This page celebrates the amazing winners of our two flagship competitions, the Exeter Novel Prize and the Exeter Story Prize. We wish all of them the very best of luck in their writing careers.
Daniel Murphy - 2018 Exeter Story Prize
Most of Danny’s professional career has been in education, where he was a successful headteacher at three very different Scottish secondary schools before working at the University of Edinburgh. In that role, Danny wrote/co-wrote/co-edited a number of books on current education policy and practice including Dealing with Dilemmas, now widely used in Scottish headteacher training programmes.
Frustrated at the limitations of academic texts - rigorous, analytical and conceptual in character, they often fail to capture the importance of the individual story – Danny studied for a part-time M.Litt. in Creative Writing at the University of Stirling and is working now on a novel which tells the individual stories of some of the pupils and teachers in a school, one of which is published in New Writing Scotland 34. He is a past winner of the Costa Short Story prize.
Danny’s online life is a bit uneven – improving it is on a long list of ‘things to do next year’! He started blogging while working as an education volunteer with Voluntary Service Overseas at the Ministry of Education in Cambodia, but has not been keeping the blog up to date recently. He tweets erratically @DannySMurphy.
E. J. Pepper - 2017 Exeter Novel Prize
E. J. Pepper was brought up in Worcestershire and Co. Donegal.
She studied English at London University, with a particular focus on Old Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon as a way of deepening her understanding of the roots of language and literature.
Following a lifetime ambition, she completed an M.A. in Creative Writing at Chichester University, a course that she feels really enabled her as a writer.
Her MS, ‘The Colours of the Dance,’ set in late-nineteenth century Ulster and viewing the struggle for Irish Home Rule through the eyes of a mute child, won the 2016 First Novel Prize.
She has had a variety of occupations, including university lecturer, magistrate, and bereavement and marital therapist.
She lives with her husband on the Surrey/Sussex border.
Sophie Ellen Powell - 2017 Exeter Story Prize
Sophie studied Drama and French at Bristol University, and has recently graduated with Distinction from the Creative Writing MA at Chichester Unversity.
As a perfomer her practise focuses on devised work , clown , mask, puppetry and object animation. She is a regular performer with Long Nose Puppets and has performed both with them and for other shows in many prestigeous places including The South bank Centre, ICA, Sheffield Crucible, Little Angel Puppet Theatre and London International Mime Festival.
Writing credits include poems published by Poetry Today and So Sussex, and theatre reviews for Brighton Fringe Festival. Sophie also co -wrote the script for a recent comission Mischief and Mysteries in Moomin Valley which premiered at the South Bank Centre and went on to tour Kew Gardens, Big Family Festival and Colston Hall. Further dates for 2018 are anticipated at Bath Literary Festival and Stratford upon Avon Literary Festival amongst others.
Sophie has undertaken a wide variety of teaching work varying from workshops in the community to regular contributions at Rose Bruford Drama College. Sophie is on Twitter @SophiePowell
Briony Collins - 2016 Exeter Novel Prize
Briony is a writer currently based in North Wales, though she grew up in Leicester, and attended high school in the United States. She has been writing since she was eight, but only began to take her work more seriously in 2016. She entered the Exeter Novel Prize with the opening of Raise Them Up, which began as A-Level college coursework, in September 2016.
Raise Them Up was inspired by her fascination with the Civil Rights Movement, and the struggles that many racial minorities still face today, as the fight for equal rights continues. Most of her writing takes on voices of people that are underrepresented in literature. As Briony said in an interview with Ty Newydd Writing Centre in 2017, “I think art has such immense potential to bring about change, and to bring balance to parts of the world which are still imbalanced and unfair.”
In addition to prose, Briony also writes plays and poetry. In April 2017, she attended a residential writing course at Ty Newydd, where she was tutored by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, and Gillian Clarke (National Poet of Wales, 2008-16). Her motivation to pursue poetry came about when her poem ‘Divorce’ was longlisted in the 2016 National Poetry Competition.
She attends Bangor University where she studies English Literature and is represented by DHH Literary Agency.
Laura Guthrie - 2016 Exeter Story Prize
Laura is an Inverness-based writer employing whatever medium she feels will best realise the muse that is blowing through her mind at the time. To date she's written stage plays, prose, songs and poetry. Her poetry tends to be short, and is often surreal, childlike, flippant or parodic. Her poems have been anthologised by several presses such as WomenWords, Early Works Press, and the Federation of Writers (Scotland).
