The Yeovil Literary Prize

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2006 Results

For full details of the results, choose a category:

Results Table Intro Novel Short Story Poetry Stage Play

Novel Category

FIRST PRIZE - Sophie Duffy

SECOND PRIZE - Megan Taylor


Short Story Category

FIRST PRIZE - Joanne Riccioni

SECOND PRIZE - Tamara Britten


Poetry Category

FIRST PRIZE - Pat Borthwick

SECOND PRIZE - Jayne Kelly

THIRD PRIZE - Sheena Odle

The Yeovil Literary Prize 2006 has delighted us all, not only because the number of entries has doubled, but because of the continuing high standard. As always entries arrived from all over the world and were judged anonymously and objectively. Our judges enjoyed their task enormously, and though picking the winners was as always a tricky and close run thing; it was finally achieved.

The thing that all the finalists had in common was that they had accessed their voice. In other words, their work was truly their own, and as such stood out. Of course, there were some weaknesses amongst even the final three of each category, but in all there was that certain something- a carefully edited and re-drafted novel, short story or poem, a depth of emotion and understanding, and particularly in prose; an ability to show rather than tell. It is all of this that helps to create a living breathing world, (and/or image in the case of poetry) with which the reader can identify.

For further help, have a look at the Writing Tips on the Yeovil Community Arts Association website.

Of course, many other entrants had accessed a voice, but the finalists were those who just had the edge. All in all, a wonderful crop of entries. Thank you all for entering and ensuring that our fundraising and sponsorship projects continue. Next year, the prizes will be larger, and so too the entries, we hope.

