Monday, 11 December 2017

BBC National Short Story Award 2018 & BBC Young Writers' Award 2018 - Press Release

I have a long press release to share with you guys so bear with me a few moments before I share it!

As you know, I was asked (kindly but randomly) if I would blog about the BBC Young Writers' Award 2017. I did (because am always on the hunt for fresh stories - basically, I feel like a bookshark. Hey, maybe instead of bookworm, we readers should call ourselves booklions or booksharks!) and I was luck to be invited to the BBC to watch the winner be announced on BBC Radio 4's Front Row (write up for that is here!).

Well, the lovely PR at ED PR emailed me and asked if I would a press release for next year's BBC National Short Story Award 2018 and BBC Young Writers' Award 2018, I jumped at it! I mean, FRESH TALENT!

Anyway, enough of my jabba-jabber! Let's show off the press release!


***EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01hrs GMT Monday 11th December 2017***

TV’s Mel Giedroyc and Katie Thistleton 
chair 2018 panels of judges as the
prestigious BBC National Short Story Award 
and BBC Young Writers’ Award call for submissions 

The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University (NSSA) today calls for submissions for the 13th year with television presenter, author and actress Mel Giedroyc chairing the judging panel for the 2018 award. Mel, who has co-hosted a myriad of television shows including The Great British Bake-Off, has written two books From Here to Maternity (2005) and Going Ga-Ga (2007). Mel’s counterpart on the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University (YWA) is BBC Radio 1 and CBBC’s Book Club presenter Katie Thistleton, who will chair the judging panel for the teenage award as it opens for submissions for the fourth year. 

Mel Giedroyc, Chair of the BBC National Short Story Award Judging Panel, says: 
“It’s a great honour to be chairing the BBC National Short Story Award for 2018 and very exciting that it has a new association with the University of Cambridge. I love stories of all kinds and am an avid reader – by my bed at the moment I’ve got some weighty material - Victor Hugo, the London A-Z, Thomas Mannso to immerse myself in the very best stories from celebrated British writers will be a huge pleasure. We live in such a fast-paced world that the short story acts as a perfect meditation. Although I know that choosing a winner from the wonders that we will receive will not be easy, I’m ready for the challenge.”

Katie Thistleton, Chair of the BBC Young Writers’ Award Judging Panel says:
“I’m a complete book worm so to chair the BBC Young Writers’ Award and find the authors of tomorrow will not only be incredibly exciting, but a huge pleasure. I’ve interviewed many bestselling writers, but this feels even more of an honour as we will be discovering the next generation of original voices. Having read the winning stories from previous years I know I, and my fellow judges, will be inspired and enthralled in equal measure.”

Giedroyc and Thistleton will be joined by an esteemed group of award-winning writers and poets on their respective panels. For the BBC National Short Story Award: short story writer and 2016 BBC NSSA winner, K J Orr and Granta’s ‘20 under 40’ novelist, Benjamin Markovits, one of last year’s shortlisted writers, returning judge, Di Speirs, Books Editor at BBC Radio, and multi award winning poet and Cambridge alumni Sarah Howe. For the BBC Young Writers’ Award, Thistleton will lead Carnegie Medal-winning YA author and former teacher, Sarah Crossan, celebrated poet Dean Atta, adult and YA author William Sutcliffe and bestselling author, actress, singer and vlogger, Carrie Hope Fletcher.

The BBC National Short Story Award is one of the most prestigious for a single short story, with the winning author receiving £15,000, and four further shortlisted authors £600 each. The shortlisted writers for the BBC Young Writers’ Award will have their stories featured on the BBC Radio 1, Cambridge University and First Story websites, with the winner’s story broadcast on the radio station. In addition, a new initiative, the BBC Student Critics’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University (SCA), will give selected 16-18 year olds around the UK the opportunity to read, discuss and critique the five shortlisted NSSA stories from Easter 2018.

Last year’s winner of the BBC National Short Story Award was Cynan Jones for his ‘exhilarating, terrifying and life-affirming’ story ‘The Edge of the Shoal’ with previous alumni including Lionel Shriver, Zadie Smith, Hilary Mantel, Jon McGregor and William Trevor. The winner of the 2017 Young Writers’ Award was 17-year-old Elizabeth Ryder for her ‘sophisticated’ and ‘original’ story ‘The Roses’. Previous winners are Brennig Davies for ‘Skinning’ and Lizzie Freestone for ‘Ode to a Boy Musician’.

2018 will be the first year of a new and exciting collaboration between the BBC and partners First Story and the University of Cambridge. The charity First Story will support the YWA and BBC SCA with further activity that will engage young people with reading, writing and listening to short stories. The University of Cambridge will support all three awards, including hosting a short story symposium at the Institute of Continuing Education on 7th July 2018, and curating an exclusive online exhibition of artefacts drawn from the University Library’s archive, to inspire and intrigue potential entrants of the YWA.

