paul-chafe

Toronto writer Paul Chafe won in the romance category. ((paulchafe.com))

When it comes to bad writing, Canadians have the romance category all wrapped up.

The results of the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest were announced Tuesday by San Jose University, and Toronto's Paul Chafe was a winner in the romance category, with Jonathan Blay of Bedford, N.S., named runner-up.

Chafe, a soldier and writer whose books include Prisoner of War and Destiny's Forge, conjured an entire novel with his romantic opening sentence.

"'Trent, I love you,' Fiona murmured, and her nostrils flared at the faint trace of her lover's masculine scent, sending her heart racing and her mind dreaming of the life they would live together, alternating sumptuous world cruises with long, romantic interludes in the mansion on his private island, alone together except for the maids, the cook, the butler, and Dirk and Rafael, the hard-bodied pool boys."

Chafe called it "a great honour, or dishonour, to be chosen." It is the first year he has entered the contest.

"Writing a bad sentence is like jumping off a building," he said in an email to CBC News. "It seems easy at first, but by the time you're done you're going to wish you'd taken the stairs."

Blay, who also earned a dishonourable mention in the 2007 Bulwer-Lytton contest, gave an insect expert's take on romance.

"She purred sensually, oozing allure that was resisted only by his realization as an entomologist that the protein dust on the couch from the filing of her crimson nails was now being devoured by dust mites in a clicking, ferocious, ecstatic frenzy."

They were among 20 writers accorded winner, runner-up and dishonourable mention status in the contest, which is named for the writer who in 1830 began his novel, "It was a dark and stormy night."

The overall winner was Molly Ringer of Seattle, author of young adult novels The Ghost Downstairs and Summer Term.

Her entry: "For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity's affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss — a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity's mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world's thirstiest gerbil."

Winners, mainly from the U.S., were also declared in the adventure, children's, puns, fantasy and historical fiction categories.

Steve Lynch of San Marcos, Calif., had a notable entry in the detective category.

"She walked into my office wearing a body that would make a man write bad cheques, but in this paperless age you would first have to obtain her ABA Routing Transit Number and Account Number and then disable your own Overdraft Protection in order to do so."