Student story-tellers secure Hall Caine prizes

Prize winners at the Hall Caine Memorial Creative Writing awards ceremony, Manx Museum  First prize winners Catriona Dorrian, Harry Snape, Willoughby Whittle and Emma Hawke with Gloria Rukeyser and Tim Crookall, Minister for Education

Prize winners at the Hall Caine Memorial Creative Writing awards ceremony, Manx Museum First prize winners Catriona Dorrian, Harry Snape, Willoughby Whittle and Emma Hawke with Gloria Rukeyser and Tim Crookall, Minister for Education

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It was the end of a journey for young story-writers who entered a prestigious annual competition.

Gloria Rukeyser, great-granddaughter of celebrated Manx novelist Sir Hall Caine and competition sponsor, presented prizes to the 51 winners of the annual fiction writing competition that bears her ancestor’s name.

Students in full-time education were invited to pen a short story, a memoir or the opening chapter of a novel on the subject of ‘journeys’.

The competition attracted a record 1,045 entries, 445 more than last year.

The winners of the Hall Caine Prize for Creative Writing gathered at the Manx Museum on Friday to be rewarded by Mrs Rukeyser, who, like her famous ancestor, is a writer and journalist and whose family still occupies the novelist’s former home, historic Greeba Castle.

Mrs Rukeyser told winners: ‘I’m always interested in why a writer chooses to write a certain type of fiction and I was happy to see how varied the top entries are.

‘We have mystery, we have fantasy, we have strong, fast-flowing narrative to draw us in, we have characters that we care about.’

Entries were in four categories: Primary, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5/Isle of Man College, with cash prizes totalling £2,235.

Judges scored the entries on strong characterisation, good narrative flow and imaginative story-telling.

Emma Hawke, a Year 6 pupil at Cronk-y-Berry School, won the first prize of £100 in the Primary category with her murder mystery story, The House.

Emma, who usually writes action and adventure, said: ‘I was inspired by a talk given recently by local author Chris Ewan on how he writes mystery novels and decided to use his ideas when writing this story opening.’

In Key Stage 3 (ages 11-14), Ballakermeen High School student Catriona Dorrian took the first prize of £150 with fantasy story Carriage 13.

Catriona said: ‘I like reading fantasy novels. They give me lots of ideas. There was no special inspiration for this story: the ideas just flowed.’

Key Stage 4 winner (ages 14 to 16), and the recipient of £175, was St Ninian’s High School student Willoughby Whittle, who was highly commended last year. His story, The Journeyman, is about the voyage of the wind as it travels from North Africa, over the Atlantic to America, and the events it sees and creates.

‘I got the idea for my story when I was sitting at my desk,’ he said.

‘I was writing some initial ideas when a strong gale rattled my windows.

‘This got me thinking on how the wind travels around the world, and the things it must experience.’

Key Stage 5 winner Harry Snape, who is at Queen Elizabeth II High School, was presented with £200 for his entry, Leather Bound.

‘My story was inspired by my own dreams of becoming a published author, and my feelings are mirrored in my entry,’ Harry said.

‘As a lover of reading and a regular visitor to the Family and Mobile Library since the age of two, I have always enjoyed a good story and my ambition has always been to write one of my own.

‘The Hall Caine Prize gave me the opportunity to do this, for which I am very grateful.’

Education Minister Tim Crookall MHK said: ‘To win a writing competition at this age is a superb achievement and shows you have the talent to go much further. We may be in the presence of the next JK Rowling or Michael Morpurgo.’

The competition is open to students in full-time education in the island. The theme for 2013/14 will be announced in September.

Booklets containing the winning work will be available in schools and public libraries.

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Read the winning entries by using the links below:

Leatherbound by Harry Snape

Carriage 13 by Catriona Dorrian

The House by Emma Hawke

The Journeyman by Willoughby Whittle

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