Twenty-seven writers have been recognised at the 18th annual Northern Writers’ Awards, sharing the £43,000 prize fund.
The Northern Writers’ Awards support writers to achieve their creative ambitions at all stages of their careers and recognise unpublished work-in-progress by new and established writers in the North of England. This year’s awards, given in support, bursaries and cash prizes, were judged by literary agent Elise Dillsworth, authors Juno Dawson and Richard T Kelly and poet Clare Pollard.
Nine writers received the flagship Northern Writers’ Awards and 12-months membership of the Society of Authors, including Vidyan Ravinthiran, from Durham, who was awarded £3,000 to support him to complete his second poetry collection, a book of sonnets. Ravinthiran said he was "delighted" to have won an award: "It feels like a vindication of a difficult and personal project, and both the financial assistance and the tremendous emotional encouragement of it means a lot to me.”
Yvonne Battle-Felton, from Lancaster, received an award for her novel-in-progress, Remembered. Battle-Felton said: “Being awarded a Northern Writers’ Award feels like I’ve been granted a magical stopwatch that lets me slow down the outside world as I concentrate on completing my novel. At the same time, I know that with the award comes a community and network of support. I am looking forward to dedicated time to immerse myself into writing and the writing community.”
Maria Isakova-Bennett was one of five writers selected to take part in the New North Poets programme, run in collaboration with The Poetry School. Working with the poet Clare Pollard, participants will receive 12-months of mentoring, professional development and peer support. Isakova-Bennett said: “Over the past year in particular, I’ve been musing over how to explore wider possibilities for my poetry, and I feel hopeful that, through the award, in addition to the wonderful opportunity of mentoring, I’m going to learn more about opportunities for sharing my work and developing poetry with other disciplines.”
Two new writers have won Northumbria University/Channel 4 Writing for Television Awards, which give them nine-month attachments to the independent production companies Lime Pictures and Bonafide Films. Andrew Turner, from Bolton, will have the opportunity to work with staff on Hollyoaks, while Alex Clarke, from Sale, will be attached to Bonafide Films. Both writers will receive mentoring from experienced producers and a bursary worth £3,000.
The Northumbria University Student and Alumni Award was received by Gateshead writer, Heather Askwith, who said: “There have been points this year where I’ve wanted to give up, but my love of writing has always pulled me through. Winning this Northern Writers’ Award has shown me that being determined, working hard and striving to achieve your dreams in the face of rejection is worth it. I’m so glad that I kept going.”
Literary agent Elise Dillsworth, fiction judge, said: “The joy of judging lies in the excitement of discovering new writers who embrace diversity in the stories they choose to tell. These winners have shown that they have the potential to enrich our literary landscape. Fresh and insightful, these writers have allowed us to escape into other worlds, which is what the best fiction does.” Clare Pollard judged the poetry entries and said: “It was thrilling to judge these unique awards, and get a privileged insight into so many dazzling, diverse, ambitious poetic projects as they begin to take shape.”
The Northern Writers’ Awards are produced by New Writing North with funding from Arts Council England and support from Northumbria University, Channel 4 and North East Chamber of Commerce.
This year’s winners follow in the footsteps of successful previous recipients, including Chloe Daykin, whose debut children’s novel Fish Boy was published by Faber earlier this year; Mark Illis, whose young adult novel The Impossible will be published by Quercus this July; and poet Mark Pajak, who recently won an Eric Gregory Award.. This year the awards attracted over 1,200 entries.