This year, the theme for the GDST Creative Writing prize was ‘New Rules for the future world’ and the entries were judged by Rachel Hore, an alumna of Sutton High School.
Rachel attended Sutton High School between 1970 and 1978, after which she read Modern History at St Catherine’s College, Oxford. For many years she enjoyed a career as an editor for HarperCollins in London before moving with her family to Norwich, where she started to write fiction and taught publishing and creative writing part-time at the University of East Anglia.
Rachel thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the entries from different year groups and she found it very difficult to select the winners.
Years 1 & 2
Ella Woodcock – Brighton Girls – Kiki Learns his Lessons
Ella dramatised the deforestation crisis in an engaging fashion and created a wonderful cast of characters for her lively animal fable. She has a nice turn of phrase, a confident voice and the story ended with much aplomb.
Years 3 & 4
Tess Nathan – Notting Hill & Ealing High School – Thoughts of the Moon
Tess’s first person voice is full of vitality in this upbeat story of a family taking a spacecraft to a new life on the moon. She engaged splendidly with the likely thoughts of a young girl in these circumstances and used vivid language to describe her ideas. I loved the thought of energy from Sirius being used to power wind and fly kites!
Years 5 & 6
Dia Nair – South Hampstead High School – New Rules for the New Age
This story stood out for its unusual subject matter; the ethics involved in programming driverless cars. Dia dramatised well an imaginary test legal case, drawing out the human tragedy carefully and movingly and using dialogue to explain the ethical arguments. It’s a well-structured story, too, vividly and crisply written.
Years 7, 8 & 9
Jessie Ward – Oxford High School – /Filtered/
Jessie’s story engaged me with its distinctive subject matter – resistance to a microchip for humans – but also through her storytelling skills, her impactful use of dialogue and her inventive language. I liked the linguistic device she used to convey the ‘adult chips’ in action and also enjoyed the tinge of humour. The story was well structured and nicely paced and the ending was just right!
Years 10 & 11
Rhiannan Stewart – Nottingham Girls’ High School – Overpopulated
I was hooked from the first sentence of Rhiannan’s shocking narrative concerning a critically over-populated world. She went on to draw me into the scene she evoked by her perceptiveness, skilful dialogue and the use of vivid imagery.
Years 12 & 13
Leila Lambert – Royal High School Bath – You Are what you Eat
In this political story about the ethics of eating meat Leila takes a shocking and original sideways sweep at the question that took my breath away. The teenage viewpoint manages to be detached and chilling yet passionate all at the same time, to horribly unsettling effect. Leila’s skills of description are impressive and the final sentence nails her message.
Rachel Hore is now a full-time writer, the author of ten novels, several of them Sunday Times Top Ten bestsellers. A Place of Secrets and Last Letter Home were each selected by Richard and Judy for their Bookclub in association with WH Smith. The Glass Painter’s Daughter (2009) was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Romantic Novel of the Year. A Gathering Storm (2011) was shortlisted for their Historical Novel of the Year. Her most recent novel is The Love Child, which follows the story of an adopted child in the 1930s who is searching for her birth mother.