The Yeovil Literary Prize

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2012 Results

For full details of the results, choose a category:

Results Table Intro Novel Short Story Poetry

Novel Category

FIRST PRIZE - Susan Luddem

SECOND PRIZE - Rebecca Alexander

THIRD PRIZE - Tereza Murphy

Short Story Category

FIRST PRIZE - Graham Anderson

SECOND PRIZE - Chip Tolson

THIRD PRIZE - Gill Le Serve

Poetry Category

FIRST PRIZE - Claire Bugler Hewitt

SECOND PRIZE - Catherine Strong

THIRD PRIZE - Michael Bannister

The Yeovil Literary Prize, an international writing competition now nine years old, has become a firm favourite for many writers and it was a pleasant surprise this year to see familiar names of authors in the short listing of each category. All entries are judged anonymously, and it is only after the short lists have gone to our judges that we check the website to see the names of the authors. In the novel category there were two previous winners. Both showed the judges the wide scope of their writing. Terri Armstrong won two years ago and has successfully published her book Standing Water . We had a taste of her next novel in the short list this year, and this is potentially another excellent read. Last year's winner, Sarah Hegarty, also showed her brilliance as a writer with a tense opening to what promises to be a thrilling story.

Novel Category

The novel category is a welcome opportunity for writers to enter a competition, with few other opportunities to enter a synopsis and the first three chapters of a novel. This year the judges were challenged to select the short list with so much good writing being considered. With many potential winners our judge, Sophie Hannah, had the same problem, but her choice of winners was excellent. Sophie commented:

'It was a great honour to be asked to judge the Yeovil Literary Prize, and all the shortlisted entries were genuinely appealing, with so much to offer.  It's rare to be spoilt for choice, but in this case, I really felt that I was.'

The publishing world is not as buoyant as it was a few years ago, so the prospect of having an agent and publisher seems almost beyond reach. Even some exceptional writers have taken a long time to be recognised and published. However there is always hope as some of our past finalists have undertaken publishing their work as eBooks, with considerable success. Also, previous winner Sophie Duffy has just had her second book published by Legend Press, so look out for The Holey Life to share in her success.

Short Story Category

The short stories are always an absolute joy to read. The twists and turns of the tight plotting and characterisation is stimulating and intriguing at the same time. With so many subjects explored and so many styles of writing, it is challenging to select the shortlist. This year it was particularly arduous as there were so many possible winners. Our judge, Sue Freestone, with many years of experience in the publishing world said:

'In general the themes covered were delightfully varied and the literary techniques employed by the writers also showed a wide and interesting range. The Prize was a pleasure to judge. Original short story writing is clearly thriving in the South West.'

The Yeovil Community Arts Association, (YCAA), which administers the Yeovil Literary Prize, may be based in the beautiful southwest of England, but the competition attracts entries from all around the world, allowing us to hear voices from other cultures.

Poetry Category

Once again, there were some familiar names in the poetry category short list who must be congratulated on consistently good poetry. Our well respected judge, Louis de Bernières, enjoyed all the short-listed poems. To have a poem described as:

‘...possibly the most original love poem I have ever read...'

is a particularly inspiring comment for its author. One Highly Commended poem, written by Rosie Garland, revived a holiday memory for Louis after reading Exchange Rate . You can read Louis's comments about the winning poems by clicking on the heading to the right.

This year it has been a pleasure to read all the entries and we are looking forward to word spreading amongst writers everywhere of this important, international writing competition with its significant prizes. We know that agents and publishers read our website and follow our competition, which gives those who are recognised further chances of success.

The 2013 Yeovil Literary Prize

Opens on New Year's Day 2013, so you can start writing over the Christmas break to be ready to enter. The competition closes on 31 st May 2013. It is well known that the Yeovil Literary Prize encourages writers of all genres, so the best of luck to you all.

Our prestigious judges for 2013 will be novelist Tracy Chevalier , for the novel category, Julia Churchill , of Greenhouse Literary Agency, who will judge the short stories, and Neil Astley , highly respected poet of Bloodaxe Books, who will read every poem submitted.

the Judging Team

There were 296 entries in the NOVEL category for 2012.

