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Success stories

The Northern Writers’ Awards have played a significant role in the career development of many writers since they were established in 2000.

Carys Davies, Northern Writers’ Award winner, 2013

‘In the summer of 2013, with the money from my Northern Writers’ Award, I was able to finish my second collection of short stories, The Redemption of Galen Pike. Salt, who published my debut collection of stories in 2007, made an offer soon afterwards, and the book came out in October 2014. The following spring it was shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year and the Edge Hill Short Story Prize, and went on to win both the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, which is the world’s richest prize for a collection of stories. Overseas book rights have so far been bought in Australia and New Zealand, with Text Publishing bringing out The Travellers And Other Stories in September 2015.’

Chloe Daykin, Northern Writers’ Award winner, 2014

‘When I won a Northern Writers’ Award I was at a very particular fork in my life where I could choose between writing my book and worky work. The award gave me the chance to go with the book. At the awards’ Talent Party in London I met my agent, the brilliant Ben Illis at BIA. In the spring Fish Boy got sent out to publishers and, chuffingly, was in an auction on the eve of the Bologna Book Fair, where I signed a dream two-book deal with the amazing team at Faber & Faber. After that I was very honoured to win the inaugural Julia Darling Travel Fellowship, which allowed me to spend this summer travelling round Norway for research and inspiration for book two! Since winning the award things have been pretty extraordinary. A whole new career’s opened up and I’m incredibly grateful for the time, contacts and confidence this award gave me to make that possible. I have no idea what’ll happen next but I hope it’s gonna be exciting and twisty-turny and full of adventure.’

Benjamin Myers, Northern Writers’ Award winner, 2013

‘When I entered the Northern Writers’ Award, I had already published a couple of novels, but nevertheless felt somewhat stuck. I had a half-written novel which I eventually titled Beastings, and which I considered my best work, yet did not have the means to complete it. Winning the award gave me the time, money and encouragement to do that, but perhaps more valuable to me was the feedback from that year’s judge, Sarah Hall, a writer I already admired and considered something of a kindred spirit in terms of our interest in northern landscapes. Sarah’s belief in the book seemed to go way beyond her duties as a judge. The award also brought me into contact with New Writing North, whose advice and encouragement has continued beyond Beastings and into other collaborative projects, and, without wishing to sound parochial, has been a necessary reminder that a world exists beyond the close-knit and often inward-looking literary circles of the London publishing world. Beastings found a home with Bluemoose Books, and has received positive national coverage and strong sales. In 2015 it was longlisted for a Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Award and shortlisted for the Portico Prize For Literature. I have written two new novels since then and collectively my works loosely explore different Northern counties during different eras. I intend to map an alternative northern England and the Northern Writers’ Award has given me the freedom to pursue this on-going, multi-novel project – a possible life’s work, in fact. I’m eternally grateful.’

Rebecca Muddiman, Northern Writers’ Award winner, 2010

‘I wouldn’t be here without New Writing North and the Northern Writers’ Awards. When I won a Time to Write Award in 2010 it was the second time I’d entered and I wasn’t sure whether the book I was working on was worth pursuing. Winning the award was fantastic, not just for the actual prize which allowed me to take time off work and concentrate on the book, but, maybe more importantly, it also gave me the confidence to do so. At the awards themselves, and afterwards, I made a lot of contacts, both with other writers and people in the industry, and at another New Writing North event they introduced me to Stan, who would eventually become my agent. Since winning the award, I won the Northern Crime Competition in 2012 which led to my novel, Stolen, being published by Moth Publishing, followed by a two-book deal with Hodder. My second novel, Gone, was released in 2015, and the third, Tell Me Lies, will be released in 2016. My work has also been translated into German and Russian.’

Andrew Hankinson, Northern Writers’ Award winner, 2012

‘Before I won the award I’d had interest in my journalism from a couple of agents, but I couldn’t get them interested in the book I wanted to write. In fact, I’d pretty much given up on that book and moved on to a project one of the agents had suggested to me. But I decided to submit it to the Northern Writers’ Awards, and when I won everything changed: people took the book seriously, agents wanted to work with me on it, and it helped my freelance career too – suddenly I was an award winner. It still took a couple of years to find a publisher who understood what I was trying to achieve, but eventually my book was signed by Scribe and is due out in February 2016. In all the publicity material Scribe produces for my book they include that tagline: Winner of a Northern Writers’ Award. It’s a stamp of approval, which is so important for a new author.’

Shelley Day Sclater, Northern Writers’ Award winner in 2011 and 2015

‘The same year I won the Andrea Badenoch Award, my debut The Confession of Stella Moon (still only work-in-progress) was shortlisted for the UEA Charles Pick Fellowship. I kept on writing and rewriting and rewriting. Then I sent my work to The Literary Consultancy in London for an appraisal – part of my prize, under their ‘free read’ scheme. The TLC so loved my Stella, they helped me find my lovely agent Jenny Brown. Under Jenny’s guidance I have made Stella the best she could be, and my book was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award and shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize. Plus, I was picked by UNESCO City of Literature to be one of their “emerging writers” at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2013. It is now all starting to happen for me as an author. New Writing North was behind Stella from the start and has supported us all the way. I am so proud to announce that The Confession of Stella Moon will be published by Saraband in 2016. I’m immensely grateful to NWN. I can’t say THANK YOU loud enough!’

Zainab Abbass, Cuckoo Young Writers’ Award winner, 2015

‘Being a young writer sometimes feels like you live your life in limbo; it’s a lot of uncertainty and poems on Costa napkins and excessively sending off your work to your friends at 3am. It’s hard to fully establish how to get published or noticed. If you are nodding in agreement at all prior comments then I really, really, really encourage you to enter the Cuckoo Young Writers’ prize. Entering writing competitions is the most important thing you can do for yourself, and only a portion of that is about winning. The effort you put into your entries, the courage and motivation it gives you is so extensively crucial. I, personally, didn’t think for one second I had a chance of winning so when I got the email during English Language, I was in such shock that I had to run to the toilets to perform a spontaneous one-minute ritual of jumping up and down and staring in awe at the white tiles. It felt amazing – and I truly mean it. It’s always such a struggle to fully commit to what you love so to be recognised for it is possibly the greatest feeling in the world. The Cuckoo Young Writers’ prize definitely gave me the confidence to enter more competitions and to share more of my work. But above all that, it gave me the ardent and everlasting zeal to write, write, write and write more.’

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