Starting in 2008, the Indie Writers Deathmatch has been a fighting pit where writers can stand on the corpses of short stories that don’t cut as hard as their own. With a ruthless online comment board, and unforgiving voter tallies, the Deathmatch draws in the competitors, adrenaline junkies, and the narcissists of the short-fiction world. Every year a writer cries cheater; a writer invents a new method to rally voters; a writer wishes they never signed up; a writer proves they’re a grade above the others. Every year the action intensifies. Below we’ve chronicled some of the Deathmatch’s barbarous history and talented competitors.
Craig Calhoun – Winner of Deathmatch 2014. This man is a meme wizard, who built a humour campaign to expand his reach on Twitter. No one could compete with his fan base.
George Ian Thomas (GIT) – After losing his lead in the final minutes of his quarter final round, he was convinced that Broken Pencil was involved in a conspiracy to give Claire Farris the crown. He started his rant in round 2, returned to the scene in round 3 to prove he was still irked, and hijacked the board in round 6 to praise his own name.
Jordan Abel – He didn’t win the Deathmatch with his allegorical story 3 Dudes, Some Drugs, and A Bear (Deathmatch 2010), but 7 years later he went on to win one of the world’s most prestigious poetry prizes.
April Kelly – The Boy Meets World co-creater and Happy Days writer stepped into our wee little blood bath. She made up a fresh alias every time she left a comment, and gabbed a bit about child stars.
Greg Kearney – Already a columnist, Kearney entered the Deathmatch in 2008 and went on to publish some pretty amazing works of literature, including the Relit Award winning Pretty and the Lambda nominated novel The Desperates.
Emma Healey – An OG from Deathmatch 1. Healey became so promising a writer that she landed a Broken Pencil cover-story for her first book of poems Begin with the End of the Mind, published by Arbeiter Ring in 2012. Her new book is upcoming!
Martyn Bryant – Accusations of cheating ran so rampant that he posted a comment wishing to quit the race, in spite of his ultra-competitive vote tally. He ended up losing the round anyway.
Colin Brush vs Braydon Beaulieu – After a steady Beaulieu lead, a starcraft blogger told his followers to vote for Brush during the final hours of the round. Votes for Brush poured in by the hundreds, extinguishing Beaulieu’s efforts.
Hart – Also a visual artist, Hart posted links to his website which contained images he created to express his Deathmatch experience. Most of the images involved cut-outs from porno mags.
Heavyweights step into the ring in 2015 – Among the contestants were Roxanna Bennett, the author of “The Uncertainty Principle” published by Tightrope Books in 2014 and Nikola Jajic, who went on to be the Deathmatch 2015 winner, and was already a screenwriter and author of the graphic novels The Big Bad Book, Loosely Based and Devil’s Island.
David Griffin Brown – attracted votes using click-baiting add banners, which promised that he would to build a well in a small town in Panama if he took home the prize money.