I'm a winner!

Yep, I can't quite believe I'm typing this, but... I won the Arvon Award at this year's Northern Writers' Awards! You can see the 'are-you-sure-you've-got-the-right-person?' expression on my face, with the official write-up, right here...

I entered the Northern Writers' Awards to try and win development time for my short story collection, currently in progress. The collection is comprised of stories based on or influenced by English folk song – reinterpretations, reimaginings – as a challenge to myself, to meld my love of folk song and fiction, but also to demonstrate what a strong, fascinating canon of folk song we English people have, much of which gives an insight into the lives of our ordinary ancestors: how they worked, how they loved, how they played. I believe our folk song is a rich compendium on which artists can draw – and thankfully, Ruth Borthwick, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the Arvon Foundation, thought so, too!

Last Thursday, Chris and I travelled up to Newcastle to collect my award. It was such an exhilarating day! Firstly, I met the other award winners at the Northern Stage, where we chatted about our works in progress and got to know each other over tea and cake. I met some truly lovely, interesting people who I've vowed to stay in touch with as our year with New Writing North unfolds.

Then, in the evening, we went along to The Sutherland Building for the dinner and award presentation ceremony. A variety of different people spoke about their experiences of the Awards: New Writing North staff and trustees, judges and other writers involved in the judging process, and previous recipients, while each judge gave a heartwarming account of why they chose the winning entry they did. I must admit that when Ruth took to the stage to talk about my 'ambitious' project, a stray tear did make its way down my face...

I'm now able to attend an Arvon course of my choosing – dream come true! – and attend other development sessions and opportunities courtesy of New Writing North. It's going to be a fantastic year.

And I'm one of those writers that firmly believed 'it won't happen to me...' If you're deliberating about whether to send in that entry, do it. You never know what might happen!