By Alison Steel

Writers from Bexhill, Hastings and St Leonards fought off stiff international competition to pick up key prizes in Hastings Literary Festival’s 2019 competition, which featured short story, poetry and flash fiction categories.

Bexhill-based writer Paul Green took first place in the short story category. Hastings resident Roz Balp came second in the same category and was also third in flash fiction.

St Leonards-based writer Andrea Samuelson scooped second prize in flash fiction, with Hastings’ Antony Mair taking second place in the poetry competition.

Writers’ support and training organisation ‘New Writing South’ sponsored additional prizes for East Sussex-based writers. They awarded their short story prize and overall ‘New Writing South prize’ to Hastings filmmaker Glyn Carter. Andrea Samuelson won the NWS flash fiction prize and Antony Mair the NWS poetry prize.

There were 371 entries for Hastings LitFest’s three competitions from around the world, including the USA, South Africa and India and they were judged anonymously. The results were announced on 1st September, at the LitFest closing ceremony which was presided over by its patron, the St Leonards-born playwright, Sir David Hare.

Commenting on Paul Green’s winning science fiction short story ‘Zoe in a Trance of Terror’, judge Tabby Stirling said: “This story hasn’t left me – from the second paragraph I wanted it to be a novel. I became so immersed in this writer’s world.”

Paul, from Bexhill, has published four novels as well as several poetry collections and his plays have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, CBC Canada, Capital Radio, RTE Ireland and Resonance FM and performed by New Theatre Works and Travesty Theatre.

He says:  “It’s great to have this recognition of my work, which has encouraged me to develop the story into a new novel.”

Lesley Wood, chief executive of ‘New Writing South’, said: “We’re very proud to support this truly international competition at a time when it’s particularly important for individual voices to be heard.” 

Glyn Carter, winner of the NWS Prize, left his steady job working for Hastings Borough Council in 2014 to start making films, since when he’s made eleven shorts, and won several awards and festival selections. Liminal, his NWS prize-winner, is the first of Glyn’s stories to win a competition. 

He said: “It’s wonderful to be recognised. I’ve written screenplays, but with fiction you’re responsible for everything a director or actor would do in film, like atmosphere, pacing, and characters’ thoughts and emotions. Since I’m so new to writing prose fiction, it’s great to hear that I’m doing something right!”

Roz Balp has lived in Hastings for over 30 years and writes mainly short stories and poetry. In 2017 she won the National Association of Writers’ Groups’ poetry competition. She was placed second in the LitFest short story competition for ‘Faniel’ and third in flash fiction for ‘Look at the Lights’.

Antony Mair, who lives in Hastings, has been writing poetry since he was a teenager. Since retiring from the legal profession, he has gone from strength to strength. His debut collection Bestiary, and Other Animals was shortlisted for the 2017 Live Canon First Collection Prize. Antony founded and runs the Hastings Stanza poetry group, which is affiliated to the Poetry Society. He was placed second in the LitFest poetry competition and won the NWS poetry prize for ‘Baudelaire in a Hastings Corner Shop’.

Andrea Samuelson, who lives in St Leonards, is the author of Cradle Song, a book of poems about her great-grandmother’s incarceration in a mental asylum and her own hospitalisation for post-natal depression. Her poetry has been published in the Rialto and her short fiction has been published in Mslexia, Front and Centre and QWF. She won the Peterloo Poetry prize in 2009. She was placed second in the LitFest flash fiction competition and won the New Writing South flash fiction prize for Dwelling. 

The first Hastings LitFest Anthology, a compilation of competition entries selected by Hastings LitFest 2019 judges Tabatha Stirling, John McCullough and Michael Loveday, will be on sale soon priced £7.99.

Hastings Literary Festival began in 2018 and is supported by the Arts Council England and other sponsors.

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