Margaret Graham

(the final judging by Katie Fforde, International bestselling author of numerous novels including 'Highland Fling'.)
The total number of entries for this category was 189. Results are as follows:
First Prize
Sophie Duffy The Generation Game UK
Katie Fforde comments: This is very powerful writing. You draw your reader in immediately and combine wit and poignancy to very powerful effect. It is very slightly reminiscent of Behind the Scenes at the Museum, by Kate Atkinson, but not in a bad way. I really look forward to reading the rest in book form. Excellent. Well done!
Sophie Duffy tells us: I started writing as a young mother of three children and have won a number of competitions and had a couple of short stories published. I wrote a novel for my MA in Creative Writing which I completed by distance learning at Lancaster. Last year, my family and I returned to my home town, Teignmouth, where I started work on The Generation Game in between haggling with builders and settling in three disgruntled children. 'Winning this prize has given me great encouragement to fulfil my ambitions of being a published novelist and doing a PhD.
Second Prize
Megan Taylor How We Were Lost UK
Katie Fforde comments: Some beautiful writing and the subject will grab the heart straight away. I feel, however, that in spite of creating a very recognisable school world, too much time was spent on the beginning, thus losing a little of the sense of urgency. Once you got into the story a bit more, you created page turning tension and I was frustrated when I had no more to read.
Megan tells us: I have always loved to write, but it's only since the birth of my second child that I've taken my writing more seriously. I recently completed two distance-learning courses with Lancaster University and I'm due to begin an online Novel Writing MA with Manchester Metropolitan University this September. I am also currently planning my next novel. I have previously had stories short listed in several competitions, but never been placed. Achieving second in the Yeovil Prize feels fantastic.
Third Prize
Lou Reade The Mental Traveller UK
Katie Fforde comments: Intriguing and atmospheric. You describe India in a way that was completely recognisable to me and I like the concept of this novel very much. However, I did get a bit confused as to exactly which was flash back and which was happening currently. Bear in mind, that readers can get irritated when they have to zip about between the past and the present so you must strive for total clarity. Your power of description is excellent. Do persevere.
Lou Reade tells us: I grew up in Bristol and later attended Swansea University. I have worked as an editor and journalist since moving to London in 1990. This month, I moved to the Kent coast with my partner and three children. I won an award for a short extract of this work (the first 1,000 words), which inspired me to write more. To be placed in this contest gives me confidence that I'm moving in the right direction.
Highly Commended
Suzanne Cosquer Reaching Mazury Canada
David Evans Reluctant Hero UK
Heather Kaye French Tobacco Australia
James McKinty Debt of Blood UK
Jenny Newman The Hunt UK
Robert Ronsson Year of Burning Hay UK
Margaret Batteson Darkly the Glass UK
Douglas Bruton The Icon Painter's Dreams UK
Annie Copeland Punished with a Sixpence UK
Alison Daniell A Good Call UK
Dee Gordon My Little Brother, My little Life UK
Peter Harper Wild Connections UK
Jackie Hill Ne'ash UK
Pat Jackson Behind the Lines UK
Kate Kelly Ultraviolet Spring UK
Helen Kitson Earth Angel UK
Johanna Lipford The Search Italy
Joyce Mackenzie A Bride for Sunil UK
AJ Marshall The Osiris Revelations UK
Paul Maunder The War on Error UK
Lynne Patrick The Big Sky UK
Eira Reed The Cuttings UK
Reysh Roberts Mad as a Hatter Australia
Alison Theaker Undertow UK
Glynis West A Family's Trust France
David Henry Wilson Okonko - Father of the Nation UK
(the final judging by Susan Challis, bestselling author of 5 Dorset novels including; 'Blackthorn Winter'.)
The total number of entries for this category was 282. Results are as follows:
First Prize
Joanne Riccioni Dog Days Australia
Sarah Challis's comments: Dog Days tells of a child from East Anglia who makes regular visits to relatives in rural Italy and is confronted by the alien brutality of her grandfather. With an economy of style and without a shred of sentimentality the story recounts the careless cruelty inflicted on her from the age of five when he pinched her cheek so hard that she cried, to the age of eleven when he despatched her pet dog. However, at fifteen, when her grandfather dies, she is old enough to grasp at a little understanding of the very different world in which he has lived, and which has shaped him as a man. It is a story told with the lightest of touch, full of compassion. The language is restrained but powerful and the atmosphere of hot summers in rural Italy is lyrically evoked. This is a beautiful and haunting story, satisfying and memorable.
Joanne Riccioni tells us she did a Masters in Medieval Literature at Leeds University and is still reading her way towards the 21st century. Two years ago, at the age of 36, she started writing fiction to keep her brain alive in between singing Disney songs and making play dough for her two small children. After placing in a few short story competitions she has finally worked up the guts to begin a novel that has been simmering in her head for about fifteen years.
Second Prize
Tamara Britten Memories UK
Sarah Challis's comments: In second place is Memories, set in an exotic but unspecified location - Africa, I guess - and follows the thoughts of an old woman as she casts her mind back to the time when she and her brother were growing up as loved and wanted children in a small, impoverished tribal community. The writing is tender and moving as she describes her first meeting with white farmers and the promises made to her people. It moves from personal observation to a wider and sharply critical view of how little has changed in the world order. The narrator's voice rings with a striking authenticity and the descriptions of village life are vivid and affecting.
