The Yeovil Literary Prize

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Recent Successes

Read about our most recent successes.

welcome to the

2011 Results

For full details of the results, choose a category:

Results Table Intro Novel Short Story Poetry

Novel Category

FIRST PRIZE - Sarah Hegarty

SECOND PRIZE - Barbara Morton

THIRD PRIZE - Peter Harper

Short Story Category

FIRST PRIZE - Gill Wallbanks


THIRD PRIZE - Suzanne Ellis

Poetry Category

FIRST PRIZE - Andy Miller

SECOND PRIZE - Maeve Henry

THIRD PRIZE - Roger Wild

The YCAA were unsure what to expect in this our eighth year of the Yeovil Literary Prize, as the economic climate has been dire for many people worldwide. In fact, beyond our wildest expectations, writers across the globe have risen above the doom and gloom with their excellent writing; they lifted their spirits, put pens to paper and revved up their computers. What a terrific response we have had in this truly international writing competition.

The writing in each of the categories was of a very high standard with subjects, challenging on the one hand, and evocative on the other. The annual task of judging work of such wonderful diversity was, as in previous years, a pleasurable but difficult task. Quality will always set a benchmark, but when so many are achieving that level, some very hard decisions have to be made.

In this our eighth year, we had approximately 1,000 entries, using the easy on-line process, as well as the time-honoured postal entry, with both methods being popular for their own reasons. We even welcome hand-written entries, for those who are still averse to technology. We were very pleased to receive some excellent feedback on our website; its ease of use was commended and your comments have been passed to our webmaster. Thank you. Obviously, if you encountered any problems, then we would like to hear from you.

As you know, the Yeovil Literary Prize encourages writers of all genres, with the scarce opportunity for novelists to enter. Last year, we were thrilled to have a young adult novel achieve Highly Commended status and, we now know, that this particular work is currently with an agent. This year, we encountered a dystopian novel, a hugely popular genre at the moment, and were delighted when our esteemed judge, Katharine McMahon, selected it for First place in the Novel category. For a writer to bring a possible, and terrifying future, to our attention, by using imagination and thought-provoking scenarios, is amazing. This particular novel, was extremely well written and we now know our winning novelist is enjoying success with her writing.

Katharine commented on the overall standard of the short list. “I was surprised and delighted by the quality of the writing as I was transported from Ancient Rome, to early twentieth century Germany, to a dystopian novel set in 2130. I judged firstly on sheer readability and narrative drive, then I looked for character development, rigorous editing and use of dialogue. I felt all the pieces had great potential and it was tough picking three. All of these entries were written with great assurance and an excellent command of narrative voice, pace and language. One little gripe - I wasn't mad on any of the titles (speaking as one who's hopeless at naming a book...)”

So, here we can learn how important it is to get our titles right – they need to grab the reader's attention and lead to the heart of the novel.

A good piece of advice for all writers. Thank you Katharine for your excellent judgements.

When the letter and email arrive, to say that your work has won this prestigious writing competition, all those solitary hours spent writing suddenly seem worthwhile. So, imagine how exciting it will be to see your work in print. For the first time this year, we have sought permission from the short-listed poetry and short story entrants, to include their work in an Anthology. We will be working with a specialist to publish this book, and news of the date it will be available will be on the website as soon as practicable. There will be a tick box on the entry form next year, so entrants can say whether they agree to their work appearing in an Anthology, or not. It is with great pride and satisfaction that we see the Yeovil Literary Prize growing in stature each year.

This year Mark Lucas, of LAW Literary Agency, was our judge of the Short Story category.

Mark made his judgement with these comments. “There's a great deal of inventiveness on display, and some fine, atmospheric writing. Structural shortcomings sometimes undermine the intensity of the experience, so I've found myself drawn particularly to those stories that create a deeply felt and consistently framed world, and populate it with tangible, fully-fleshed characters whose unfolding experiences create both a highly personal connection and a universal resonance.”

That is sound advice to writers mastering the art of writing short stories. With word count restrictions, Mark has encouraged us with some valuable and constructive tips. Thank you Mark, for all your comments and excellent choice of winners.

Poetry is often considered a very personal experience, using the written word to express feelings on every aspect of life. The quality of the entries this year was excellent and covered so many subjects.

