Northern Writers’ Awards 2012 announced

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Eleven writers of prose and poetry were announced Northern Writers’ Awards winners at the annual awards ceremony, held on Wednesday 25 July at Northumbria University’s Great Hall in Newcastle.

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

At the awards ceremony, New Writing North chief executive Claire Malcolm announced that from October 2012 the Northern Writers’ Awards will be open to writers from across the north of England. The annual prize scheme for writers in the north east of England will now be available to those in the North West, Yorkshire and Humberside. With a new prize fund of £40,000 (increased from £25,000) and a new programme of awards and opportunities – from residencies to new opportunities for poets – the Northern Writers’ Awards are expanding in both horizon and scope.

The awards form a key strand of a new partnership between Northumbria University and New Writing North, which sees the university support the awards with the sum of £60,000 over the next two years. The development of this strategic partnership will see Northumbria University deliver on its ambition to be the pre-eminent university for new writing.

Potts Print (UK) also join as project sponsors, and through this will enable the awards publicity to become carbon neutral.

“The awards have a tremendous track record of spotting talented new writers in the North East,” said Claire Malcolm, chief executive of New Writing North. To be able to open the door to writers across the whole of the north of England is a very exciting next step for the awards and for New Writing North’s expansion to work across the greater northern area, which will happen over the next three years. Bringing Northumbria University on board as awards supporters will allow us to increase the prize money available to writers and to expand the possibilities we offer them.”

Winning writers 2012

The winning writers for the 2012 awards are from all over the North East and are writing a wide variety of books. Andrew Hankinson, from Newcastle, received a Time to Write Award for his non-fiction work on Raoul Moat; while Linda France, who lives in Hexham, Northumberland, was given the Andrew Waterhouse Award for her poetry collection, Botanical. Jane Wood, also from Newcastle, was the recipient of the Andrea Badenoch Fiction Award – awarded every year to a woman writer over the age of 42 in memory of the gifted Newcastle novelist – for her novel-in-progress, Michael.

Three poets, four novelists and one short story writer received Northern Promise Awards for new and promising regional writers. Joanne Clement from Darlington, Phoebe Walker from Hexam, Northumberland, and John Challis from Gateshead all received their awards for their respective poetry collections. Wendy McArdle, also from Gateshead, obtained the award for her children’s novel in progress, Bugbear. Newcastle-based Karon Alderman is likewise writing a children’s novel, For Keeps, as is Gail P Hildreth from Northumberland, whose fantasy adventure, Legend Heroes, impressed the judges. Carmen Davis, from Saltburn, Teeside, is working on her adult novel, How Saints Die, which explores mental breakdown and the effects of electroshock therapy in the 1960s; and finally, Amanda Robson, from North Shields, won an award for her debut collection of short stories.


Two new patrons were also unveiled for the awards: the Booker Prize-winning novelist Pat Barker (based in Durham) and acclaimed poet Simon Armitage (based in Yorkshire), both of whom admire the principle of supporting talented new writers early in their careers.

“To an emerging writer, an award of this kind can often be the difference between carrying on and giving up, and can be a huge boost to confidence as well as providing financial backing,” said Simon Armitage. “Many writers, like myself, can look back to an award or bursary at an early stage in their career as being the pivotal moment, one that gave them the courage and means to continue.”

The 2013 Northern Writers’ Awards will open for entries in October 2012 and the deadline will be 31 January 2013.