Writers including J J Bola and Rachel Seiffert have been awarded grants by the Society of Authors in its latest round of funding to support works in progress.
This year SoA is dealing out £180,000 in grant money to enable 50 established and emerging authors to complete their latest projects.
London-based Congolese writer Bola, who published his debut No Place to Call Home with OWN IT! last year following a "keenly and closely contested" auction, receives grant funding alongside WriteNow mentee Burhana Islam and Justin Chambers-Coe, who published his debut The Dictionary of Dads with Otter-Barry Books in 2017. The SoA is also supporting critic Chris Power with the Eric Ambler Award after publishing his debut short story collection Mothers earlier this year, Tom Bullough, the author of four novels, most recently Addlands (Granta, 2016), and Virago author Seiffert, whose debut The Dark Room was shortlisted for the Man Booker 2002.
Bola was awarded the Authors' foundation grant for his current project, a non-fiction book on masculinity. He commented: "As a young, minority, working class writer, living and working in London, this grant will allow me to make greater research and contributions on this subject, connecting on a closer level with young people, young boys and the local community, through workshops and talks. And it alleviates some of the pressures of having to survive in an austerity driven, financially challenging city, which will help me concentrate more on the quality of work that I can produce."
For Seiffert, who is currently researching and drafting a novel starting in the Caribbean in the 1600s, the grant money will fund a research trip to Barbados where she can consult the National Archives, while for Bullough, it will allow him to polish off his fifth novel A Bird Is Born Twice, a story suffused with Welsh myth and history.
Chambers-Coe will now able to complete his second collection of children's poetry with Otter-Barry books. He said: "Supporting my family on the wages of a working poet has never been easy but the recent cuts to education budgets have begun to seriously impact on my income, as more and more schools struggle to find funds for author visits. As well as buying me time to write, this grant will also enable me to offer a few free visits to schools to help research and trial the new poems, as well as inspiring young people to create work of their own."
Islam was awarded the grant for her verse novel-in-progress, Sticks and Stones. She added: "Being a teacher, as well as having responsibilities at home, makes it difficult to fit in time to write, but because of the grant, I can really work on something that means the world to me. The Society of Authors supports writers from all walks of life and this opportunity is not only a much-needed confidence boost, but it almost feels like it validates my own aims of getting a marginalised voice out to readers, one that needs be heard in this day and age. Truth be told, I cannot be more grateful for that."
New grant applicants should apply to SoA for funding by 1st September.