In the second of three reports on the ninth Chudleigh Literary Festival, held earlier this month, we’re focusing on the afternoon’s activities for writers, ably compered by Jackie Juno. We bring you results of the Face the Chudleigh Dragons competition, and feedback from some of the people involved.
There were six writers pitching their latest novels to our panel of industry experts: Veronica Bright; Paula Harmon; Brenda Hutchings; Paul K Joyce; Ella Montgomery and Angela Wooldridge
It was a close-run thing; the judges and several members of the audience commented on the quality of all the presentations and the difficulty in choosing a winner. And in the end, it proved an almost impossible task. So the judges cheated a little bit!
The overall winner was judged to be Ella Montgomery with her entry The Metamorphosis of Holly Blue. Ella was delighted and had this to say about her experience:
“When I heard I was shortlisted to face the Chudleigh Dragons at the Chudleigh Literary Festival, I was excited and nervous. Six novelists were shortlisted to pitch to the Dragons and when I heard the first two pitches I thought, wow, what great novels these writers have written. I was convinced one of the first two contestants would win so that took the pressure off me, but when I stood up on stage and had to pitch my novel in five minutes (not very long but seemed like a lifetime) and face an audience, it was very daunting. Nevertheless, I did it and as my novel is a comedy I was relieved to hear a few chuckles from the audience. After we had pitched, the judges took a break to decide on the winner and, to my surprise, during the break, five people came up to me and said they would buy my novel if it was published. I was really pleased, as it proved there is an audience for my work out there, something I had not been too sure about.
When the judges returned, they gave a short critique on each novel, all positive and much welcomed. When they announced I was the winner, I was surprised but delighted. And the prize of having Sophie Duffy critique my work made the nerves all worth while. Thank you Chudleigh Writers for the opportunity to showcase my work.”
After the initial announcement, the judges told us they were awarding a runner up prize to Angela Wooldridge for her entry The Merewoods Witches. Both Ella and Angela will receive a one-to-one session with founder of Lintzpress, Lorelely Amiti, who was acting as a dragon for the first time this year. Angela had this to say about the surprise announcement:
“All the pitches were so good that I was just relieved not to have fallen on my face, so I was completely gobsmacked when my novel was called out as the runner up.
Many thanks to the dragons for all their time and effort, and to the audience for such a supportive atmosphere.”
And talking about the audience, one of the writers who joined us for the festival this year was recently-appointed Grand Bard of Exeter, Kimwei McCarthy. His feedback on the day’s proceedings was as follows:
“As well as a fantastic programme all day, which had completely changed my perspective on life and writing within the first hour and continued in the same vein throughout, the festival created a wonderful space for meeting other writers and networking.
There was a friendly atmosphere in all the breaks, meals and chat sessions which encouraged even the shyest of writers to share their stories. Even as someone relatively new to writing, who could potentially be nervous, I found myself talking openly to published poets and novelists, who were wholly positive about my creative journey. It was amazing how free everyone was to share their writing process and I learned a great deal from this, as well as getting some moral support about the tough stages. I felt truly listened to and came away inspired and enthused, ready to to return to my own writing.”