The Northern Writers’ Awards has opened for submissions with a chance to win a share of £40,000 in development opportunities as former winner Benjamin Myers (pictured) launches a new short story category.
Other new opportunities for 2022 include a newly unveiled development opportunity for emerging poets in partnership with Out-Spoken Press and seminars given by The Soho Agency.
Now in its 23rd year, the awards programme is the largest writing development project of its kind in England and has a reputation for identifying some of the country’s best unpublished writing. It is produced by New Writing North, with support from Northumbria University and Arts Council England and a range of partners.
Myers won a Northern Writers’ Award in 2013 and he is now supporting other writers with the introduction of a new prize, the Finchale Award for Short Fiction. He is funding it following the adaptation of The Gallows Pole (Bloomsbury), which is being adapted by Shane Meadows for the actor's first BBC drama commission.
“Winning a Northern Writers’ Award was the first crucial step in my writing career,” Myers said. “I always vowed that if I were in a position to give back the £5,000 prize money via an annual competition, I would, and fortunately now with one of my novels being adapted for the screen, I can.
"The prize is named after Finchale Priory, once a medieval place of retreat for the monks of Durham cathedral, and a place that’s special to me. I’m excited to read the entries, and encourage writers of any background or ability to enter. I firmly believe that here in the North we don’t wait for things to happen—we make them happen.”
Judges include the writers Tahmima Anam and Doug Johnstone, who will oversee fiction and narrative non-fiction categories, Helen Mort and Anthony Anaxagorou, who will judge poetry categories, and Katy Massey, who will consider the Sid Chaplin Award. Children’s author Michael Mann will be one of the panel members for the Hachette Children’s Novel Award.
The 2022 winners will join a list of 360 writers in the north of England who have been supported through the scheme. The awards offer a wide range of support and opportunities for writers at all stages of their careers, including publication, mentoring, manuscript assessment, writing placements, retreats and cash awards to buy time to write. The award fund totals £40,000 in development opportunities and all winners are invited to join a new Northern Writers’ Awards Talent Network.
The prize programme features partnerships with Arvon, Bonafide Films, Channel 4, Hachette Children’s Group, Lime Pictures, The Literary Consultancy, Madeleine Millburn Agency, Newcastle University, The North Literary Agency, Oneworld Publications, Out-Spoken Press, the Society of Authors, the Soho Agency and the University of York, as well as donations from individual donors.
Claire Malcolm, c.e.o. of New Writing North, said: "As our main platform for identifying the writers and works that we'll support towards publication and broadcast over the years that follow, the Northern Writers' Awards are an incredibly special part of our programme, so we’re thrilled to open the 2022 awards and can’t wait to read the work that comes in. If you’re a writer at any stage of your career in the North, we’d love to hear from you.
“It is a great pleasure to watch the positive impact our awards and support can have on a writer's career, so it means a lot that with the new Finchale Award for Short Fiction, our 2013 winner Benjamin Myers is now in a position to pass on that gift to other emerging writers.”