Sophie Hannah, our judge for the Novels, had this to say about the entries this year…

'It was a great honour to be asked to judge the Yeovil Literary Prize, and all the shortlisted entries were genuinely appealing, with so much to offer.  It's rare to be spoilt for choice, but in this case, I really felt that I was.'


First Prize – The Betty Bolingbroke-Kent Award
Susan Luddem Getting Away With It  

Susan lives in Stockport (where this novel is set) with her husband and two children. In 2011 she completed an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester University and since then has received a highly commended in the 2011 Commonwealth Short Story Competition and been shortlisted for the 2011-2012 Fish Short Story Prize. Getting Away With It is her first novel and she says writing it has been a great learning experience. She is surprised and delighted to be the winner of the Yeovil Prize and hopes that it will bring her closer to getting her novel published. She is currently working on her second novel.

Sophie said … “Winner: Getting Away With It  - I loved this because it's emotionally and psychologically ambitious, has a strong, compelling authorial voice, and is a psychological crime novel that gets right to the heart of why people do harm to one another.  I liked the fact that the killer/baddie is not demonised, but rather shown to the reader in all her flawed complexity, so that we can't help identifying with her.  A brilliant, brave idea, very well executed.”
Second Prize
Rebecca Alexander A Baby's Bones  

Rebecca Alexander started writing five years ago after a long break, and completed two Open University courses before tackling an MA in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Winchester. A Baby's Bones is the fifth book she has completed, and the most fun to write. She has worked in psychology and education, and her previous book, The Secrets of Life and Death , which was a runner up in the Mslexia novel competition, is now represented by an agent. She lives with her family in a house dramatically perched on a hill near the coast of North Devon and can be contacted through her blog

Sophie said … Second Place: A Baby's Bones - an excellent, richly imagined and deftly plotted story that keeps revealing new layers as it progresses. The weaving together of present and past is expertly done, and the authorial voice is confident and sophisticated.  All the different elements are woven together perfectly here: story, character development, setting and atmosphere. 
Third Prize
Tereza Murphy Smoke and Mirrors  

Tereza was born, lived and worked in London before moving to a small holding in Cambridgeshire five years ago. When she isn't working or caring for her horse and other animals, Tereza loves watching films, going to the theatre, travelling and reading.

She loved writing at school but then life, travelling and a career as a Business Analyst took over. About two years ago, Tereza took up her pen again and wrote a few short stories, with ‘The Final Chapter' winning the La Scala Studios Short Story competition. She then started developing ideas for a series of novels.

The crime thriller ‘Smoke and Mirrors' is Tereza's first novel and she is absolutely delighted that Sophie Hannah chose the opening chapters for third place in the Yeovil Literary Prize. It has always been Tereza's dream to write a novel and she is thoroughly enjoying immersing herself in developing the characters and weaving the plot.

Sophie said … Third Place: Smoke and Mirrors - a confidently written and unusual thriller that was very readable and hard to put down, with a plot that's just intricate enough without being too complicated. The organised crime element of the story is nicely balanced by the emotional heart of the book: the relationship between a woman and her horse.

Highly Commended
Julia North Hands of Blood
Terri Armstrong How Is It You Live?
Amanda Oosthuizen The Cherrywood Box
Miriam Burke A Splash Of Words
Sarah Hegarty Beyond the Forest
Judy Walker The Narrows
Deepa Anappara The Things You Will Never Have
Dina Bogecho The Watamu Affair
Eric Yeaman Yo-Ho-Ho-Hosanna
Sinead Mulready Going Back
Mark Woodward Mouseman
Neal Mason A Wisp of Brute Force
Fionna Barr The Darkness Within
There were 386 SHORT STORIES entered in this category.

