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2018 Word Factory Apprentice Award Winners Announced

It is a tremendous honour to welcome a wonderful group of writers to the Word Factory family – the winners of the 2018 Word Factory Apprentice Award. Please say hello to Georgina Aboud, Sharon Telfer, Natalie Theodoridou and Farhana Khalique – and to specially commended writers Stephanie Scott and Emily Ford.

I am particularly proud that the award – offering a place in the Word Factory community and year long mentorship – has created a new template for developing writing talent that other organisations have adopted. The award offers a whole year of mentorship and community of support focussed on great work – work that has won previous winners recognition in the literary world and . But “career success” is not the focus – quality of writing and collaborating with other writers is. The award has also demonstrated the strength, aliveness and diversity of British talent in the five years it has been running.

Enormous thanks to all our supporters, apprentices and judges – and this year in particular to mentors Courttia Newland, K.J Orr, Tom Lee, Jenn Ashworth and my fellow judges Jenn and Paul McVeigh.

The amazing support of the Northern Writers’s Awards and New Writing North has meant that for the first year, we are able to offer a place and bursary for travel to one winner from the north. Recognising the quality of our writers, the Society of Authors is also offering each free membership to their organisation.

What we write transforms not only ourselves but the world around us. So let’s get on with it.

–Cathy Galvin. Director and founder, The Word Factory



In association with the Northern Writer’s Awards and New Writing North


The four winners of the Word Factory 2018 Apprentice Award were announced last night at a packed Word Factory salon at Waterstones Piccadilly, London. Emerging writers Georgina Aboud, Farhana Khalique, Natalie Theodoridou and Sharon Telfer were selected from hundreds of applicants for this innovative year-long short-story writing development scheme.

This year, in order to include one writer from the north of England in the list, Word Factory were delighted to be supported in the award by New Writing North. Judges were Paul McVeigh, Cathy Galvin and Jenn Ashworth.

Each Apprentice will receive a year’s free access to all Word Factory events and masterclasses with leading authors, career development and industry support, as well as intensive mentoring from renowned writers Courttia Newland, K.J Orr, Jenn Ashworth and Tom Lee.

The award, now in its fifth year, has offered a template for similar schemes across the country and has actively promoted a range of writers from diverse backgrounds. Winners have all been widely published with mainstream and independent publishers, winning and being shortlisted for national awards. Others have found representation from a range of leading agents including Nikesh Shukla and Clare Alexander.

Word Factory is an innovative, writer-led creative organisation supporting excellence in short fiction. The award is the brain-child of Word Factory’s associate director, Paul McVeigh and founder and director Cathy Galvin, both sharing working-class backgrounds and a passion for the transformative power of literature. McVeigh’s debut novel, The Good Son, won the Polari Prize in 2016. Journalist and poet, Galvin is the founder of Word Factory and the Sunday Times EFG short story award.

Word Factory has committed to offering an apprenticeship to one BAME writer a year and to date the majority of our awards have gone to writers with BAME backgrounds. This year the judges were delighted to see an increasing diversity in age range with one of the winners, Sharon Telfer, in her fifties.

The winners will join the Word Factory team in an exciting year in which writers will be encouraged to become part of the contemporary cultural discourse. Galvin’s artistic programme of readings, debates and special events Citizen The New Story, ran throughout 2017 and this year has seen a focus on writers pushing the boundaries of the form. Recent collaborations include a day of suffragette flash fiction, written and performed at London’s Tara Theatre, and the publication of the first Word Factory imprint, The Guillemot Factory, four illustrated pamphlets from Jessie Greengrass, Carys Davies, David Constantine and Adam Marek.

The award has attracted the support of partners including Arts Council England, Waterstones, New Writing North and the Society of Authors.

“Publishers are now making more determined steps to seek a diverse range of writers for their lists: they really do not have to look very far. It has never been more vital that talented British writers from every community are encouraged to find their voices and to understand the power and responsibility of language and of good writing,” said Galvin. “Our wonderful new apprentices are joining us in an exciting year when we will be inspiring powerful new work.”

Claire Malcolm, Director of New Writing North said, “Sharon Telfer’s story of a life trapped and frozen by grief stood out for her pitch-perfect voice and quietly devastating storytelling. Her use of language is precise and subtle, with sparkling phrases and images that make you pause for breath. She has a huge amount to gain from working with Jenn Ashworth as her mentor under the Word Factory’s brilliantly productive programme, and we’re delighted to be in a position to support her to develop as a writer.”