Our judge for the Poetry category was Daisy Goodwin. Daisy is well known as a poet and also a television programme producer. She commented “ Thank you for asking me. I thought the standard was gratifyingly high.” Thank you Daisy and we love your choice of winners.

The Yeovil Literary Prize is judged anonymously and it is always a thrill, when the judges have made their final decisions, to see who has won. We have regular entrants and to see those writers succeed, shows what optimism, determination and consistent good writing can achieve.

The next step is publication, so we'd love to hear any good news stories from people who have entered in previous years and are on the road to an agent and ultimate publication. A previous winner of the novel category, Sophie Duffy, is currently busy doing the rounds of book signing, and Jackie Gingell is finishing off her second novel, following her success as Highly Commended in the Yeovil Literary Prize a couple of years ago.

Our judges for next year, are novelist and poet, Louis de Berniére for the Poetry category; Sue Freestone, who has enormous experience in the publishing world, will judge the Short Story category. For the Novel category, we have Sophie Hannah who certainly knows the secrets of successful novel writing.

The 2012 Yeovil Literary Prize, opens on 1 st January, so watch out for the website going live on New Year's Day. We wish you all a year of good writing and look forward to reading your entries. The closing date is 31 st May 2012.

the Judging Team

We had 292 entries in the Novel category and these are the winners.

Our judge, Katharine McMahon said she was surprised and delighted by the quality of the writing as she was transported from Ancient Rome, to early twentieth century Germany, to a dystopian novel set in 2130. She judged firstly on sheer readability and narrative drive, then looked for character development, rigorous editing and use of dialogue. She felt all the pieces had great potential and that it was tough picking three.

All of the short-listed entries were written with great assurance and an excellent command of narrative voice, pace and language.

Katharine added one piece of vital advice to all writers – she had one little gripe - she wasn't mad on any of the titles (speaking as one who's hopeless at naming a book... she added)


First Prize
Sarah Hegarty The Ash Zone  
Katharine McMahon comments (this is an extract): "This novel was set in Britain, 2130, after a devastating Volcanic eruption. I found it an extremely accomplished piece of work in which the dystopia envisaged is both horribly engaging to the reader, and authentic. I wanted to learn more about the past and the future. There was a nice balance of description and narrative drive; a society was described through what should have been the deeply personal domestic event of pregnancy, so the potential for deepening relationships and characterisation was very tantalising, and gave the novel warmth it might otherwise have been lacking. The scope of this novel was particularly impressive - and created a richly textured world."
Sarah Hegarty

Biography: Sarah Hegarty was born in Bristol, and grew up in the north-west. After graduating in Modern Chinese Studies from Leeds University she worked as a journalist, latterly freelancing for newspapers and magazines. She left journalism to start a family, and studied part-time for an MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University. Her short fiction has been published in Mslexia, on the web (at ) and in the forthcoming Momaya Annual Review. . The Ash Zone is her first novel, and draws on her life in Beijing in 1980. She is working on her second novel. She lives in Guildford with her family.

Second Prize
Barbara Morton Mrs Jones  
Katharine McMahon comments (this is an extract): "A detective thriller set in New York. This won second place on pace, readability, plot and the sustained quality of the writing. The cop's point of view was wry and fascinating, and the reader's interest and sympathy was sustained through little unfoldings of character. Dialogue was well used to develop plot and character. I had a real sense that the novel was going somewhere fast. The novel was true to a very specific genre but avoided cliché by its lively voice and engaging central characters. "

Barbara Morton

Biography: I'm a new writer with no literary training or background but with a passion for reading and scribbling. After selling up and escaping to rural Northumberland 3 years ago, I finally had the opportunity to give my imagination full rein and Mrs Jones, my first novel is the result. I work part time in the village surgery, amidst the spectacular scenery of the National Park and share my life with family, friends and a collection of animals. I am currently working on my second book.

I can't ride a bike or drive a car and computers are a mystery to me, but I can tell a story, weave a plot, create a world and populate it with characters that other people care about...

