The winners of the 2022 Northern Writers’ Awards were announced on Tuesday 5 July 2022.
Hachette Children's Novel Award
Karon has always loved children’s fiction. Interested in history and the lost and misremembered stories of place, she’s drawn to timeslip stories. She won the Andrea Badenoch Award 2017 and a Northern Promise Award 2012 for YA novels (unpublished). She believes in enjoying the process and never giving up.
Her published short stories for adults include ‘A Yellow Dress on Yee Wo Street’, (Gutter 24, 2021) ‘A Stitch in Time’ (Under the, 2019) ‘The Bone Garden’ (Writer’s Forum, 2019) and ‘The Millionaire’s Wife’ (Moth Publishing, 2015). She is also working on a crime novel.
Karon was born in Essex, grew up on Anglesey and lives and works in Newcastle upon Tyne. She is a dyslexia specialist and teaches English to teens and adults, and adult creative writing in a small FE college. She’s a member of the Gosforth writing group.
I’m delighted to be given the Hachette Children’s Novel Award. It’s a great encouragement to keep writing and to never give up hope that someone will enjoy reading your work.
Northern Writers' Award for Fiction
Based in Cumbria, Katie Hale is the author of a novel, My Name is Monster (Canongate, 2019), and two poetry pamphlets – and often writes about language, place, and stubborn women. She is a MacDowell Fellow, and has also undertaken residencies in the UK, Brussels and Tbilisi. She is a recent recipient of an Authors’ Foundation Grant, the 2022 Gulliver Travel Grant, and in 2021, she won a Northern Writers’ Debut Award for Poetry. She also writes for theatre and immersive digital performance and has featured on national television and radio. Her short fiction has been published in journals such as Hotel, Joyland and Under the Radar, and has been shortlisted for the Desperate Literature Prize, and longlisted for the Galley Beggar Press Prize and the BBC National Short Story Award. She is currently working on debut poetry collection, and a second novel. www.halekatie.com
I’m over the moon to have won a Northern Writers’ Award! The process of writing this novel (as with any book) has been full of hurdles and moments of self-doubt, so it makes such a difference when someone tells you it’s all worth it – like flagging in the latter part of a marathon, only to see a friendly face cheering you on towards the finish line. It isn’t just that the award provides support to live and write (though of course that’s hugely important!) but it’s also a much-needed confidence boost, in what is too often a solitary profession. Enormous thank you to the judges, and to New Writing North!
Northern Writers' Award for Poetry
Kit Fan is a poet, novelist and critic. His first book of poems, Paper Scissors Stone (2011), won the inaugural HKU International Poetry Prize. As Slow As Possible (2018) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and one of the Irish Times Books of the Year. He was shortlisted twice for the Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize. He has also won a Northern Writers’ Award for Fiction, the Times Stephen Spender Poetry Translation Prize, and a Poetry Editors’ Prize for Reviewing. His debut novel is Diamond Hill (2021).
I’m incredibly honoured to be awarded this year’s Northern Writers’ Award for Poetry for my next collection The Ink Cloud Reader. It means the world to me that my poems speak to this year’s judge Helen Mort, a poet I deeply admire. I can’t distinguish what is more important to me – being a poet or a resident in the north of England, as both forces have changed my life fundamentally and temperamentally. Thank you, New Writing North for supporting my writing, and Helen Mort and readers of the prize entries for recognising my poems.
