Winners 2019/20

TLC Free Reads 2019/20 was open to writers of prose (fiction, children’s, narrative non-fiction and short stories), poetry, and scripts for TV, Film, Radio or Theatre.

Our winners are announced below – congratulations to all and we look forward to hearing more from you in future!

TLC is funded by Arts Council England.


Rosemary Mitchell, ‘Journals and Reflections on a Unique Life’ (memoir)

I am 83 years old; a retired nurse, midwife, and health visitor. I married in 1961; worked in these duties in rural Norfolk. My husband and I have raised four children, all of mixed race, adopted as babies. We lived in Africa for two years.  My interests while raising our family were in providing a rich environment for them and others including music courses and children’s camps. In later years, I explored new interests including teaching English as a foreign language and Toastmasters International. Writing memoirs, I have been much encouraged by those at the National Centre for Writing.

Margaret Bridgman, ‘witherspoon’ (fiction)

Born in 1953, Margaret and was just too young to take full advantage of the swinging sixties. She always loved anything to do with books and it surprised no-one when she became a Librarian. She lives on the East Coast with her husband and two dogs.   When she is not writing she tries her hand at painting.   She loves music and plays Piano, Piano Accordion, and Guitar.  She keeps fit by practising Chen Tai Chi and swimming regularly. Margaret is concerned about ageism and likes her characters to demonstrate that people over 25 can still have adventures.

Maureen Austen, ‘Janet’s Story’ (fiction)

As a child in North London I preferred curling up with an Enid Blyton to doing anything sporty. I loved reading, was hopeless at maths – fairly typical for a girl in the sixties.  My blind grandmother was a fantastic critic and encouraged me every day. Life got in the way of creativity until I got a job at London University science department in 2001.  Boredom and love of historical crime led to the start of Janet’s Story. Though interrupted by domestic crises, I eventually retired to care for my sick husband and Janet was resurrected and finally completed.

CJ Brady, ‘A Carer’s View’ (memoir)

CJ Brady, is a new author based in Norfolk, whilst remaining a weaver and crafter under the name CJ’s Crafts.  Most importantly CJ is a mum to two beautiful children, a home educator and carer.  Although educated with a degree in textiles, writing has always been another passion and she enjoyed having a short poem published as a teenager under her maiden name.  Life moving forward in an unexpected direction created difficulty, but allowed for the areas of interest to be pursued.  The aim now is to complete both weaving and crafts, alongside writing; memoirs, sci-fi and children’s stories.

Tam O’Malley, ‘Wefflin’s World’ (children’s fiction)

Tam O’Malley is a writer, artist and researcher for documentaries for television. She started Psykey Films in 2013 as a base for her post-production work for companies including Animal Planet, BBC Four and Atlantic Productions. Her first book about mythological creatures is out next year. Nature, animals (especially bearded dragons!) are her first love, usually having one of the scaly gang with her along with the biggest mug of tea she can find, while she works.

Fathima Zahra, ‘Datepalm Ghazals’ (poetry)

Fathima Zahra is an Indian poet currently based in Essex. She is a Barbican Young Poet and Roundhouse Poetry Collective Alumna. She has won the Bridport Prize, Wells Festival of Literature Young Poets Prize and the Asia House Slam 2019. Her work has been featured across BBC World News, The New Indian Express and Young Poets Network. In her poems, she explores the lives of the diaspora and what belonging means.