Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Prizes Mark New Exciting Chapter

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Prizes Mark New Exciting Chapter

Article excerpt

Byline: By Emer McCourt

Emer McCourt talks to two women who have won Northern Writers' Awards.

Some of the region's most talented and promising writers yesterday received awards totalling more than pounds 27,500.

The Northern Writers' Awards are presented annually by New Writing North, the Newcastle-based writing development agency, to writers based in the region.

This year's recipients were announced at a special event at the Queens Hall, Hexham, as part of the Hexham Book Festival.

Claire Malcolm, director of New Writing North and chair of this year's judging panel, said: "The North-East is a vibrant place for literary endeavour and a great deal of talented writers live and work here."

The various awards are designed to help writers at different stages of their careers.

Writer Alice de Smith, who is best known in the region for her plays, Our Kind of Fun and Briefs ( both for Live Theatre, Newcastle ( is one of two winners of a pounds 5,000 Time to Write Award, the other being poet Andy Croft from Middlesbrough.

Alice, originally from Cambridge, moved to Newcastle after meeting her future husband, Leon Mexter, who is from the North-East, while working as a journalist in London.

"I did the commuting thing for a long time, up and down the East Coast Main Line, before thinking enough is enough," Alice said.

Since moving to the North-East five years ago, she hasn't looked back.

"When I moved here, I knew I wanted to write creatively," she said. "Living up in the North-East, I've had opportunity after opportunity. It's a fantastic place, full of people who are energized in facilitating writers. I feel the North-East has given me so much."

With the BBC knocking at the door for her pilot television drama, the pounds 5,000 will provide Alice with the focus she needs to concentrate her creative juices on completing her novel, Enough. …

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