THE GOAT BURSARY launched on 1st August 2016: a bursary for an unpublished writer in need of financial support to attend the Festival of Writing. An overwhelming 250 writers applied.

Joanna Cannon, along with her agent Sue Armstrong, judged the entries on a 500 word sample of their writing and a letter explaining why they would like to attend the Festival. Due to the quality of the submissions, Joanna decided to award not only an overall winner, but also offer a runner-up prize, and we were all too willing to provide a day ticket and overnight stay for this.

The winner of the Goat Bursary 2016 is …

Linda Duncan McLaughlin from Glasgow, who has been working on her novel ORIGINAL SINS since 2010. The novel opens in a limo which “smells faintly of cleaning fluid but there are finger marks on the window beside me, and a tiny piece of sparkly confetti, spoor of someone else’s happiness, glints in a corner.” Joanna and Sue were very impressed by Linda’s writing, and intrigued by the last line. They both would have liked to read on, which in a 500 word sample is quite an achievement.

Linda Duncan McLaughlin stood out from the herd of entries.
Linda receives The Goat Bursary which includes two nights’ campus accommodation, all meals, a festival pass and travel expenses, and is worth over £800. The bursary also includes editorial feedback from Joanna’s agent, Sue Armstrong at Conville & Walsh.

Runner-up Nasreen Rafiq has just turned 40 and is writing her first novel, SUNSET HOUSE, in which acid attack survivor, Riffat Ali, converts her quintessentially English house into a communal home for the Asian elderly. Nasreen receives a day pass to the Festival of Writing including Saturday night accommodation, with travel expenses covered by Joanna.

Joanna Cannon commented, “I was thrilled by the number of entries we received, and very reassured by just how many goats are out there. Most importantly, there are many wonderful working class and BAME voices waiting in the community, and I do hope The Goat Bursary goes some way in helping these voices to be heard. Linda and Nasreen both stood out to us as people who had continued to believe in their ability as writers, despite many setbacks, and I feel confident the Festival will offer them a much deserved and unique opportunity to reinforce that belief.”

“Attending the Festival of Writing would offer an unbelievable opportunity to access help of a quality just not available anywhere else.  The practical workshops would offer the chance to gain invaluable tips, skills and knowledge; and a one-to-one with an agent and publisher would immeasurably sharpen up my understanding of how to approach them and hopefully, even, open a door for the future.  In short, attending the Festival would offer me the vital support/motivation/kick-in-the-pants/leg-up that would be of such value at this point in my career” added Linda Duncan McLaughlin.


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