Hannah Hodgson is a poet living with life limiting illness. Her work has been published by BBC Arts, The Poetry Society and Magma, amongst other outlets. She is a 2021 winner of the Poetry Business New Poets Prize and a 2020 Northern Writers Award for Poetry. She also received a prestigious Diana Legacy Award (given in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales) in 2021; only 20 are given worldwide every 2 years for Humanitarian and Social Action Work. Hannah has published three pamphlets, Dear Body (Wayleave Press, 2018) and Where I’d Watch Plastic Trees Not Grow (Verve, 2021) and Queen of Hearts (Poetry Business, 2022). Her first full collection, 163 Days, was published by Seren in March 2022. Proving to be a busy year, she has a further pamphlet ‘I always Fall in Love Inside Hospitals’ due from Broken Sleep Books in September. You can find more of her stuff here: @HodgsonWrites, hannahhodgson.com
I am absolutely flabbergasted to receive this award, from the wonderful New Writing North. Times are tough for all of those working within the arts, but especially for those who are disabled or belonging to other marginalised groups. As a disabled woman working today, the poetic is political, I often write about matters of life and death. When we look at Covid deaths, 60% have been disabled people. It’s good to know that, although oftentimes a very lonely pursuit, my work whilst navigating tough subjects still stands out for the form it is, the skill of writing poetry. I want to thank both Helen Mort for judging this prize, and New Writing North for funding it. It will give me something which is a rare but intangible resource: time to work on my poems, and also belief in each of my poems as a piece of art.
Suzanne Batty has published two poetry collections with Bloodaxe Books – States of Happiness (2018) and The Barking Thing (2007). Her debut pamphlet Shrink was a winner in The Poetry Business competition. Suzanne won The Poetry Society’s Anne Born Prize in its inaugural year. Her work has appeared in journals including The Poetry Review, Dream Catcher, The Rialto and The North. She is currently working on a new collection Syd and Other Poems, a theatre script The Ice House and is exploring combining poetry with other art forms – for example performance, collage and sound. Suzanne has taught creative writing at Sheffield Hallam University and in the community, particularly with people using mental health services. She is passionate about using creativity to support recovery from mental distress. She also writes and publishes short fiction. Suzanne was born in Devon and grew up in Manchester where she lives.
I am thrilled to receive a Northern Writers’ Award. It will give me time to focus on finishing my new poetry collection, help me to recover confidence in my work and re-establish connections in the writing community. After years of setbacks caused by illness and bereavement, this wonderful opportunity could not have come at a better time.
NorthBound Book Award
Julia Rampen is a Scottish-Canadian writer, poet, journalist and editor based in Liverpool. She spent many of her childhood holidays in Cumbria visiting her grandparents and drew on the stories she heard about the landscape while writing the novel. She began reporting on undocumented people and hostile environments after co-founding a Syrian storytelling project, Qisetna, and now works for IMIX, a charity which raises awareness of refugee rights in the media.
I’m totally overwhelmed to be awarded this prize. Writing this novel around a day job has not been easy, and I might have given up many times if not for the encouragement of friends and writing networks. I’m incredibly excited to have the chance to be published, and thrilled it’s through a publisher and prize that champions the North.
Researching the book was a journey of discovery, and I hope the book will be a gateway to some of the excellent reporting and memoirs that I was lucky enough to read across on my way.
Channel 4 Writing for Television Awards: Lime Pictures
Tom has written sketches and jokes for a wide range of topical shows such as DMs Are Open and Newsjack on BBC Radio 4 Extra, NewsRevue and The Treason Show. Tom has also written for the stage, with his short plays being performed at Alphabetti Theatre, Precious Cargo and Southwark Playhouse. His monologue Me and Me Dar was commissioned and recorded as part of Sea Sunderland. Most recently he was awarded a place on the Arts Council funded Drafted Scheme with Sunderland Culture to help complete his first full length play with an industry showing.
The Northern Writers’ Awards are one of the most prestigious awards you can win, and I was over the moon to be shortlisted, but to win is life changing. When I started watching Hollyoaks many years ago I never thought I would ever get a chance to write for the show and it’s amazing to think that I now get to go on a placement there. I will never stop pinching myself and I cannot wait to throw myself into the opportunity at Lime.
Channel 4 Writing for Television Awards: Rollem Productions
Natalie Beech is a writer based in Manchester. Her debut play Collegiate had two sold-out runs in London and Leicester and her work has been selected for several scratch nights, with plays performed at theatres including the Arcola, the Pleasance, the Bread and Roses Theatre and Attenborough Arts Centre. In 2017 she graduated from City University’s Playwriting and Screenwriting MA and has since received commissions from organisations including the international HeforShe campaign, De Montfort University and the University of Leicester to write films and plays about sexism, gender-based violence and domestic violence, based on the testimonies of real people.