Imagination is a marvellous thing...sharing it with others is even better.
Third Prize
Peter Harper The Indiscriminate Agenda  
Katharine McMahon comments (this is an extract): "This was a pacy action thriller set in El Salvador. I was impressed by the way the prologue worked here, and how the reader became deeply involved with the main protagonist. Although there was excellent use of historical and geographical research, neither was heavy-handed. The novel was multi-layered, the sweep of historical events a background to a deeply personal story. ”

Peter Harper

Biography: Peter has worked as a lodge porter at a post-graduate college in Oxford for the past twelve years. He became captivated by creative writing while toying with a short story, using the first person. He soon discovered, however, that he was more suited to the third person, particularly when it came to the project he had in mind, a character-driven story with topical international themes, political and philosophical, which would nonetheless slot into the thriller genre. Inspired, and in some cases spurred on by fellows and colleagues alike at the college where he works, The Indiscriminate Agenda finally began to see the light of day. He dedicates his good fortune in coming third in The Yeovil Literary Prize to family and friends, and in memory of his father - whose worldly insight, he says, essentially gave him the building blocks for his novel.

Highly Commended
Barbara Stevenson Potsdamer Platz
Sheila Bugler Child Pretending
Rosalind Minett Good For Him
Fred Nath Barbarian 1 : Warlord
Andrew Dawson Clan Fraser, Once Removed
Andy Hamilton The King's Choir Book
Jane Cali-Madell The Cost of Light
Jackie McLean Toxic
Collette Victor What to do with Lobsters in a Place Called Kraaifontein
Henriette Gyland Dead Men's Fingers
Yvonne Walus A Blessing of Unicorns
Paula McDonald Lost Myself
This year we had 390 entries in the Short Story category

Our judge, Mark Lucas, of the LAW Literary Agency, said…

“Many thanks for inviting me to judge the short story competition.  

There was a great deal of inventiveness on display, and some fine, atmospheric writing. Structural shortcomings sometimes undermine the intensity of the experience, so I've found myself drawn particularly to those stories that create a deeply felt and consistently framed world, and populate it with tangible, fully-fleshed characters whose unfolding experiences create both a highly personal connection and a universal resonance.”
First Prize
Gill Wallbanks I'll Go Soon  

Gill Wallbanks

Biography : I joined a Creative Writing Group at night school ten years ago that introduced to me the skills and the love of writing. The first story I submitted took third prize and was published in Graveyard Rendezvous ((the official organ of the Guy N. Smith Fan club). I'm currently writing a trilogy of crime novels but have yet to interest a literary agent. I also write with friends, ‘The Café Club Writers'. We publish three booklets a year, the proceeds going to the Macmillan Cancer Support Group. It's a great thrill to have won first prize of the Yeovil Literary Prize 2011 and makes all the dinners I've burnt whilst writing ‘just a few more lines' very worth while.

Our judge, Mark Lucas, made the following comment:- My winner is I'LL GO SOON.  I love its gentle humanity, its quiet optimism, the speed and precision with which I am allowed to become part of Harry's internal and external landscapes.  I not only share his experiences, I almost become him.  But what really sets it apart, as far as I am concerned, is the author's exploitation of the very constraints of the short story form -- to offer us a sharply focused lens through which we may view the fine detail of a hugely complex world.
Second Prize
Anne Ayres Lessons In Sign Language  

Anne Ayres

Biography : I was born in County Durham, brought up in Chester and now live in Caversham, Berkshire. I've had a varied working life- hotel receptionist, teaching assistant and secretary – the only constant being that I have always wanted “to write”. A chance ‘flyer' in a doctor's waiting room led me to enrol on a creative writing course at Reading University's School of Continuing Education and I was hooked! I write mainly short stories but also the occasional poem. My work has been included in anthologies published by Earlyworks Press. I am currently a member of the Earlyworks Press Writers and Reviewers Club as well as the Reading Library Writers' Group.

Our judge, Mark Lucas, made the following comment:- “ LESSONS IN SIGN LANGUAGE comes a close SECOND.  It shares many of these fine qualities, and conveys a tangible and affecting sense of the tensions that exist between Jason's foreshortened environment and the larger, perhaps more appealing but also more complex territory beyond.  It has a wonderfully elusive quality, a courageous refusal to tie every loose end, that forces the reader to revisit his narrow twelfth-floor balcony, to rail once more against his mother's all-too-familiar (and all-too-understandable) assumptions, and to yearn, as he does, for that signal from the world outside.”
Third Prize
Suzanne Ellis Night Visit  

Suzanne Ellis

Biography : After studying French and Law at university, I made a career in IT. I have recently moved to Devon, where I live with my new husband and have time to explore various interests, including writing. I have had a poem and a piece of flash fiction included in anthologies, but this is my first attempt at entering a short story of this length into a competition.