Di Speirs, Editor of Books at BBC Radio and judge of the Award since its launch, says:
“It’s that wonderfully exciting time of the year when we begin our search for the outstanding, haunting, surprising short stories of 2018. Every year the BBC National Short Story Award opens my eyes to new writers and exceptional short stories and I can’t wait to read the submissions that will come our way. With a new partnership and lots of plans, especially for younger writers and readers, it’s going to be a big year – but at its heart will still be the very best short story writing in the UK.”

Mónica Parle, Executive Director at First Story says:
“At First Story, we know from experience the pleasure and power that writing gives young people, and we urge any young writers between the ages of 14 and 18 to consider submitting a story for the Young Writers' Award. This award offers a unique opportunity to bring your work to the attention of our expert judges and, potentially, BBC Radio 1 and 4 listeners. If you are a parent, teacher or librarian, please encourage the young people you know to take this brilliant opportunity, and look out for further information in due course about the Student Critics' Award. The BBC Young Writers' Award and Student Critics Award together create an unparalleled avenue to nurture and celebrate young people's creativity critical thinking skills. We look forward to your entries.”

Prof. Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge says:
“The University of Cambridge has a proud tradition of nurturing literary talent, educating many people who have gone on to become our most successful novelists and short story writers. From undergraduate students to the adults, of all backgrounds and ages, who discover the joy and importance of creative writing at our Institute of Continuing Education’s Centre for Creative Writing, Cambridge inspires and encourages new writers. We are delighted that through this partnership with the BBC and First Story we can reach out to a wider audience and inspire more people to unlock their creative potential.”

Full ‘Terms and Conditions’ for both awards are available with submissions accepted online at and from 9am today (11th December 2017). The deadline for receipt of entries for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University is 9am (GMT) Monday 12th March 2018. The deadline for receipt of entries for the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University is 9am (GMT) Monday 19th March 2018. 

The shortlist for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University will be announced on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row at 7.15pm on Friday 14th September 2018. Readings of the shortlisted stories will broadcast on BBC Radio 4 from Monday 17th to Friday 21st September and interviews with the shortlisted writers will air from Friday 14th September 2018 on Front Row. The shortlist for the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University will be announced on BBC Radio 1’s Life Hacks at 4pm on Sunday 23rd September 2018. 

The announcement of the winners of the two awards will be broadcast live from the Award ceremony in Cambridge on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row from 7.15pm on Tuesday 2nd October 2018.

Mel Giedroyc is a television presenter and actress best known for co-hosting shows with her on-screen partner, Sue Perkins who she met while studying at Cambridge University. Their programmes include Light Lunch, Mel and Sue and The Great British Bake Off. In 2017, she co-presented the BBC’s Light it Shine with Graham Norton. Mel is working on her third book. She lives in London.

Sarah Howe is a British poet, academic and editor. Her first book, Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus, 2015), won the T.S. Eliot Prize and The Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award; it was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Born in Hong Kong in 1983 to an English father and Chinese mother, she moved to England as a child. Her pamphlet, A Certain Chinese Encyclopedia (Tall-lighthouse, 2009), won an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors. Her poems have appeared in journals including The Poetry Review, Poetry LondonThe GuardianThe Sunday Times, The Financial Times, The Telegraph, Ploughshares and Poetry, as well as anthologies such as Ten: The New Wave and four editions of The Best British Poetry. She has performed her work at festivals internationally and on BBC Radio 3 & 4. She is the founding editor of Prac Crit, an online journal of poetry and criticism. From 2010-2015, she was a Research Fellow at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, before taking up a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at University College London. Previous honours include a Hawthornden Fellowship and the Harper-Wood Studentship for English Poetry, as well as fellowships from Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation. She is a Lecturer in Poetry at King’s College London.

Benjamin Markovits grew up in Texas, London, Oxford and Berlin and now lives in London. A former professional basketball player, he has taught high school English, worked at a cultural magazine, and written essays, stories and reviews for, among other publications, The New York Times, Esquire, Granta, The Guardian, The London Review of Books and The Paris Review. He has published seven novels and his most recent novel, You Don’t Have To Live Like This, won the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction in 2015. His forthcoming novel A Weekend in New York will be published in June 2018 by Faber & Faber. Granta selected him as one of the Best of Young British Novelists in 2013 and he was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award with his story 'The Collector' in 2017. He teaches Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.