I’m thrilled to have been selected for this award; it’s hard to explain how much it means to me. I’ve been writing television scripts for years and have only dreamt of opportunities like this, so to have my writing recognised in this way is overwhelming and I’m beyond delighted. It just goes to show that you never know what can happen when you put your work out there. I can’t wait to get started!
Channel 4 Writing for Television Awards: Bonafide Films
Natalie Mirosch is a writer of Ukrainian-German descent who was born and bred in Rotherham. The first of her family to go to university it was here that she unlocked her passion for screenwriting using her spare time alongside her degree in Forensic Science to take free online scriptwriting classes. She has since written a number of short film and television scripts, audio plays and self-described crap poetry. In 2021 she won a place on the inaugural Sky Writes screenwriting programme produced by Sky Studios in association with New Writing North. With a passion for representation, her writing aims to tell authentic stories that move the needle.
I can’t put into words what it means for me to win this award. What it will do for me not only in a professional sense but on a personal level regarding my confidence as a writer is ineffable.
Northern Debut Award for Fiction
Gráinne O’Hare is originally from Belfast and is currently an English Literature PhD candidate of eighteenth-century studies at Newcastle University. Her fiction has been published by Severine and Púca Magazine. She has also been shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize (2020) and the RTE Radio 1 Short Story Competition (2021). Her story ‘Like to a Double Cherry’ came third in the 2021 Benedict Kiely Short Story Competition. She is currently working on her first collection of short fiction.
I’m honoured and absolutely delighted to receive a Northern Debut Award for Fiction; my head is on fire with stories that I can’t wait to tell and I’m so looking forward to working more on these in the coming year.
Northern Debut Award for Narrative Non-Fiction
Stephanie Gavan is a writer from Liverpool with a background in contemporary art. She writes about visual culture, cities, social movements, magic, desire, class and much more. She’s had many past lives: as a dirty wayward girl, a crybaby painter, as co-editor of feminist zine Queen of the Track, and a school teacher in Italy. Her work has been featured in Dazed, The Quietus, CIRCA, Corridor8, The Double Negative and Montez Press Radio, among others. She’s recently completed her MA in Writing at the Royal College of Art and is currently working on a collection of essays that deep dive into the symbolic economy of her most unruly home city.
I’m thrilled to receive this award. The mentoring, bursary and community it will provide has come at a critical stage in my writing career; much needed resources to complete my first long form work and offer a solid foundation from which to approach larger, more ambitious works in the future.
Northern Debut Award for Young Adult Fiction
Anna (she/they) is a twenty-one-year-old queer and neurodivergent writer from a small town in Lancashire. They have a degree in psychology and currently work in TV and film as a writer, editor, and researcher. They’ve written short films, poetry, and non-fiction pieces, but their main love is for writing fiction. She’s written three young-adult contemporary novels and is always planning something new. She loves writing about chaotic people navigating the world and finding the people who love them because of who they are and not in spite of it. She’s passionate about writing things that she wishes she could have read growing up, from the serious and heartfelt to the joyful, funny, and oftentimes ridiculous. Although usually found hunched over their laptop surrounded by books, they can also (occasionally) be found roaming around the countryside and trying to befriend the local wildlife, stress-baking cookies, or watching period dramas.
I’m overjoyed to have been selected for the Northern Writers’ Awards. Writing is the thing I love the most, and it means the absolute world that someone else out there has read and enjoyed something I’ve written.
Northern Debut Awards for Poetry
Gregory Kearns is a poet based in Liverpool who has been published in Introduction X: The Poetry Business Book of New Poets, Bath Magg and Ink, Sweat and Tears. He has worked on projects with organisations like English Heritage, Tmesis Theatre, No Dice Collective and is on the board of directors at The Writing Squad.
Gregory is currently working on his debut collection which will be about grief, masculinity and most importantly otters.
