 2021 Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBTQ Mystery. He cohosts the House of Mystery Radio Show and, for years, wrote a crime fiction review column for Lambda called “Blacklight.” He’s a faculty mentor in University of Nebraska’s Low-Residency MFA program, and he teaches at VCU in Richmond, VA. His forthcoming third novel, Hall of Mirrors, is the sequel to The Savage Kind.

J. Duncan Davidson feels most natural surrounded by the woods of the Pacific Northwest. An architect for 20 years, his sensitivity to structure, craft and composition has informed recent project work that ranges from forest stewardship to writing. His interest in exploring male intimacy, especially in situations set within a lush, chaotic, or unknowable landscape, has brought about this latest piece of historic fiction. A type of “trying to hold on” narrative is a hallmark of his work. He lives in Seattle with his husband and two dogs.

Mary Fox was born of immigrant Irish heritage and raised in South London. After studying Chemical Engineering at university and working for many years as an accountant she decided to focus on creative writing. She has had stories published in many UK-based anthologies, including the Fish anthology, the GRIST anthology of protest, and the Momaya Short Story Review, as well as some international publications such as Nirvalis, published by Fabula Press, and the Baby Boomer Plus anthology. She currently resides in Epsom (home of the infamous Derby horse race) with a pair of hens named Tikka and Jalfrezi.

Philip Gambone is writing a series of short stories about the lives of older gay men. His five books include a collection of short stories, a novel, a book of interviews with prominent gay fiction writers, and Travels in a Gay Nation, a book of profiles of LGBTQ Americans. His most recent book is As Far As I Can Tell: Finding My Father in World War II, a memoir about tracing the route his father made across Europe during that war. It was named one of the Best Books of 2020 by The Boston Globe.

Spencer George is a writer from the Carolinas. She holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Barnard College and is currently pursuing her M.A. in Folklore at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her work has been published in The Bitter Southerner, Longreads, and The Adroit Journal, as well as in GOOD FOLK, the newsletter and podcast she runs. Spencer was the 2019 recipient of the Peter S. Prescott Prize and is at work on a neo-Southern Gothic novel set in a futuristic Appalachia about a mysterious pine tree god who appears only in dreams and the individuals who worship him. 

J.R. (John) Greenwell is a writer and playwright from Louisville, Kentucky, whose works include two books, Who the Hell is Rachel Wells? and In a Whirl of Delusion, published by Chelsea Station Editions. His newest story, “Water Between My Legs,” is from his current work in progress, The Boy Who Sewed (Tales of an Appalachian Sissy Boy). An account of his early days as a female impersonator in Atlanta, Georgia, and ultimately being crowned Miss Gay America 1979, has recently been chronicled in Martin Padgett’s book, A Night at the Sweet Gum Head. 

Judith Katz is the author of two novels, The Escape Artist and Running Fiercely Toward a High Thin Sound, which won the 1992 Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Fiction. In 2020, she edited Sinister Wisdom 119, To Be A Jewish Dyke in the 21st Century with Elana Dykewomon of blessed memory. She lives in Minneapolis with her wife, Paula Forman, and with their dog Lucy and their cat Newton.

Joshua Randal Leonard is an emerging writer from New York City whose writing focuses on the intersections between queer identities, American Gothic, and horror. A former fashion designer, he left the industry in 2020 to pursue writing. He received a B.F.A. in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College, where he was an editor for The Junction, BC’s creative arts magazine. He is currently a master’s student in Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Program, concentrating in speculative fiction. Raised in the piney woods of northwest Louisiana, he now calls Manhattan’s Upper West Side home with his husband and two cats. 

James McCoyne graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2016 and is currently pursuing his graduate studies at Tulane University, where he is earning an MA in English. Formerly a high school English teacher in Chicago, his academic interests include theories around race, gender and sexuality, culture and media studies, and stories told from the margins. He often returns to themes of alienation, identity, and resistance. Previous publications have focused on teaching pedagogy and structures of power in education. He currently resides in New Orleans, LA. 

Kendal McGinnis (2023 Runner-Up) is a writer and stand-up comic originally from Southern California. She graduated Colorado College with a degree in English and is currently a Master’s student in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys learning German and playing pool at seedy bars in her neighborhood. She is very excited to be part of the Saints and Sinners Short Fiction Contest this year!

C.A. Munn (2023 Runner-Up) is a New Orleans-based writer and theater-maker. They received their M.F.A. in playwriting from the University of New Orleans in 2022. Their plays have been produced and read at events and venues such as the Mid-America Theatre Conference, UNO School of the Arts, and Theatre Oxford in Oxford, MS. Munn has been a finalist for the International Literary Awards’ Rita Dove Prize in poetry, semi-finalist for the American Short Fiction Halifax Ranch Prize, and a Pushcart nominee in fiction. Their work can be found on the Ploughshares Blog and in Screen Door Review, Peauxdunque Review, and Ellipsis Journal.

Eric Peterson is a DC-based novelist and playwright. His plays include an adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables, Seven Strangers in a Circle (nominee, Best Play, Washington Theatre Festival), and Smoke & Mirrors. He has been a regular contributor to Letters from CAMP Rehoboth and NBC Out, and cohosts The Rewind Project, a podcast about old movies and modern times. He was named a finalist in the 2022 Saints + Sinners Short Fiction Contest for his story, “Little Boy Blue.” Loyalty, Love, & Vermouth is his first novel.

Carrie Smith (2023 Runner-Up) is author of the Claire Codella mysteries (Silent City, Forgotten City, Unholy City) and the literary novel Forget Harry. Her articles have appeared in Writer’s Digest, Daily Beast, Criminal Element, and Career Authors. She is a recipient of Killer Nashville’s Reader’s Choice Award, finalist in Nimrod’s Katherine Anne Porter Prize and the 2021 Saints and Sinners Fiction Contest, winner of three Hopwood Awards, and a former fellow of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Carrie lives in Manhattan with her wife and adult twins.

William Christy Smith is a library and museum professional. He has worked for the American Dental Association, New Orleans Museum of Art, Southern Food and Beverage Museum, Louisiana State University, Tulane University, and others. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in English from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, a master of liberal arts degree from the University of Chicago, and a master of arts administration degree from the University of New Orleans. He lives in New Orleans.  

John Whittier Treat has lived in the Pacific Northwest since 1983. His fiction has won the Christopher Hewitt Prize and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His novel, The Rise and Fall of the Yellow House, was a finalist for the 2016 Lambda Prize for Best Gay Fiction. A novella, Maid Service, was published in 2020 and his second novel, First Consonants, came out from Jaded Ibis Press in 2022. Treat is currently at work on his third novel, The Sixth City of Refuge, set among survivalists in rural eastern Washington State.

Visit for more information on Saints & Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival.

Finalists are alphabetical from the top, left to right.

SASFest is grateful to:

Publisher – Rebel Satori Press

Cover Artist – Timothy Cummings

John Burton Harter Foundation

Saints & Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival is a program of the Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival. Visit for more information about our annual event.