K J Orr won the BBC National Short Story Award 2016 for ‘Disappearances’. She is the author of the short story collection Light Box, which was shortlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize and the Republic of Consciousness Prize in 2017. Her stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and have appeared in publications including Best British Short Stories, the Irish Times, the Dublin Review and the White Review. Her essays and reviews have been published by Poetry Review, the TLS and the Guardian, among others. She is a Teaching Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.

Di Speirs edited the Woman's Hour serial for three years, produced the first ever Book of the Week, and has directed many Book at Bedtimes as well as dramas. She is now Editor, Books, leading the London Readings team and also editing Open Book and Book Club on BBC Radio 4 and World Book Club on the BBC World Service. A long-time advocate of the formidable power of the short story, she has been closely involved in the BBC National Short Story Award since its inception twelve years ago and is a regular judge on the panel.

Dean Atta is a poet from London, UK. His debut collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger, published by the Westbourne Press, was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. He was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday Pink List and featured in Out News Global Pride Power List. He has performed across the UK and internationally at the Biennale of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean (Italy), CrossKultur (Germany), Ordspark (Sweden) PuSh Festival (Canada) and Word N Sound (South Africa). He is Guest Artistic Director of New Writing South and Writer in Residence with Creative Future, as well as a member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen and Point Blank Poets. He has been commissioned to write poems for BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service, Dazed & Confused, Keats House Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern. He is currently working on his second collection The Black Flamingo.

Sarah Crossan is originally from Dublin. She graduated with a degree in philosophy and literature before training as an English and drama teacher at Cambridge University. Sarah taught English at a small private school near New York until she became a full-time writer. She now lives in Hertfordshire. Sarah is the author of The Weight of Water, Breathe, Resist, Apple and Rain, One (winner of CILIP Carnegie Medal, YA Book Prize, CLiPPA Poetry Award and CBI Book of the Year Award and The Children’s Choice Award) and Moonrise (shortlisted for the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards and the Costa Children’s Book Award). She co-authored We Come Apart with Costa Children’s Book Award winner Brian Conaghan.

Carrie Hope Fletcher is an actress, singer, author, vlogger and, thanks to her popular YouTube channel, 'honorary big sister' to over a million young people around the world. Carrie's first book, All I Know Now, was a number one Sunday Times bestseller and her debut novel, On the Other Side, also went straight to number one in its first week on sale. Carrie's second novel, All That She Can See, was a Top Three Sunday Times bestseller in hardback and a Top Ten bestseller in Ireland.
Carrie played the role of Eponine in Les Misérables at the Queen's Theatre in London's West End for almost three years and received the 2014 WhatsOnStage Award for Best Takeover in a Role. She has since played Beth in The War of the Worlds, Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family and will play Brenda Payne in Tom Fletcher's The Christmasaurus in December 2018. Carrie lives just outside of London with numerous fictional friends that she keeps on bookshelves, just in case.

William Sutcliffe was born in London in 1971 and read English at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He is the author of the international bestseller Are You Experienced?, The Love Hexagon, New Boy, Bad Influence and Whatever Makes You Happy. His first YA novel, The Wall, was shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal in 2014, and his next YA novel, Concentr8, was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2016. His latest novel, We See Everything, has just been published by Bloomsbury. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. He lives in Edinburgh. 

Katie Thistleton has been a familiar face on BBC programmes since 2013 where she has been a live Presenter of 'the bits in between the shows' on CBBC for almost 5 years. She is the presenter of The CBBC Book Club, where she has interviewed authors such Jacqueline Wilson, David Walliams and Cressida Cowell to name a few. Katie is now also a regular voice on BBC Radio 1, presenting 'Life Hacks' on Sundays 4-7pm and previously presenting Radio 1’s ‘The Surgery.' Other credits include Hacker's Birthday Bash, a celebration of 30 years of Children's BBC, and Hacker's Crackers, a special live Christmas show. Prior to becoming a TV presenter, Katie worked for a variety of local and community radio stations, and in various roles across the BBC for Radio 4, CBBC, CBeebies and BBC Radio 1. She’s also an avid writer and reader and campaigns for getting young people to read and write. Katie is passionate about raising mental health awareness, and is an ambassador for children's mental health charities YoungMinds and Place2be. Her book, Dear Katie: Real Problems, Real Advice is published by Hachette Children’s in February 2018.