When looking at previous winners, it is like looking at the pantheon of exceptional writers in the North. To know I’m being added to the catalogue of winners is surreal and incredibly validating. My submission represents many years of hard work and as a dyslexic writer it’s great to know that, not only does someone else understand my poems, but that somewhere as prestigious as the Northern Writers’ Awards think my work is worth supporting.
Nicky Kippax is a poet from York. Her work can be found in many anthologies and magazines – including, most recently, Poetry News, The Rialto and The Alchemy Spoon – and has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, the Bath Fiction Prize and the Live Canon International Poetry Prize. Nicky recently completed a Masters in Creative Writing at York St John University where she was awarded the final project prize and where she now teaches creative writing for adults who use mental health services. She is also a mum to two children, runs a family bakery and is editing her first collection.
Winning a Northern Writers’ Award is massively thrilling – I had to read the email quite a few times before it sank in! The bursary will allow me to take some valuable breathing space away from my day job and I’m really excited about what the mentoring will bring to my development as a writer. The award means such a lot right now especially, because it has given me the confidence to continue with my poetry at a time when other life events could easily have taken over. I’m hugely grateful and can’t wait to get started.
Northern Debut Award for Poetry: Out-Spoken Press Programme
Elizabeth Chadwick Pywell
Elizabeth Chadwick Pywell is a poet living in York, North Yorkshire. She has been published in journals such as Fourteen Poems, Impossible Archetype and Dreich, and her first pamphlet, Unknown, was co-written with fellow York poet, Anna Rose James, and published in 2021. Her second pamphlet, Breaking (Out), about re-examining sexuality in middle age, was published in 2022 by Selcouth Station Press. She is currently working on a collection about womanhood, ancestry and landscape.
I’m absolutely delighted to have won this award – it’s incredibly exciting to know that the judges saw potential in my manuscript and having this kind of affirmation gives me hope that my poems are beginning to say something worth saying. I’m so grateful for the opportunity and cannot wait to access the support and mentoring that New Writing North and Out-Spoken Press are offering.
Andrea Badenoch Award
Ally North writes adult and YA fiction, musicals and comics. She studied MA playwriting with David Edgar and went on to work as a fishmonger, kilt saleswoman, performing arts teacher, barmaid, ghost tour guide, call centre operative and pub chef before becoming a professional writer of marketing copy for a gardening company. Originally from Durham, she now lives in York with her three children.
I’ve been writing all my life and wondering whether it wouldn’t just be easier to watch TV or figure out what Sudoku was. I’m thrilled to win the Andrea Badenoch Award, because it’s the most incredible boost! It’s given me renewed confidence that my writing is going in the right direction and with the help of New Writing North, I can’t wait to take the next steps.
Northumbria University Student and Alumni Award
Susannah Ronnie works across poetry, playwriting, book art and textiles. Her focus is the fictionalising of history and she has engaged with periods as diverse as the Stone Age, seventeenth century and WWII. Susannah’s poems have been published in Mslexia, Other Poetry, Smoke and Ink, Sweat and Tears. A poetry pamphlet Digging Up the Dead (Red Squirrel Press, 2014) explores her maternal grandparents’ wartime experiences. Susannah’s Mesolithic play After the Ice was commissioned by Queen’s Hall Arts in Hexham and supported by a Hosking Houses Trust residency. Her short scripts have been staged at Live Theatre and Octagon Theatre Bolton. Susannah recently completed a practice-led Creative Writing PhD fully-funded by Northumbria University. The resulting creative work with out end fuses research, poetry and the artists book to imagine and interrogate events surrounding the mutiny on Henry Hudson’s final voyage in the form of a deck of playing cards.
I still haven’t quite come back down to earth! It’s an amazing feeling to have the quality of my work recognised and the support to develop that work for publication will be invaluable.
Sid Chaplin Award
Andrew Ballantyne (Winner)
Andrew has spent the last ten years working on writing fiction, in which time he has drafted three manuscripts. He grew up on a council estate in the North East and went on to study Sociology at Durham University. He is fascinated by the ways in which people from working-class backgrounds interact with broader socio-political frameworks, something that strongly influences the themes he explores in his work. Andrew is a proud Teessider and still lives in his hometown.