Our judge Sue Freestone , who has great experience in the publishing world, had this to say…

“In general the themes covered were delightfully varied and the literary techniques employed by the writers also showed a wide and interesting range. The Prize was a pleasure to judge. Original short story writing is clearly thriving in the South West.”
First Prize
Graham Anderson Story Time  

Graham Anderson

Graham Anderson read modern languages at Cambridge and began his writing career on the book pages of City Limits, also reviewing fiction for The Independent and The Sunday Telegraph. His mainstream work has been as a theatre translator. He has published The Figaro Plays (Beaumarchais) and A Flea in her Ear (Feydeau) with Oberon Books, and his versions of classic and contemporary French plays have been used by the NT and the Gate Theatre and performed in the UK and US. A draft chapter for a novel, Letters From a Madman , the imaginary autobiography of Guy de Maupassant, was short-listed for the Aidan Higgins Prize in Dublin, and after completing his last commission, an obscure play by Marivaux, he turned this year to writing short fiction. Graham was born in London and has spent most of his working life there. He now lives in Oxfordshire.

Our judge Sue Freestone said… First Prize is STORY TIME

‘Tell us a story!' is the first line of this winning piece of work and the narrator certainly does. He takes us on an emotional journey, playing with the reader's assumptions about him, and his supposed audience, to the very end. The reader gets a terrific kick in the stomach when the real nature of what has been happening is shockingly revealed. It is a beautifully structured and dramatic piece, punching above its size, as the best short stories do.

Second Prize
Chip Tolson Island Summer  

Chip Tolson

Chip says, “Getting recognition in a literary competition is a huge boost to one's writing endeavours particularly in an International competition such as the Yeovil Literary Prize.

I've enjoyed reading – slow as a child, years behind my peers – and writing since school days, but life intervened. After early years in Somerset, National Service, and thirty years in the shipowning industry living and working in the Far East and Edinburgh, my wife and I returned to the West Country to enjoy a small holding on Exmoor. This gave me my opportunity to gain an MA in Creative Writing at Middlesex University in 2002, since when I have concentrated on writing workshops, an OU playwriting course and competitions covering the novel, short stories, film scripts and plays.

Some short stories have got into print, a few of my small plays have appeared on even smaller stages in London and New York, and I'm working on a radio play for the centenary, in July 2016, of the first morning of the Battle of the Somme.

Like many who write and meet with fellow scribblers at writers' groups I have two novels in want of a publisher.”

Our judge Sue Freestone said… Second Prize ISLAND SUMMER

A close second, this story really gives you your money's worth. It has great atmosphere, engaging characters, an event packed narrative and warm humour throughout. The author takes us into an innocent world, a childhood place apart where nothing too serious can happen. A real feel good story, an antidote to today's troubled times.

Third Prize
Gill Le Serve A Stale Bun  

Gill Le Serve

Gill Le Serve studied English at Leicester University and is now retired, having spent many years teaching, mainly English as a Foreign Language to children and adults, in Europe and finally in Vietnam, which was a wonderful experience. Never having done any writing before other than the occasional poem, she was encouraged to ‘have a go' after attending a Creative Writing course at a local community centre earlier this year. The title ‘A Stale Bun' came from a homework task on that course which she then developed further. She is thrilled with the success of this piece and will now thoroughly enjoy exploring more ideas.

She has three grown-up children and lives in Dorset with her husband and a golden retriever called Raffles. They are eagerly expecting their first grandchild .

Our judge Sue Freestone said… Third prize A STALE BUN

A classic short story where the twist at the end makes you completely review what you have understood before. The bleak subject matter, the chaos of armed civil conflict, is handled with an admirable economy of writing and plot. The third person narrative is compelling and carries the reader through the war-torn landscape to the surprise at the end. A clever conceit and a worthy third.

Highly Commended
John Hargreaves

Speak for Yourself John

Gerard Duffy Taking Care of Tolly
Beryl Brown Changing Lines
Gillian Wallbanks The Persecution of Peter
Norman Kitching

Behind the Smile

Michael Roe An Equation For Justice
J. A. Brooks More Than A Butterfly
Carol Lovejoy Edwards The Glass Fish
Ruth Driscoll For Gracie
Chip Tolson Everyone Is Talking About It
Karla Dearsley Blind Alleys
Suzanne Furness From Byron to Shelley
Emma Seaman

Roses All The Way

There were 337 entries in the POETRY category for 2012.

