Kettering student makes shortlist for 2022 BBC Young Writers’ Award

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The competition is a collaboration between BBC Radio 4 and Radio 1 and Cambridge University

A sixth form pupil at a Kettering school been picked as one of the shortlisted writers for a prestigious national award.

Bishop Stopford School student Emily Betts is down to the last five for the 2022 BBC Young Writers’ Award with Cambridge University.

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Her nomination was announced live on BBC Radio 1’s Life Hacks programme.

Emily BettsEmily Betts
Emily Betts

The stories – though diverse in setting, character and voice – all explore relationships, love and intimacy in varying forms, in under 1,000 words.

Katie Thistleton, chair of the 2022 BBC Young Writers’ Award judging panel, said: “What a year of exceptional entries! It has been an absolute privilege to read so many bold, and yet quietly intimate, stories of such astonishing quality.

"Relationships seem to be a real focus for our shortlisted writers this year, and yet each has found a totally unique and original – sometimes subversive – way to explore the subject, whether drawing on lived experience, or subjects they are passionate about. I’m in awe, and I know my fellow judges feel the same.

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"Each and every writer on this list has a brilliant writing future ahead of them and I can’t wait to see what they do next.”

Now in its eighth year, the competition is open to all writers between the ages of 14 to 18 and was created to discover and inspire the next generation of writers. It is a cross-network collaboration between BBC Radio 4 and Radio 1.

Seventeen-year-old Emily’s story ‘Bite’ has been described by the judges as ‘an excellent example of urban gothic’. In the story a teenager is forced to sell her blood to a vampire to support her ill mother.

Emily said she wanted to explore how vampires could retain their horror in a modern setting, with her fascination ignited by a research project and her discovery of vampire myths across cultures and throughout history.

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It was her research on vampires for the school’s Mythology Society that inspired her shortlisted story.

The five shortlisted stories will be read by professional actors and also be available to read on the BBC Radio 1 website. The winner will be announced live from the award ceremony at BBC Broadcasting House on Radio 4’s Front Row on Tuesday, October 4, from 7.15pm.

Joining Emily on the 2022 BBC Young Writers’ Award shortlist are ‘Dandelions’ by Nabiha Ali, ‘Little Acorns’ by Elena Barham, ‘Peach’ by Eshana Dasanjh, and ‘The Poltergeist’ by Dora Fidler.

Nikita Gill, one of the judges for 2022 BBC Young Writers’ Award, added: "These stories are tales so rich in imagery, lyrical words and with such unique plots! I feel honoured to have read through these truly exceptional stories and would like to commend all the writers for the way they have handled even the most difficult subject matter with nuance and great care. The quality of this year's entries is beyond brilliant and I look forward to seeing these writers continue to thrive in their excellent work."

The shortlisted stories can be read and listened to online at: www.bbc.co.uk/ywa.

The five shortlisted stories and interviews with the writers are available to listen to on the BBC Sounds app.