The event, celebrating the talent and creativity of the young people of Nottingham, crowned a number of winners in different categories, together with an exhibition celebrating the 89 finalists. 

In the Creative Writing category, the winners were: Anya Bansal (11-15 yrs), Maia Redgate (16-18 yrs) and Georgia Hamblett (19-24 yrs), who claimed the top spots out of 52 entries. 

These writers were chosen by a panel of judges from multiple organisations; Andrew Tucker (Young Creatives Nottingham), Edwina FitzHugh (Potter Clarkson), William Ivory (Writer), and our very own Paty Bennett. 

After their wins, we interviewed each of the winners to find a bit more about them and their future plans… 

Anya Bansal, 16 (15 at the time of submission)  ‘A Series of Firsts’
Anya Bansal stands on stage holding her winner's certificate, with a judge on either side of her.

Photo by Luke Brennan

‘No passport, no visa, no money. When consulted, his family were very supportive; however, he was still battling with a blizzard of nerves and confusion.’

The judges felt that this piece “skilfully weaved the past into the present, Anya’s sincere and vivid story charts her grandfather’s journey from Bombay to Naples to Nottingham. This is an assured piece of writing – sensitive story-crafting from an exciting young writer.”

What inspired you to create the winning piece of writing at the YCA? 

My story was inspired by my grandfather’s childhood and his journey from India to England. It wasn’t extremely conventional, and still isn’t to move out of India to forge a new life in England and like many others who do this, he faced a lot of issues. My grandfather passed away a few years ago but he’d always wanted someone to tell his story. 

There are so many untold stories out there and so I wrote this story to explore a completely unfamiliar life and journey and explore my own background and ancestry. 

What advice would you give to other young people that may not know where to get started with their writing? 

People always say to write what you know. For me, that was quite conflicting as I didn’t find the things I knew story-worthy. I wanted to explore life beyond what I knew. 

To anyone who’s struggling with ideas I would encourage them to explore and talk to people, finding out stories from family and friends. Everyone has a story waiting to be told and if just one intrigues or resonates with you, that spark might be enough to light a fire. 

I guess if you do this, you are still writing what you know – just learning more to facilitate this!

Do you have any book recommendations? 

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – Bryan Mealer & William Kamkwamba 

Children of the Dust – Louise Lawrence 

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak 

What are your hopes and plans for the future? 

After sixth form I would like to study law at university. It has always been my dream to live in Spain so maybe that will happen too! 

Maia Redgate, 17 – ‘Why Don’t You See Me’
Maia Redgate stands on stage holding her winner's certificate, with a judge on either side of her.

Photo by Luke Brennan

‘Chairs scraped against the wooden floor as the final stragglers sat down, the unnerving screech being the only sound in the room. Everyone held their breath. Then…footsteps.’

The judges thought: “cobblestones, apothecaries and a complaining cat – Maia’s fantastic story, which concerns a young woman who suddenly becomes invisible, is magical and tongue-in-cheek. It’s not easy to have the judges so engrossed – we needed to know what happens next!” 

What inspired you to create the winning piece of writing at the YCA? 

When trying to decide on a theme for my piece this year I wanted to make something I would enjoy writing, instead of trying to create something for the judges, so I went with the same theme I chose last year: witches, just in a different direction. The witch trials are an interesting topic for me with a lot of cultural and religious history, and are still relevant today, whether literally or metaphorically. 

I wanted to write something a little lighter this year and craft a magic world reminiscent of Kiki’s Delivery Service, a favourite film of mine, whilst keeping the usual dark and mysterious tone of my writing. And so, I ended up with the opening to a magical disappearance, with just the right amount of confusion and cobblestones. 

What advice would you give to other young people that may not know where to get started with their writing? 

My advice is, “if you don’t write about something that excites you, you won’t write anything good”, the person who should be the most excited to read your work should always be yourself, and then the others will follow. 

Do you have any book recommendations? 

Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea – My lifetime of debt to Waterstones began the moment I opened that book at age 10. 

What are your hopes and plans for the future? 

I have a place on a Creative Writing course down in Falmouth that I’ll be off to in September, where I hope to continue to live and work creatively. In the future I’d love to work with literature on the daily. 

Georgia Hamblett, 23 – ‘The Making of Merrier Men’
Georgia Hamblett stands on stage holding her winner's certificate, with a judge on either side of her.

Photo By Luke Brennan

‘‘Oh fabulous! A full house! It will be just like home!’ ‘Just like home,’ Andriy repeated. He looked at the bouquet of flowers, fresh, on the windowsill. Maybe this time, things would get brighter before they began to wilt.’

According to the judges, the story is: “comical, off-the-wall, empathetic and reflective – it takes real talent to be all these things at once. Georgia’s tale of war-time immigration, set against the turbulence of school life, is a bravura effort from a powerful new voice.” 

What inspired you to create the winning piece of writing at the YCA? 

Growing up, I enjoyed creative writing, but it was really during lockdown that I began to write more and experiment with different voices and styles, finding writing a great distraction from everything that was going on. I like to write about things relevant to modern affairs, especially telling stories from different perspectives, or from a voice which might not usually be heard. 

Over the past few years, news of the war in Ukraine has been shocking and upsetting, and this inspired my story. I have been touched hearing stories of people welcoming Ukrainian families into their homes and set this as the basis for my story. I wanted to tell the story through the eyes of a child who struggles making friends at school and fitting in – things which are relatable to many people, not just refugees of war. 

I wanted to convey that really, we’re not all that different and can choose to be united, not divided, through our struggles, and that embracing people from other backgrounds can be a wonderful thing. I found this could be communicated most beautifully through the eyes of a child. 

What advice would you give to other young people that may not know where to get started with their writing? 

I’d consider myself only at the start of my writing, so I’m not sure how qualified I am to answer this! Personally, I think embracing your own natural voice when writing is a fabulous thing, allowing your own quirks of speaking to influence your writing, and not restraining yourself to keeping your work too formal. 

I also think it’s important to expose yourself to a whole range of different life experiences, learning to make mental (or physical) notes of little things you may see or hear that could form the basis for a character or story, as well as educating yourself on different people’s views and stories. 

Do you have any book recommendations? 

I’m actually quite a slow reader, but enjoy reading a range of fiction and non-fiction. I’m currently reading Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes, and think she does an amazing job of tackling serious issues in a relatable and often humorous way. 

On the non-fiction front, I’ve just begun reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Haran. I find non-fiction can be really inspiring for creative writing, as it opens your eyes to different contexts and backgrounds. 

What are your hopes and plans for the future? 

I’m just finishing studying Product Design and Manufacture at the University of Nottingham, and am starting a graduate engineering role at JCB in the autumn. I’m really hoping to continue working on my writing – I’ve written a few full-length novels as well as many other shorter pieces, and one day would love to create something worthy of being published.

 

Congratulations to Anya, Maia, Georgia, and to all the other winners – we can’t wait to see where your success takes you! 

If you are interested in taking part at the Young Creative Awards next year, keep an eye on their website and social media accounts for the chance to participate!