“I’ve been involved with the Bridport Prize since the novel award was set up. It’s always exciting when you receive the longlist because you never know what you’re going to get and it could be 20 things that are completely different or quite similar. Then the excitement that within there are going to be some real gems no one else has read before.

This year the four people on the shortlist all had different approaches and were trying to do different things and that made it more interesting. Everyone has different life experiences and that was one of the reasons for setting up the prize in the first place to try and find writers from different backgrounds and give them an opportunity.

I’ve worked in publishing for 20 years and one of the things about being a writer before you’re published is it can be a very lonely place and you get a lot of knock backs. Something like the Bridport Prize, yes there’s a financial aspect to it but it also gives winners, runners up and shortlistees a way into the publishing industry. Just being on the shortlist is a great achievement given the amount of submissions and I hope that gives writers confidence, whether they win or not, that their work was judged on its merits.

Writing is so subjective, you’re entirely at the whims of other people starting out and to be told what’s good and what’s not can be very bruising. So to be told by other people who don’t know you, actually we think what you’ve done is good, hopefully that gives people the added belief to keep going.

Publishing has always been hard because many people want to write and there’s only a certain number of books published and that’s got more difficult as bookshops have disappeared. It’s always been quite a closed industry but now it’s changing, slowly. It’s much more aware that we need voices from as wide a breadth as possible but prizes like this give another opportunity to writers to be discovered.”

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