Our judge, Mark Lucas, made the following comment:-NIGHT VISIT reminds me pleasingly of my favourite Victorian ghost stories.  Its careful understatement enhances the flavour of the haunting, and the twist in its tail is the more satisfying because the author lures the reader into the protagonists' timeless landscape rather than sacrificing everything on the altar of surprise.”
Highly Commended
Cyril Bracegirdle

My Father Was A Super Spy

Francis Hayes Outrageous Fortune
Richard Lakin Bridge 39
Beth McDonough Pictures at an Exhibition
Eve Vamvas

Beautiful George

Suzy Brayne Redemption My Way
Mark Sheerin Flip Ya Mama
Marg Roberts In the Garden
Mark Wagstaff The Long View
Les Williams A Future for Luke
Paul McGuire Missing Moments
Elizabeth Doe What the Lightening Saw
Lorraine Blencoe


We had 314 poems entered in the Poetry category and the results are as follows.

Our judge, Daisy Goodwin, said Thank you for asking me.  I thought the standard was gratifyingly high” :

First Prize
Andy Miller Attempting To Interfere  

Andy Miller

Biography : ' Andy Miller has published articles in climbing and mountaineering journals, in She magazine and in a book on Bob Dylan. His poetry has also appeared in a range of magazines and has been twice commended in national competitions. The majority of his published writing, however, has been as an educational psychologist and a university professor. Since becoming semi-retired in 2008, he has moved away from technical and scientific writing and towards the more literary. Andy is a member of Nottingham Writers Studio, is working on his first novel, and is publishing an anthology of his previous work, ‘While Giants Sleep' via in autumn 2011. He was born and grew up in Weymouth, Dorset and now lives in Wirksworth, Derbyshire on the edge of the Peak District. '

Daisy Goodwin, commented that :- “ Attempting to Interfere  - I thought this poem had a distinctive voice – it created a particular moment and let the implications ripple outwards .  Mysterious but repaid careful reading.”
Second Prize
Maeve Henry Gobbled  

Biography : Maeve Henry lives in Oxford and works for a charity supporting refugees and asylum seekers. She grew up in a seaside town in the north east and, coming to Oxford to study English, never got round to leaving. She is the author of six children's books and has come back to poetry in middle age. She was shortlisted for the Iota International Poetry Competition and the Bridport Prize in 2009. Married with three children, her only regret in life is that Oxford is so far from the sea.

Daisy Goodwin, commented that :- “Gobbled – poignant reworking of fairytale images. Strongly realized and executed.”
Third Prize
Roger Wild Horse  
Roger Wild .

Biography I spent my childhood in Southall London where I wrote my first poems in 1969. Our small garden and Southall's oasis Osterley Park gave me a life-long interest in nature, the subject of many of my poems.

I have worked in factories, as a zoo keeper; for Bournemouth Parks and Royal Mail.

I have attended a writing group in Bournemouth since 1996 and have written a novel, to date unpublished. In 2008 I was invited to The Dunford Novelists Convention in Bournemouth and in 2010 reached round two of Brit Writers with my novel.

I am a member of the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association and The Poetry Society. The Yeovil Literary Prize third place is my first literary success.

For leisure, I look at the stars, go on long walks with my dogs and visit Scotland to climb the Munros.

Daisy Goodwin, commented that :- Horse is “a beautifully realized sonnet”
Highly Commended
Malcolm Watson Baby in a Blindfold with a Bow on Board
Frances Thompson Falling Asleep In Siberia
Roger Elkin Fallow Deer, Going Home
Noel Williams Refraction
Roderic Vincent Pink
Robert Peett London Paths
Clive Whitelock Pictures
Anna Wigley Familiars
Sam Jackson I Should. We Should, He Should.
Gabriel Griffin Thorn Apple
Joy Winkler Cemetery
Roger Iredale Coming To Bethlehem