Being an unpublished writer that explores underrepresented working-class voices is hard. The industry was starting to seem impenetrable to me. Winning the Sid Chaplin Award is therefore invaluable, as it seeks to help people in my exact situation. I can’t wait to get started on the next step of this journey.
Sid Chaplin Award (Highly Commended)
Ruskin Smith was brought up in Hull but now lives in Lancaster. He started writing consistently after taking Open Access evening classes at the University of Glasgow in 2013. He has had several individual short stories published, most notably by Glasgow-based independent publishers thi wurd, and is working towards a full collection.
Writing can be hard – developing the craft is difficult enough, not to mention the lonely business of trying to get work published. Recognition like this tells me I’m doing okay – I should keep going. To hear that these particular judges were impressed by my submission is hugely encouraging. I’m very much looking forward to the opportunities and support offered in the months ahead.
Finchale Award for Short Fiction
Jack has been writing in some form or another since completing his MA in Creative & Life Writing from Goldsmiths College in 2012. Working as a copywriter for nearly a decade, Jack returned to creative writing in 2020, collaborating with his partner to publish an illustrated gift book, A is for Arson: A Suffragette Alphabet of Rebellion & Resistance. He has since written several short stories and is currently writing a novel that combines folk horror and small-office politics, which will feature crushing existential dread, ancient pig deities, and other subjects for all the family.
After dousing myself in cold water to prove this isn’t a dream, I am beyond honoured and excited to receive this award. Winning the Finchale Award for Short Fiction has not only helped quell that gnawing voice of self-doubt, but made the world of writing feel fresh, accessible, and exciting to an extent I didn’t think was possible. I am – and will forever be – hugely grateful.
TLC Free Read Award
Jessie Joe Jacobs is a social entrepreneur, charity leader and political campaigner from the North East of England. She is a debut author and has a short story published in Crossing the Tees and the Newark Literary Journal.
Jessie completed a creative writing course at the University of Durham, Inkapture, and was a previous winner of the Writers Block North East mentoring programme.
She has written articles for news platforms including The Guardian and The New Statesman. Her writing journey began some years ago after working with marginalised young people in a charity she founded, A Way Out. She wanted to create worlds and stories that people from working class and BAME backgrounds could identify with and find inspiration and hope from. Her writing intertwines issues of race and class with magic and adventure.
I was quite emotional when I got the news about the award. I began writing The New Queen during lockdown when the Black Lives Matter movement had just begun. I wanted to explore issues of power, privilege and race but in a way that would connect with everyday young people and that what started as hobby has now become a passion I am excited to develop.
Khatijah Balu is a writer and works with Autistic and SEN children. She lives in Blackburn, Lancashire, is an IBD warrior, and holds a Master’s in Creative Writing with English Literary Studies from Lancaster University. She is currently writing YA and short fiction. In 2021, her work was longlisted for the Aurora Prize for Writing, and right now, she is focusing on her debut, a homage to murder mysteries, teenagehood and everything high-school related, written through the lens of a South Asian Muslim. When she isn’t writing, she can be found chasing her cat down the street or adding more books to an endless TBR pile.
For me, the award is more than winning an accolade to add to my writing biography, but more of a recognition of my creative endeavours, and, of course, the start of a new chapter in my writing life.
Catherine Spooner was born in East Yorkshire and now lives in Lancaster, where she is Professor of Literature and Culture at Lancaster University. She has published widely on her academic research in Gothic literature, film, fashion and popular culture, including the books Fashioning Gothic Bodies, Contemporary Gothic and Post-Millennial Gothic: Comedy, Romance and the Rise of Happy Gothic, which was awarded the 2019 Allan Lloyd Smith Memorial Prize by the International Gothic Association. She has also co-edited four collections of academic essays, most recently The Cambridge History of the Gothic Volume 3: The Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries (with Dale Townshend). She has recently returned to creative writing in mid-life and is currently taking a career break while pursuing an MLitt in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.
