The National Centre for Writing has today opened submissions for the University of East Anglia (UEA) New Forms Award and Laura Kinsella Fellowship: two awards for fiction writers at the beginning of their writing careers.

UEA New Forms Award

UEA New Forms AwardThe UEA New Forms Award, worth £4,000 to the winner, will champion an innovative and daring new voice in fiction. It will be awarded to a writer at the beginning of their career whose work might collaborate with other art-forms or in site specific/site responsive ways, experiment with forms of performance or print, challenge traditional form or inhabit a digital space. The winner will also receive a bespoke period of development, which may include mentoring, learning opportunities and promotional platforms, depending on their ambition and need.

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The Laura Kinsella Fellowship

Laura Kinsella FellowshipThe Laura Kinsella Fellowship, also worth £4,000, has been set up to support writers experiencing limiting circumstances or whose voices are underrepresented in mainstream literary fiction. It will be awarded to one exceptionally talented early career writer of literary fiction, who will also benefit from a bespoke programme of professional development and promotional opportunities. This may include space and time to write, mentoring, residency or research trips, introductions to the industry or engagement with existing NCW programmes.

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The submissions deadline for both prizes is Friday 15 January 2021. Both prizes are free to enter. Both are open to writers who live in England at the time of application and until at least June 2021, are over the age of 18, have not published a debut novel or short story collection, and propose a clear case for support.

Peggy Hughes, Programme Director, National Centre for Writing said:

‘Routes into writing aren’t always clear and most writers face challenges at the beginning of their career, but these challenges can be exacerbated by other factors – for example, by coming from a group underrepresented in literary fiction, or by choosing to write more unusual, experimental work. The Laura Kinsella Fellowship and UEA New Forms Award aim to improve access to opportunity for early career writers facing these particular difficulties. By providing comprehensive, tailored programmes of support, including financial assistance, we hope to help promising talent overcome their specific circumstances and to ensure their work has a chance to reach readers.’

Professor Henry Sutton, Director of Creative Writing at UEA, said:

‘New opportunities and collaborations for literary writing and sustainability are rapidly opening up as the digital revolution continues to reshape both creation and dissemination – no more so than now in our near virtual world. The UEA New Forms Award, in its second year, aims to embrace that change and support emerging writers who are exploring radically new literary models and frontiers. This is a wonderful opportunity to help shape the literary landscape of the future, to be fully inclusive and innovative, and we are delighted to be working on this immensely important scheme with our longstanding partners National Centre for Writing, and with Arts Council England support.’

Alice Jolly, Laura Kinsella Foundation said:

‘As a society, we need to make sure that we hear every voice. The Laura Kinsella Fellowship acknowledges the many barriers which face some aspiring writers and aims to show what can be achieved through a flexible package of practical support and mentoring.’

These two prizes fall under the NCW’s Early Career Awards, which represents a new model for literary prizes combining the power of a private trust with the unique year-round programme of NCW. The Desmond Elliott Prize, which was taken on by the NCW in September 2019, is the flagship in the NCW’s Early Career Awards portfolio.

Arts Council England has increased the impact of the awards by contributing towards an early career digital programme providing resources, professional development and industry advice as a free public resource for new writers. The ACE support also enables a tailored early career programme for the winning writers which includes residency opportunities, mentoring and industry support to help them build a sustainable career.

The winner of the inaugural UEA New Forms Award 2020 was Taylor Beidler for a project exploring non-traditional storytelling which synthesised her work as a playwright, performance artist and creative non-fiction writer. Her bespoke programme of support has so far included a commission for the Early Career Awards free writers resources (supported by ACE), a conversation with poet and playwright Inua Ellams  on The Writing Life podcast, and the opportunity to donate a hand-picked list of 10 books to Generation Arts, a youth charity offering free training to the next generation of actors and theatre-makers.

The inaugural Laura Kinsella Fellowship 2020 went to Michelle Perkins, a former nurse who rediscovered writing as a means of making sense of major life challenges and a difficult family history. As part of the Fellowship Perkins has taken part in several online courses with NCW and is scheduled for a week-long residency with NCW in March 2021, funded by Francis W Reckitt Arts Trust. She has also donated a hand-picked list of 10 books to Clean Break, a women’s theatre company working in prisons and the community.