Louis de Bernière, our Poetry judge, enjoyed the entries this year and below are his comments on the three winning poems…

First Prize
Claire Bugler Hewitt Chawton  

Claire Bugler Hewitt is delighted to win this prize as she was born in Yeovil, grew up in East Coker and went to Yeovil's Preston Comprehensive and Yeovil College. With a degree in Graphic Design & Illustration from Bristol Polytechnic she spent some years in London, working part time at Guy's Hospital and joining various writing groups and courses including that of the wonderful Julia Casterton. Claire has been a prize winner in the Ian St James Awards (short fiction) and her haiku have been widely published in journals and anthologies, including in translation. She is a judge in the Seashells Game for Haiku (Presence Magazine) and a member of Critique Circle online. She lives in Dorset with her husband and two children, is revising her first novel and working on science fiction short stories and letters of objection to Yeovil's Core Strategy Urban Extension Plan.

Our judge, Louis to Berniére said,

“Number one is Chawton. This poem would be utterly obscure to anyone who doesn't know about Jane Austen, but if you do, it is absolutely right. It is an exact, simple, direct description. The accumulation of things, both present and missing, conjures up her life perfectly, as well as her horrible early death.

Second Prize
Catherine Strong Kangerlua  

Catherine Strong

Catherine Strong writes under her maiden name, Catherine Sarah Lewis, and grew up in East Sussex in the 1970s, and her earliest memories are of being read a wonderful variety of stories and poetry. After graduating in Zoology from Nottingham University, she studied for a Master's in Behavioural Ecology, which she passed with distinction; her passion for the natural world is reflected in her current job working for Naturetrek, a wildlife travel company, as well as in her poetry. Catherine enjoys travelling, watching wildlife, and long summer evenings outside on her ‘beach' garden, chatting with friends and family. She attended the MPhil in Writing at the University of Glamorgan, and is a member of the Company of Writers, a writing group based in Bath, where she lives.

Further information about Catherine and her writing can be found at
Our judge, Louis to Berniére said,

Number two is Kangerlua, possibly the most original love poem I have ever read. Again, the ending is particularly strong.

Third Prize
Michael Bannister The Lapidary  

Michael Bannister

Mike Bannister was born 1936 in Alvechurch, in Worcestershire. After military service he worked in community schools in Telford, London's East End and Bradford. In 1993, Mike retired to live in Halesworth, Suffolk. In the same year his poem A Fourth Warming was nominated for the Housman Society's Poetry Prize.

Mike's poems have appeared in The London Magazine, Other Poetry, The Long Poem Magazine and Brittle Star; others have garnered a number of regional awards. Mike is currently chair and convener of The Café Poets, a bi-monthly gathering of working poets from across the region, based at Pinky's Café in his home town.

Two previous publications: Greenstreet Fragments - Orphean Press 2003, and Pocahontas in Ludgate , - Arrowhead Press 2007. His third and latest anthology, The Weir of Orinsay, Poems New and Selected , requires a publisher.
Our judge, Louis to Berniére said,

Number Three is 'The Lapidary'. It shows an ear for the music of words, and also a relish for them. It is skilfully put together, with lots of enjambment and interesting juxtapositions. The last verse, and particularly the last line, is very striking.

Highly Commended
Judith Fursland Shelling Peas
Andrew Tomkinson The Oxford Companion
Susie Fisher Dandelion Diagnosis
Rosie Garland Exchange Rate
Gillian Dunstan Vision
Patricia McCaw Feeding a Rescued Gannet
Sue Belfrage Waking
Gabriel Griffin Holi-holy-day
Blanche Sears Negative Equity
Sharon Keating Chanticleer's Egg
Sharon Black On The Line
Roger Iredale I-Raq
Sharon Keating Shrink
Gwen Seabourne Teenage Saturday Organ Practice
Hilary Davies Examination