Writers from Hastings, St Leonards and Bexhill win Literary Festival prizes

L-R: Andrea Samuelson; Antony Mair; New Writing South chief executive Lesley Wood and Glyn Carter
L-R: Andrea Samuelson; Antony Mair; New Writing South chief executive Lesley Wood and Glyn Carter

Writers from Bexhill, Hastings and St Leonards fought off stiff international competition to pick up 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 that 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.

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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 September 1, at the LitFest closing ceremony which was presided over by its patron, the St Leonards-born playwright Sir David Hare.

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

Commenting on Paul’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.”

Glyn Carter, winner of the New Writing South Prize, left his steady job working for Hastings Borough Council in 2014 to start making films, since when he’s made 11 shorts, and won several awards and festival selections.

Liminal, his NWS entry, 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 character’s 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. 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, . He was placed second in the LitFest poetry competition and won the New Writing South poetry prize for Baudelaire in a Hastings Corner Shop.

Andrea Samuelson 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. Visit https://hastingslitfest.org/ for details.