The Arvon Award is a gift of time and space to write and that’s an incredible thing to give to someone. For me, it has come just at the right moment, as I return to a demanding full-time job following a year out studying Creative Writing. Knowing that someone thinks my writing is worth giving time and space to has given me confidence and renewed my motivation to continue pursuing my goals.
Young Northern Writers' Awards 11-14
Izzy Baillie Smith (Winner)
Izzy has always loved making stories, inspired by her own experiences and often with a sense of mystery! She is also a keen artist and enjoys imagining her characters in pencil and paint as well as in words. Her plan for the future is to keep on writing and study towards a career in the creative industries.
I was so excited when I heard I had won the 11-14 category. It has given me a real confidence boost to keep working on my writing, and I have lots of new characters and story ideas taking shape in my head!
Ella Youngs (Highly Commended)
Writing has always been Ella’s escape route into a different world, whether that be mind-bogglingly crazy or eerily mysterious. When she was younger she would devour every book she could get her hands on, and scribbling down stories and poems thrilled her. Writing still gives Ella that incredible, exhilarating feeling just as it did back then. She enjoys experimenting with both prose and poetry as well as giving characters a compelling storyline. Ella hopes to weave her love for words into her future studies.
Gaining recognition for my writing is very encouraging and has given me the confidence to believe that I can not only write for myself but it is good enough to share with others, too. There will always be a voice in the back of my mind reminding me that I shouldn’t give up because my writing isn’t as bad as I first thought and I am incredibly grateful for this.
Young Northern Writers' Awards 15-18
Sawyer Brook (Winner)
Sawyer Brook is a poet based in Bradford who explores every corner of the self and identity in their work. Mainly focusing on free verse poetry, Sawyer specialises in turning small things into big pieces, often finding inspiration in tiny details of everyday life and turning these into emotive and moving works. Sawyer worked as part of Bradford Young Writers group for six years, writing poetry as well as a full-length novel while part of the group, and will have poems published in their upcoming anthology. They hope to go on to study Creative Writing and Drama and pursue a career in the arts.
After writing all my life, it feels so surreal to be acknowledged for it! I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self who was just learning — they’d be so proud. This amazing opportunity will help me to further my studies and pursue options to further my writing career.
Hala Mukhair (Highly Commended)
Hala Mukhair was born, and currently lives, in Sheffield, United Kingdom. She is a poet whose work often covers themes of trauma, relationships, death, loss and social issues. She believes that poetry has the ability to be cathartic and can allow us to move past difficult experiences, thereby strengthening the connection we have with our inner selves. Hala’s deep interest in psychology contributes to the introspective quality of her work, as she wishes to dissect the human experience in order to find a way to understand it.
I’m extremely excited about being highly commended. I feel very proud and honoured. I believe that this will boost the confidence I have in my work, therefore pushing me to make the most of future opportunities.
Matthew Hale Award
Nefeli Frida (Winner)
Nefeli is a student and avid reader from South Yorkshire. She was born in Cyprus, and she moved to the UK when she was 9. She loves reading and writing and has written articles and reviews for her school’s magazine and newsletter. Nefeli is part of the South Yorkshire HIVE group and has had a short fiction piece published in a ‘Truth to Power’ Young Writers’ anthology. She’s partaken in multiple of her school’s opportunities, including a six week program created by the Children’s Capital of Culture Organisation, and hopes to continue to have literature and art be a part of her life in the future.
I was really pleased to receive this award and am really excited to see where this opportunity will take me. This, along with the support of my English teacher have really boosted my self-esteem as a writer, and I hope that this will be shown in my future writing pieces.
Isabelle Pollard (Highly Commended)
Isabelle Pollard is an aspiring poet with Tourette’s Syndrome. With dreams of becoming published, Isabelle attends Rotherham Young Writers to improve her work. She channels her Tourette’s in her poetry and finds writing to be an escape for her. Isabelle hopes her work will provide others struggling with the same condition comfort as she continues to explore who she is as a writer.
I’m so grateful to have been Highly Commended for the Matthew Hale Award as it has given me new-found confidence in myself and my writing abilities. I’m going to use the award and all the help it has provided me to improve on my poetry going forwards!