22 writers from across the north of England share £40,000 prize fund as the awards expand in value and geographical reach

The 22 winners of the Northern Writers’ Awards 2013 were announced on Tuesday 18 June at the official awards ceremony in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The newly-expanded awards are bigger in value and have a wider regional scope than ever before, enabling talented writers from the north of England to benefit from investment in their work and exceptional support programmes.

Initially only available to writers in the north east of England, the Northern Writers’ Awards opened up to writers from across the North for the 2013 intake, which led to over three times as many submissions.

“This year we are bucking the trend of the economic climate and have grown the awards both in size and scale to ensure that the profile of writers from the North continues to grow,” said New Writing North chief executive Claire Malcolm. “And this year’s winners hail from across the Greater North – from Lancaster and Manchester in the West to Sheffield in the South of the region through to Newcastle and Whitley Bay in the North East.

“In fact, with five of the 22 winning writers from Sheffield alone, an area which previously wasn’t eligible for the Northern Writers’ Awards, this year has demonstrated that there’s a clear role for New Writing North in helping to support and shape development for writers across a wider landscape.

“Our region continues to be an exceptional place for new writers to learn their craft and the North has many stories to tell about itself, but talented writers need to be connected to opportunities as well as resources.

“The core of the publishing industry remains focused in and on London. The Northern Writers’ Awards offer a unique package of cash, support and introductions that has seen many writers go on to achieve book deals and to progress their work.”

The flagship awards programme, created and run by New Writing North, was launched in 2000 to support talented new and established writers to develop their work towards publication through cash prizes, mentoring, networking opportunities, and critical feedback.

Ian McMillan, poetry judge for 2013 and celebrated northern poet and presenter of The Verb on Radio 3, appreciated the value of early investment in a writer’s career, particularly in the North, which has a vibrant but traditionally under-recognised creative writing scene:

“I remember being supported at a very early stage in my career by a grant from a local arts association; in a sense it wasn’t just the money (although that helped!) but the recognition, the acknowledgement that I was doing something right.

“That’s why I’m very proud to be associated with the Northern Writers’ Awards, to celebrate and give practical help to a number of poets and prose writers who are producing marvellous work in difficult times in the most creative region in the country!”

Novelist Sarah Hall was the fiction judge for 2013, and was herself recently unveiled as one of the prestigious Granta Best Young British Novelists. She was pleased by the quality and variety of submissions, and delighted to discover deep talent in the region by the quality of the submissions she had to choose from:

“It’s going to be fascinating to see projects already underway come to fruition, and to see what future work will be produced by the authors receiving awards, all of whom showed great promise and individual strength and style as fiction writers.

“They really are great ambassadors for creativity in the North, and should be celebrated and supported as much as possible.”

2013 is the second year that the awards have been supported by Northumbria University, which has given the awards £60,000 in total. Potts Print (UK) are also project sponsors, and enable the awards’ publicity to become carbon neutral. This new support secures the future of the awards for writers across northern England.

The winning writers fall into two categories: those receiving cash prizes to allow them to buy time to write and complete works-in-progress, and those receiving development bursaries to bring a current piece of work towards publication.

The cash prize winners for 2013 are:

FICTION
Carys Davies from Lancaster; Jordana Hill from Manchester; Jude Brown and Beverley Ward from Sheffield; Sophie Coulombeau from York; and Benjamin Myers from Hebden Bridge.

POETRY
Ian Duhig from Leeds; Carolyn Jess-Cooke from Whitley Bay; Geraldine Monk and Suzannah Evans from Sheffield; and Zaffar Kunial from Shipley.

Toby Martinez de las Rivas, a poet from Gateshead published by Faber & Faber, was announced as the first ever winner of the International Residency Prize, which carries a £5,000 cash prize as well as a two-week residency at New Writing North’s partner organisation in Newcastle, New South Wales, Hunter Writers’ Centre, in October 2013.

A further ten authors are receiving bursary prizes for their poetry or prose works-in-progress, in partnership with The Literary Consultancy (TLC), Arvon and the Poetry School.

The bursary winners will receive either a full manuscript appraisal from TLC, worth £500, a full bursary to attend a week-long Arvon residency worth £680, or will take part in a year-long development programme across the north of England with the Poetry School, worth £1,800.

Awards alumni include many writers whose work has gone on to be published including Carolyn Jess-Cooke, Carol Clewlow, Mari Hannah, Sean O’Brien, Jacob Polley, Dan Smith, John Murray and Niel Bushnell.

The awards are open to writers of any genre from literary fiction to poetry and writing for children.

The 2014 Northern Writers’ Awards will open for entries in October 2013 and the deadline will be 31 January 2014.