  • Submissions for the 2018 BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University and the 2018 BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University opened on Monday 11th December 2017.
  • The deadline for receipt of entries for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University is 9am (GMT) Monday 12th March 2018. The deadline for receipt of entries for the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University is 9am (GMT) Monday 19th March 2018. 
  • The shortlist for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University will be announced on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row at 7.15pm on Friday 14th September 2018. The shortlist for the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University will be announced on BBC Radio 1’s Life Hacks at 4pm on Sunday 23rd September 2018. 
  • The stories shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University will run on BBC Radio 4 from Monday 17th to Friday 21st September 2018 from 3.30pm to 4pm. The announcement of the winners of the two awards will be broadcast live from the award ceremony at the Cambridge University Library on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row from 7.15pm on Tuesday 2nd October 2018.
  • The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University (NSSA) aims to celebrate and promote the best in contemporary British short fiction. Since it began in 2005, its alumni have included established writers such as Rose Tremain, Mark Haddon, Sarah Hall, Jonathan Buckley, K J Orr and Lionel Shriver. 
  • The BBC National Short Story Award is open to authors with a previous record of publication who are UK nationals or residents, aged 18 years or over. The story entered must either have been unpublished, or be first published or scheduled for publication after 1st January of the previous year. The story should have a maximum of 8000 words and must have been written in English. The Award offers £15,000 for the winner and £600 to four shortlisted writers. For more information please visit
  • The BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University (YWA), for 14-18 year olds, was launched in 2015. This Award looks for the best new writing from teenagers, and considers all entries on the basis of quality and originality of prose and narrative voice. This Award aims to encourage and celebrate the next generation of short story writers. For more information please visit
  • The BBC Student Critics' Award with First Story and Cambridge University (SCA) gives selected 1618 year olds around the UK the opportunity to participate in the National Short Story Award: to read, listen to, discuss and critique the five NSSA stories shortlisted by the judges, and have their say. The students are supported with discussion guides, teaching resources and interactions with writers, judges, First Story patrons, and staff and students from Cambridge University Faculty of English, for an enriching experience that brings literature to life. 
  • Follow the BBC National Short Story Award on Twitter via #BBCNSSA #shortstories and the BBC Young Writers’ Award via #BBCYWA #shortstories
  • BBC Radio 4 is the world’s biggest single commissioner of short stories, which attract more than a million listeners. Contemporary stories are broadcast every week, the majority of which are specially commissioned throughout the year.
  • BBC Radio 1 is the UK’s No.1 youth station, targeting 15 to 29 year-olds with a distinctive mix of new music and programmes focusing on issues affecting young people. Radio 1 has a weekly audience of 10.55 million (including all listeners aged 10+) and in January 2014, became the first radio station in the world to reach 1 million subscribers on YouTube. BBC Radio 1’s YouTube and Vevo channel has over 5 million subscribers and receives an average of 1.80 million views a day, which makes it the most watched radio station in the world. 
Radio 1 has over 2.78 million likes on Facebook, 3.02 million followers on Twitter, and over 427,000 followers for the Official Radio 1 Playlist on Spotify. Since launching on 10th November 2014, Radio 1’s iPlayer channel has received over 40.6 million views.
One of the station’s key purposes is to support new British music and emerging artists, also discovering new artists through BBC Introducing. Radio 1 is also the leading voice for young people in the UK, tackling relevant issues through our documentaries, Radio 1’s Life Hacks, Newsbeat as well as our social action and education campaigns. Topics covered include youth employment, sexuality, body image and bullying. The station also hosts the annual Radio 1 Teen Awards, with the centrepiece being the recognition of some very special teenagers, who each win a Teen Hero Award. BBC Radio 1 is a truly multiplatform station, enabling young audiences to connect to the network and to listen, watch and share great content both at home and whilst on the move - via FM and DAB Radio; the BBC iPlayer Radio app; online (; Freeview and other digital television platforms; and via mobile. 
  • First Story started in 2008 by the writer William Fiennes (author of The Music Room and The Snow Geese) and former teacher Katie Waldegrave (author of The Poets’ Daughters). First Story exists to bring talented, professional writers into secondary schools serving low-income communities to work with teachers and students to foster creativity and communication skills. Since 2008, First Story has run 312 residencies in secondary schools serving low-income communities, given 5760 students the chance to take part in weekly creative writing workshops, worked with 150 acclaimed authors and 450 teachers and librarians, engaged with 9000 young people through competitions and one-off events and produced over 100,000 original stories and poems, 320 anthologies, 100 postcards and six award-winning six word stories. More information at 

  • University of Cambridge: The mission of the University of Cambridge is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. To date, 96 affiliates of the University have won the Nobel Prize. Founded in 1209, the University comprises 31 autonomous Colleges, which admit undergraduates and provide small-group tuition, and 150 departments, faculties and institutions. Cambridge is a global university. Its 19,000 student body includes 3,700 international students from 120 countries. Cambridge researchers collaborate with colleagues worldwide, and the University has established larger-scale partnerships in Asia, Africa and America. The BBC National Short Story Award is being supported by the School of Arts and Humanities, Faculty of English, University Library and the new University of Cambridge Centre for Creative Writing which is part of the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education. More information at

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