Laura has been telling stories since she was a toddler. In 2004 a short story entitled The Day I Woke Up With Wings was awarded second prize in the secondary schools category of the Neil Gunn Writing Competition. Since then she has written three plays, two of which she has put on with her independent profit-share theatre company, Sunrise Theatre. Her first play, Katiana Was Here, was performed at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe, and is published online with Lazy Bee Scripts HERE
Her Exeter Story Prize story, Oh Cheeses, is her first attempt at a piece that is itself largely about writing. It is somewhat inspired by, and marks a tribute to, one of her poet-friends.
Laura is currently finishing her first novel, which forms part of her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.
Richard Buxton - 2015 Exeter Story Prize
Richard Buxton grew up in Wales but has lived in Sussex for the last thirty years. He is a proud 2015 graduate of the Creative Writing Masters programme at Chichester University. He studied in America during his twenties which proved to be a formative experience as when, in recent years, Richard began to write, he set most of his stories stateside.
The American Civil War is his fascination, in particular how that traumatic event has shaped the America of today. He tries to return there as often as he can for research and inspiration. Earlier this year, he completed a collection of short stories which explore the long shadow cast by the Civil War.
Winning the Exeter Story Prize in 2015 with Battle Town was probably the biggest surprise of Richard’s life. Further surprises followed. He won the 2015 Bedford International Writing Competition and the 2016 Nivalis Short Story award and was therefore forced to take himself slightly more seriously.
In April 2017 he self-published his Civil War novel, Whirligig, which he likes to describe as somewhere between Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe novels and Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain. Whirligig has since been shortlisted for the Rubery International Book Award. His second novel, The Copper Road, is in the works.
You can find out more about Richard on his website HERE
His Amazon page is HERE
Lucy Welch - 2015 Exeter Novel Prize
Lucy lives in Surrey with her husband and two children as well as two quail, three gerbils and four Bantam hens - and one cat which lives in a state of hopeful anticipation. She works at a lively community centre which she loves even though that means getting up at 6am at the weekends to squeeze in her writing.
She won both the Exeter Novel Competition 2015 and the Flash500 Novel competition 2013. She has flash fiction published in 'A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed' and a short story in 'Hysteria 4' and was both Highly Commended and Commended in the Winchester Writing Competitions.
When her 10-year old daughter asked for a story, Lucy discovered how much she enjoyed writing children's fiction. She is now busy with several Middle Grade projects and spends much of her time in imaginary worlds.
She is not yet represented but - like the cat - lives in hopeful anticipation.
You can find out more about Lucy on her website - www.lucywelch.tk
Clare Harvey - 2014 Exeter Novel Prize
Clare Harvey was born in Barnstaple, North Devon, and lived there until just after her seventh birthday, when her family moved to Mauritius for two years. After living overseas, she moved to Surrey, and then later back to Devon, where she went to secondary school and took a foundation course in art and design.
She read Law at the University of Leicester, but chose not to follow a legal path, deciding instead to do voluntary work in Tanzania and hitch-hike from Zanzibar to Cape Town, where she stayed for a year. After her African adventure, she worked for an overseas charity, picked up a journalism qualification, and fell in love with a soldier. Much to her parents’ dismay, a safe career as a solicitor never looked likely!
She has had an itinerant adulthood, working variously as a freelance journalist, radio reporter and English tutor in Nepal, Germany and Northern Ireland, and England, as the trailing spouse of a serving soldier.
Her debut novel, The Gunner Girl, won the 2014 Exeter Novel Prize and went on to be published by Simon & Schuster in 2015. The Gunner Girl also won the Joan Hessayon Award for debut romantic fiction in 2016. Since then Clare has also had two further books published: The English Agent and The Night Raid.
Clare now writes full time, and lives with her family in Nottingham.
You can get in touch with her on social media, or via her website:
Simon & Schuster author page: http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/authors/Clare-Harvey/576635850
Su Bristow - 2013 Exeter Novel Prize
Su Bristow grew up in Surrey, before gaining a place at Girton College, Cambridge, where she studied Archaeology and Anthropology.
A consultant medical herbalist by day, Su is a keen drinker of tea, a choral society member and rower of many miles in front of the television. She has written two books on herbal medicine, and two on relationship skills.
In January 2017, Orenda Books published Su's debut novel, Sealskin, winner of the inaugural Exeter Novel Prize. Set in the Hebrides it is a re-working of the Scottish legend of the selkies, or seals, who can turn in to people. Novelist Jane Johnson says, "I love books in which magic takes on a gritty reality and Sealskin is just such a book. Dark and brooding and half-familiar, the tale steals over you 'till you're half-in, half-out of a dream.”