Highland creative writing centre names new talent winners

Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre.

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Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre, and The Bridge Awards have announced the winner of the 2022 Emerging Writer Award: Natalia Theodoridou, a fiction writer born in Greece, with roots in Russia, Georgia, and Turkey and based in the UK.

The winner will receive a tailor-made package worth up to £2,000, which includes tuition via open courses, retreat time and/or mentoring at Moniack Mhor.

The judges were unanimous in their support of Theodoridou’s work in progress, a short story collection built around themes of transformations, loss – of place, of others, of self – and methodologies for existing in worlds where one never wholly fits.

Titled Attempts on The World, the stories exist in the interstices between literary and speculative fiction.

Tracey Emerson, author, and creative director at The Bridge Awards said: ‘His stunning writing blew us away as soon as we read it and we can’t wait to see him develop his talent further during the course of the award.’

Natalia Theodoridou said: ‘I spent the week after learning I won Moniack Mhor’s Emerging Writer Award in a state of disbelief, half-expecting a follow-up email in which I’d be informed that, regrettably, some mistake had been made. Yet here we are! It’s an honour and such an incredible vote of confidence.

‘I applied for the award hoping to be given the space, time, and support necessary to work on my debut short story collection; for all writers, but especially for marginalized ones, that licence can be as vital as air.

‘When describing my work, I said many of the worlds in my stories are utopias where people take care of each other, for once. I wasn’t expecting my little shot in the dark to be answered so kindly and so soon. I am grateful.’

Theodoridou is a queer writer of strange stories that exist in the interstices between literary and speculative fiction.

The second-place finalist for the prize is Lucy Steeds, a writer based in London, who will receive a course, retreat, or the equivalent in one-to-one mentoring.

The judging panel have also chosen three additional writers as Highly Commended. Andrea Mullaney, Gabrielle Johnson and Sally Hughes will each receive a £150 bursary for Moniack Mhor.

Moniack Mhor Writers’ Centre is situated in a beautiful rural location in the Scottish Highlands, 14 miles outside Inverness. Since 1993, Moniack Mhor has been working with the finest writers from the UK and beyond to deliver creative writing courses, retreats and other support for writers of all ages and abilities and from all walks of life.

The Bridge Awards is a philanthropic venture that provides funding for the arts. This support is given in the form of annual awards and regular micro-funding opportunities.