Sophie Duffy wins Luke Bitmead Bursary

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From the Exeter Express & Echo, news of a success for one of our members:

Sophie celebrates top writing award

AUTHOR and mother-of-three Sophie Duffy has won the third Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary.

Mrs Duffy, from Teignmouth, has received £2,500 and a publishing contract with Legend Press for her novel The Generation Game.

The novel, which is primarily set in Torquay, will be published this summer.

The 42-year-old, who is a member of the Exeter Writers Group, said she was delighted as she has been writing seriously for ten years.

She said: "I'm really relieved the hard work is paying off. I'm very grateful and I'm going to use the money to buy a new laptop.

"I'm now really looking forward to working with Legend Press and seeing my book published."

The bursary was set up by Luke Bitmead's family in association with Legend Press, after Luke's tragic death at the age of just 34. The bursary aims to encourage and support the work of struggling, talented writers whose work is yet to be published.

The judging panel included best-selling authors Sam Mills and Zoe Jenny, Luke Bitmead's mother and sister, and Legend Press representatives.

Tom Chalmers, the managing director of the Legend Press, said: "The judges were impressed and charmed by Sophie's witty and refreshing style of writing.

"The theme running throughout is original and ties in exceptionally well with the plot.

"The balance between the two shows Sophie's true writing talent, and delivers a humorous depiction of the challenges we face, in a sensitive and enthralling way."

Mrs Duffy, whose writing has been compared to that of Kate Atkinson and David Nicholls, said: "The Generation Game is a novel about a girl who grows up with a strange family and comes to realise that family means people who love you.

"It's a bit funny and a bit sad. It's set against the backdrop of national events such as the royal wedding and the miners' strike."

She finished the novel around four years ago, and has since written another, This Holey Life, which was runner-up in the Harry Bowling Prize in 2008. Mrs Duffy, who has had a number of short stories published, has just started work on a third novel. Her children are now aged 12 to 15, but when they were small, Mrs Duffy started an evening class in creative writing. This led to her doing an MA in the subject.

"I've always loved English and read a lot," she said. "Once you start writing, it becomes addictive."

She volunteers as a youth worker but finds a few hours during the day to write. For 14 years, Mrs Duffy was a teacher. She said that one day, perhaps, she would teach creative writing.

- Express & Echo, January 27, 2011

See also the Legend Press website, which has a report on the presentation ceremony - see Bitmead Bursary evening.

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