Galvin announced the winners at a salon launching a 2018 series of reflective writing essays with Deborah Levy and Cynan Jones.

For more on the programme: www.thewordfactory.tv/events


Georgina Aboud photo - Word Factory

Georgina Aboud

Georgina Aboud lives in Brighton, where she works as a freelance researcher and writer. She has an MA in Development Studies and a Certificate in Creative Writing. Much of her working life has been spent in international development focusing on gender, climate change and food security. She has also worked as a carer, a TV and film extra and a dog sitter. She is currently working on a collection of short stories and a novel, and is the 2017 winner of the Moth Short Story Award.

Natalia Theodoridou photo - Word Factory

Natalia Theodoridou

Natalia Theodoridou is a media & cultural studies scholar and a writer of strange stories. Her work has appeared in Kenyon Review Online, The Cincinnati Review, Ninth Letter, Neon, Litro, and elsewhere. She is also the dramaturge of Adrift Performance Makers (@AdriftPM), with whom she experiments with interactive fiction and immersive, digital performance. Natalia was shortlisted for the 2018 New Media Writing Prize. Originally from Greece, she has lived in Chicago, London and Portsmouth, and Bali. She now lives in Devon.

Farhana Khalique photo - Word Factory

Farhana Khalique

Farhana Khalique is a teacher, voiceover and writer from south west London. Her short stories have appeared in various publications, including the Dividing Lines (2017) and City of Stories (2017) anthologies, and she was recently shortlisted for The Asian Writer Short Story Prize 2018. Her next story will appear in the first issue of The Good Journal.

Sharon Telfer photo - Word Factory

Sharon Telfer

Sharon Telfer grew up on Teesside and lives in East Yorkshire. She worked in charity communications for many years and is now a freelance editor. Her creative writing took off in 2015 when she discovered flash fiction. Her flash fiction has won prizes, including the Bath Flash Fiction Award. She’s one of the editing team at FlashBack Fiction, an online litmag focused on historical flash fiction. Her stories often have a loose historical setting and she is influenced by magical realism and fairytale: the collision of the strange and the everyday. She’s looking forward to using her Apprenticeship to develop her understanding of the distinct demands of short stories and to meet other writers who love the form.

Special Recommendations:

Stephanie Scott photo - Word Factory

Stephanie Scott

Stephanie Scott was born and raised in Singapore. She read English Literature at York, Cambridge and Oxford and worked in Investment Banking in New York, London and Rome before leaving finance to write full time. Her debut novel, The Sentence, is set in modern Japan and Stephanie has been awarded the BAJS Toshiba Studentship for her anthropological work on Japan as well as the Arvon Jerwood Prize for Literature, the Writer’s Centre Norwich Inspires Award and runner up in the Bridport Peggy Chapman First Novel Award for her novel in manuscript form.

So far, Stephanie’s short fiction has focused on South East Asia where she grew up. Her stories, poetry and flash fiction have been published in Mslexia, the Fish Prize Anthology and the London Short Story Prize Anthology and shortlisted for the Glimmer Train Short Fiction Prize and the Bridport Prize on several occasions.

Emily Ford photo - Word Factory

Emily Ford

Emily Ruth Ford is a writer and translator living in North London. She has a degree in English from Oxford University and spent ten years as a journalist for The Times and Agence France-Presse, with postings in China and India. In 2016 she returned to the UK to study on the MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. She won the Royal Society of Literature’s V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize 2017 and was long-listed for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2018. She speaks Italian and Mandarin, and is currently at work on her first novel.

We are currently celebrating the news that former Word Factory Apprentice Claire Adams’ debut novel will soon be published by Faber.

“The Word Factory Apprenticeship was a huge boost, and it came at a time when I really needed it. It brought me into contact with other writers who were at a similar stage to me, which was wonderful for the sense of camaraderie, and also a sense of validation, i.e. not feeling like I was the lone crazy fool who had decided to dedicate so many years to this unprofitable endeavour! And my mentor, Jacob Ross, was also a massive help, not only in terms of the encouragement he gave me, but also on the nuts-and-bolts on the writing side: he helped me untangle the problems I was having with my novel’s structure, for example, and helped me move past a bottleneck I’d been stuck on for months. Also, both Jacob and I are from the Caribbean, and it was very useful to be able to discuss Caribbean literature side by side with literature from other countries.” Claire Adam.

Photo details: Eloise Wales
All further enquiries: Cathy Galvin

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