Tamara Britten tells us: Since graduating from Royal Holloway College with a History Degree, I have taught English as a foreign language in schools around Thailand, designed programmes at an adult education centre in Hong Kong, co-ordinated research for a BBC radio series on livestock in Somalia and managed a bar / restaurant on Koh Pha Ngan, an island off the coast of Thailand. I also edited and wrote features for a tourist magazine in Thailand. As well as reading, writing and travelling, I enjoy yoga, capoeira, scuba diving, mountain climbing, sunbathing and music. I am now doing an MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia and working on a novel set in Kenya during the outbreak of the Mau Mau emergency.
Third Prize
Eira Reed The Casket Maker UK
Sarah Challis's comments: This short story is set in some unspecified exotic location - Africa or Jamaica, I would guess, and has an authentic feel with a real sense of place and an ear for comedy. The dialogue is this story's strength as a tale of nicely-wrought revenge unfolds. Isaac Waseho, the coffin-maker, may have had to wait thirty years to get his own back on the man who stole and then mistreated his sweetheart, but when he does, it is to great effect. The writing is lively and assured, with a well-paced and humorous denouement.
Eira Reed tells us: At present I run my own gardening business in Earls Colne in Essex, but I am shortly moving with my partner to Fowey in Cornwall. I have a son of twenty who also writes, and is a drummer with the rock band 'Tat'. I completed my first novel, 'Shrunken Heads and Dressed Fleas,' after returning to the University of Essex as a mature student. This was long-listed for the Dundee Book Prize, and during that time I had my first short story published in The New Writer. I have since been a finalist twice in the Harry Bowling Book Prize, and reached the last twenty in the Asham Award. I am presently working on my third novel, 'The Cuttings,' based around a fictional incident in the life of Alfred Hitchcock. I smoke small cigars, and ride pillion on a Yamaha Thunderace.
Highly Commended
Deanna Allan Montana Make-Believe UK
Sue Carey Travelling Mercies Australia
Christine Farnes Emerald UK
Ken Lucas Boots En Route France
Liz Pike Girl in Black UK
Chris Robinson El Droppo UK
Jenny Harding-Rolls Moss Coloured Memories UK
Douglas Bruton The Crack UK
Jo Cannon Jam UK
Rosemary Hansell Break Up Australia
Wes Lee Tigers New Zealand
S.M Ajax-Lewis Time to Move On UK
Peter Marsh A Brush With Mother Japan
Sandra Morgan Dead Time UK
Victoria Owens Hook-nosed Kaya UK
Helena Prince It's That Time Again Germany
Rosemarie Rose Filling in the Blanks UK
David Tipping Art and Life UK
Betsy Wearing The Lamb Australia
(the final judging by Paul Hyland, renowned poet & travel writer.
Author of 'Arts of the Impossible' new and selected poems 1974/2004.)
The total number of entries for this category was 290. Results are as follows:
First Prize
Pat Borthwick Passing On the Tickle UK
Paul Hyland's comments: Passing On the Tickle is both sensuous and exact (my one reservation concerns 'breathing in, breathing out', something which a trout does not do, even metaphorically). The scene is clearly set. The language is idiosyncratic and just. See how 'argent' hints at heraldry and leads us towards ancestors who 'throng' and 'doff'. The marvellous last image allows us to understand, without spelling it out, how at the same time tradition is celebrated and the family line is betrayed.
Pat Borthwick tells us: I spent much of my early life on the canals and waterways of Britain but now live on a farm in the Howardian Hills close to the North York Moors. I trained in Fine Art and later studied ceramic sculpture and have had several one man exhibitions and my work is in permanent collections both here and abroad.
Now almost all of my work is text based. I have been Writer in Residence for a chalk cliff, a coalmine, a canal and a cabbage. Much of my writing addresses countryside issues and observes the ways that landscape and Man have continued to shape each other. I also work in sound, creating CD sonic portraits of an area, its people and ambient sounds. I see this as painting with sound and draws on the same compositional elements as I do for writing my poetry. I was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2003.
Second Prize
Jayne Kelly Buoy UK
Paul Hyland's comments: Buoy is set in open water. It is a poem of mourning for a man or a boy lost at sea which touchingly confronts an awful reality with the absurdity of the questions we must ask and the answers we are given in such circumstances.
Jayne Kelly tells us: I was a countryside ranger, museum manager and college lecturer in a previous life before the urge to become poor overwhelmed me and I became a full time writer. I enjoy a challenge and has written educational guides on subjects as diverse as Wildflower Meadows and Blackburn Rovers Football Club!
My true love is poetry and I do my best to fulfil the role of emotionally disturbed poet at my local writing group, Lytham Writers. I have had poems published in a number of anthologies and was recently runner-up in Writing Magazine's annual Open Poetry Competition. I am a member of the Society of Authors and have just completed The Certificate in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. I am married to my computer and a maths tutor who enjoys teaching our home-educated daughter all the maths she'll never need.
Third Prize
Sheena Odle Morning Story UK
Paul Hyland's comments: Morning Story is about 'stories' in several senses. Dad's anger at the 'myth' that distracts him from the Daily Mail is comical and sad. Mum's would-be escape into imagination from the reality she hates is moving. Will their son's story really console her?
Sheena Odle tells us: I have had a variety of jobs - 'Jill of all trades and mistress of none' probably best sums me up. The ones that I enjoyed most were remedial teaching, gardening, waitressing, market trading and making and selling popcorn at Catford dog track. Now in my seventies and living on the western fringe of Dartmoor I get great pleasure from spending time with my family and other good friends, walking in the countryside, not acting my age - and by exploring the endless possibilities of words; both by playing around with them myself and, especially, relishing what other people can do with them.
Highly Commended
Helen Bailey The Rendez-vous (sic) Jersey
Alison Hill Blush UK
Robin Muers Polonius attempts to advise his 21st century son UK
Madeleine Birch Back of the Wight UK
Ann Morgan The Builders UK

