Writeidea Prize 2014

The Winners

On Sunday 16 November Alex Wheatle announced the Winner of the Writeidea Prize 2014 at an awards event at the Writeidea Festival. The Winner was: What You Do for Love by Melanie Whipman.

Melanie Whipman receives her winner's cheque from Alex Wheatle

Melanie Whipman receives her winner’s cheque from Alex Wheatle

Runner-up, Rowena Macdonald received the Tower Hamlets Prize for the highest entry from a Tower Hamlets resident.

Rowena Macdonald wins the Tower Hamlets Prize

Rowena Macdonald wins the Tower Hamlets Prize

Five of the seven finalists were able to make it to the awards ceremony.


Finalists (from left to right) Melanie Whipman, C.G. Menon, Tracy Fells, Farrah Yusuf and Rowena Macdonald with Alex Wheatle.

All the finalists read excerpts from their stories and a member of Idea Store staff read from the stories of Andrew Blackman and Umi Sinha who were unable to be present on the day.


We were honoured by the number and range of stories sent in to the Writeidea Prize 2014.  We received more than 300 — a third of which were from local writers.

We found many more good stories than we could longlist, and deciding which ones would feature on the list was a difficult task.  Some stories that didn’t make the cut will stay with us nonetheless.

Deciding on the finalists was no less difficult – we would have been happy to award any of the longlistees a prize.  We congratulate them all on their achievement, and hope that their stories will soon be published or prizewinners elsewhere.  When the writers’ identities were revealed we were excited to see a mix of familiar names and new discoveries – as well as amused that one writer had made the list three times, with three very different stories.

For reasons that will become clear later, we have seven finalists rather than the intended six.

The stories are available for you to download as a PDF and read yourself. Please note that the stories deal with adult themes and that some contain strong language.

We are delighted to present…

The finalists

I’m Not a Cab – Andrew Blackman (Beckenham, Kent)  Read story

Lone Wolf – Tracy Fells (Ashington, West Sussex)  Read story

Phosphorescence – Rowena Macdonald (Tower Hamlets)  Read story

Songs From the Old Country – C.G. Menon (Tower Hamlets)  Read story

India Syndrome – Umi Sinha (Newhaven, East Sussex)  Read story

What You Do for Love – Melanie Whipman (Surrey)  Read story

Caged – Farrah Yusuf (Tower Hamlets)  Read story



Andrew Blackman is a former Wall Street Journal staff writer, now concentrating on fiction. His latest novel A Virtual Love explores themes of love and identity in the digital age. His debut novel On the Holloway Road won the Luke Bitmead Writer’s Bursary and was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize. His short stories and essays have also won awards, including the $5,000 Daniel Singer Millennium Prize, and have been published in a variety of magazines and journals in the UK and US. He is currently working on a third novel.

Tracy Fells

Tracy Fells lives and writes close to the South Downs in England. She’s won and been placed in numerous competitions for both fiction and drama. Her short fiction is published online and in anthologies. She was shortlisted for the 2014 Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize and runner-up in the 2013 HE Bates Short Story Prize. Currently Tracy is working on her first novel and enjoying an MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University.

Rowena Macdonald

Rowena Macdonald’s debut collection, Smoked Meat (Flambard Press) was shortlisted for the 2012 Edge Hill Prize. She has been published in many anthologies and is represented by Jamie Coleman at Greene & Heaton. She lives in Bethnal Green and works at the House of Commons and Westminster University.

CG Menon

CG Menon has lived in England for the past six years, splitting her time between Cambridge and London. She was shortlisted for the first Words and Women prize awarded in March 2014, and the 2014 Willesden Herald prize. She has stories in the associated anthologies, and others published or forthcoming in a number of venues including a Stupefying Stories anthology.

Umi Sinha

Umi Sinha has an MA in creative writing and taught on the two year Certificate in Creative Writing at the University of Sussex for ten years. She teaches creative writing classes and workshops, runs a performance storytelling club and offers a mentoring and manuscript appraisal service for writers called Writing Clinic .  She has had short stories published, including in Cosmopolitanmagazine and in a Serpent’s Tail anthology and has written children’s historical and mythological comic books. Her first novel Belonging will be published by Myriad Editions in September 2015.

Melanie Whipman

Melanie Whipman grew up in Brighton, and has lived in Germany, France and Israel. She now lives near Guildford with her family and an assortment of other animals. Her MA in Creative Writing was awarded the Kate Betts prize, and her short stories have been broadcast on Radio 4 and published in various magazines and anthologies. She is a PhD student and an associate lecturer at the University of Chichester, and is currently editing her short story collection which will be published by Ink Tears next year.

Farrah Yusuf

Farrah Yusuf was born in Pakistan and grew up in London. A graduate of LSE and UCL, she is a solicitor turned charity worker who began writing fiction two years ago. Her first short story, ‘Milk’, was published in Five Degrees: The Asian Writer Short Story Prize 2012 Anthology. Her short stories, ‘Burnt’ and ‘Zoya’ were published in the SADAA Against the Grain 2013 collection and ‘Follow Your Dreams’ is to be published in an anthology in late 2014. She took part in Kali Theatre TalkBack 2014 to develop her first play and is currently working on a novel. www.farrahyusuf.com


The longlist

Englishman’s Tea – Emma Allotey (London)

Gnaw – Judith Amanthis (London)

The Tide Turned – Gillian Best (Tower Hamlets)

The Sarmoset – Ruth Bushi (Carlisle, Cumbria)

The Heart Lies Open – Alice Charles (Ilford, Essex)

I Hear What You Say – Tamsin Cottis (London)

Bill Rowse – Tony Curtis (Barry, Wales)

Silver – Gill Darling (Manchester)

Miracle? – David Evans (Wallasey, Merseyside)

Mawkin – Zoe Gilbert (London)

Live Meat and Freedom – Rowena Macdonald (Tower Hamlets)

Hard as Nails – Rowena Macdonald (Tower Hamlets)

A Feeling Like Sadness – Jamilah Syal (Tower Hamlets)

Judge: Alex Wheatle is the author of several novels including Brixton Rock and Brenton Brown. He was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2008. See Alex talking about his writing and the Writeidea Festival.

The Writeidea ESOL Prize

The Writeidea ESOL Prize is a local short story prize for learners enrolled on Idea Store Learning ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses.


A panel of experts judged the short stories, the title which was “An Important Journey”.

There were three categories, according to learners’ abilities:

Category 1: Pre-Entry – Entry 1 ESOL WINNER: Mariana Ilyes

Category 2: Entry 2 – Entry 3 ESOL WINNER: Rina Begum

Category 3: Level 1 – Level 2 ESOL WINNER: Iwona Wawro

Iwona Wawro

Iwona Wawro collects her prize from Sergio Dogliani, Deputy Head of Idea Store