The 2017 Exeter Story Prize and Trisha Ashley Award
It has been a great privilege to read all the entries in this year's competition. The huge variety of subject matter, setting, style, and such a high standard of writing across the board, meant that once again, very difficult choices had to be made. Considerable congratulations must go to our winners.
First Prize - £500 + trophy
The Improbable Yarn of Clark Curtis by Sophie Ellen Powell
We were completely enchanted by this quirky tale of obsession, knitting and superheroes. How the author weaves together such unlikely themes, within the setting of an extended family across the generations, is as remarkable as the most complex of knitting patterns. Fresh and original, with an ending that does not disappoint.
Second Prize - £150
Much by Joanna Campbell
A rainy day, a moment's inattention crossing the road on the way to school, and Graham lets go of his young sister's hand. What ensues forms the basis of this powerful, moving, but ultimately uplifting story. We all took Graham and his father into our hearts, such was the attention to detail, exquisite writing and the author's skill at revealing her characters so delicately.
Third Prize - £100
The Lock Keeper by Richard Buxton
Evan's peaceful life by the lock is disrupted by the arrival of the young, gay, large and lazy, Ash, whose been sent on work-experience. Is it possible that their antagonism towards each other could ultimately be of benefit to them both? This is an absorbing and compassionate story touched with humour. We particularly enjoyed the convincing characterisation of the two men and the canal setting.
The Trisha Ashley Award - £200 + trophy
Fields of Mud by Andrew Stiggers
Poor Eric is having a miserable time on the battlefield. There's mud everywhere and much of it all over him. He should never have joined up. But his friend, Jon is having a lovely time. Why, he even has a linen tunic and gold brooch-studded cloak! The relationship between these two friends is at the centre of this entertaining and well-written story. Will Eric ever assert himself? When the game is up, can he persuade the troops what the fighting is really all about?