Participation in the judging of the first Octagon Theatre Award was both challenging and very rewarding. At the outset I had assumed that being in its first year the number of entries would be small, I was wrong. I also doubted that the fledgling competition would attract the best in aspiring playwrights, again I was wrong.

Writing for the stage does require very special disciplines. The story must be able to be told in around two hours playing time and be able to be performed by actors in real time. The attention of the audience cannot be focused by devices like close-up shots or clever camera angles. Again I had expected many entrants to stray into the realms of TV and film, forgetting the constraints that theatre imposes, very few did!

As a result arriving at a short list was an enormously difficult task. So many of the entries would make, and hopefully one day will make, very good pieces of theatre.

John White

(Stage Play Judging Team Leader)

For full details of the results, choose a category:

Full Results First Night Review

(Final judging by Julian Kitchener-Fellowes)
The total number of entries for this category was 58. Results are as follows:
Dick Curran The Gareth Jones Memorial Theatre UK
Julian's comments: "The Gareth Jones Memorial Theatre: (paraphrased) I must give the winning ticket to The Gareth Jones Memorial Theatre because it might easily have been written by someone making their living in this field. It has complete mastery of character narrative and offers genuinely character defining dialogue - which is crucial really. It is full of parts that are worth playing (a huge recommendation) and is the most satisfying journey in terms of the various characters' arcs. All in all, a proper winner and well done."
Dick Curran tells us that he has written for as long as he can remember, and after doing an English degree, he spent a year living in a crummy bedsit in Manchester writing a novel. This put him off the idea for a few years - especially when the rejection letters started coming in - but he started again in his late twenties and completed another novel, 'Almost Persuaded', which was published by the Citron Press in 1999.
Since coming back to Newcastle (after living in London, Brighton and Hull), he has been concentrating mainly on stage writing. He has done some acting - in order to understand better what an actor requires from a script - and has learnt a lot through writing for amateur groups. This has covered everything from pub theatre comedy sketches to an adaptation of A Christmas Carol in the Great Hall of the Castle Keep in Newcastle.
He balances his writing with a job in IT - one is far more fulfilling than the other, but he needs to eat! He is progressively spending less time doing the day job and more time writing, and prizes (of which the Yeovil Stage Play is the most significant) are very important in encouraging him to persevere. Last year he was runner-up for the BBC Radio Alfred Bradley Bursary with 'Therapy', adapted from a one act play which had earlier won the Drama Association of Wales Short Play Competition. But he tells us that there is still nothing as rewarding as seeing and hearing his work performed, so is very excited at the opportunity to see 'The Gareth Jones Memorial Theatre' (which he has been working on over the last two years) given a full professional production at the Octagon Theatre.
Highly Commended
Ray Ridgewell The Illusion UK
Julian's comments: "The Illusion: (paraphrased) A genuinely original concept. Of course it nudges into Pirandello's territory, but I confess I found it more entertaining than he generally is. Were the author of the piece to sharpen up his or her grasp of dialogue a bit and pay some more attention to sustaining character, then I could easily imagine it a) being put on professionally, and b) becoming a favourite in rep, drama school, or with amateur groups as it gives lots of actors plenty to do and would provide a completely novel evening."
The Short List
Mark Bolton The Three Monkeys Australia
Dick Curran The Gareth Jones Memorial Theatre UK
Ron Hotz Maimonides Canada
Peter Lyons Rumplestiltskin Scotland
Ray Ridgewell The Illusion UK
Chip Tolson Father's Birthday UK
Triumphant premiére, on the 25th October, of the winning 2006 International Yeovil Stage Play
"The Gareth Jones Memorial Theatre"
written by Dick Curran
Produced by
Bruce James Productions Ltd at the Octagon Theatre, Yeovil
The first night of the world premiére of the winning play by Dick Curran, The Gareth Jones Memorial Theatre, at The Octagon Theatre in Yeovil was a triumph!
The Gareth Jones Memorial Theatre was judged the winner of the International Yeovil Stage Play Prize 2006 by a panel including Julian Fellowes, Oscar winning screenwriter of Gosford Park. It is a witty and engaging comedy drama about an amateur theatre group who have the chance to hit the big time thanks to a bequest from a deceased former member. The only condition is they have to perform his play (about himself) and rename the local theatre after him. The stakes are further raised for the regulars when a young professional actor is recruited to join the cast. In the run up to opening night, emotions run high, egos clash, and a small army of skeletons come marching out of cupboards.
Dick Curran travelled from his home in Newcastle to attend the final rehearsals and see his play performed professionally by Bruce James Productions Ltd. Dick says, 'I learned such a lot from director Bruce James, and hardly know how to explain what winning The Yeovil Stage Play Prize has meant to me. To see it coming alive during rehearsals, to meet Julian and Emma Fellowes and so many literary celebrities at the reception; to talk to Margaret Graham, Writer in Residence and Jim Mitchell, the administrators of the competition, and to have the support of Grant Sellen, Artistic Manager of The Octagon Theatre was brilliant.'

Julian Fellowes said of The Gareth Jones Memorial Theatre ...
"I must give the winning ticket to The Gareth Jones Memorial Theatre because it might easily have been written by someone making their living in this field. It offers complete mastery of the character narrative, and genuinely character defining dialogue. It is full of parts that are worth playing and is the most satisfying journey in terms of the various characters' arcs. "

Alongside Julian and Emma Fellowes were authors Lynne Reid Banks, Sarah Challis, Steve Voake, Paul Hyland, Penny Deacon, June Wyndham Davies, all keen supporters of the Yeovil Community Arts Association which administers the Yeovil Literary Prize and the Yeovil Stage Play Prize which raise funds for the creative arts and provide real support in the South Somerset area.

After the prize giving ceremony in which Dick was presented with an engraved frame and Julian Fellowes with a painting by Malcolm Elliott, Margaret Graham said, 'It is heartening that in the two short years we have been running the Yeovil Literary Prize with its categories of novel, short story and poetry, we have been able to add the Yeovil Stage Play Prize, which from now on will be a biennial event. We hope that we have launched Dick Curran on a professional career, that that the winners of our Yeovil Literary Prize will achieve similar success. Sophie Duffy the winner of the Novel Category this year has been offered, and accepted, representation by an agent - so watch out for the name of this brilliant young author on the best seller lists.'