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Inspiring the next generation of storytellers

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Farnham Literary Festival’s schools’ programme has touched and inspired nearly 2,000 young people from nine local schools.

The schools’ programme was organised by The Blue Bear Bookshop and funded by Farnham Town Council. The initiative saw the authors Reshmi Bennett, Sophie Deen, Ben Martynoga, Robert Tregoning, Neill Cameron, Matt Brown and Nishani Reed visiting participating schools where they read their own books and took part in a question-and-answer session.

Farnham Town Councillor Kika Mirylees, Chair of the Literary Festival Steering Group says: “The schools’ programme is a wonderful initiative which aimed to get young people more interested in reading. One of the outcomes that surprised us was the enthusiasm the students showed for writing their own stories. There were some great ideas, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the not-too-distant future, we see one or two best-selling authors coming out of Farnham.”

Farnham Literary Festival’s First Five Thousand writing competition also inspired older authors to get writing. The competition attracted 155 entries from budding authors in the UK, Germany, France, Switzerland, Australia, America, Canada, and Nigeria.

Writers were invited to submit the first 5,000 words of their novel and a 300-word synopsis. There was no set theme or style of writing – the only requirement was that the work should be original and unpublished. 

The task of creating the longlist fell to a panel of four award-winning bestselling authors which included B.A. Paris, Melanie Whipman, Gill Thompson, and Louise Morrish. The panel was chaired by the acclaimed author Suzanne Goldring. Of the 12 longlisted entries, five were shortlisted. The winner was Mountain Tigers by K.F. MacCarthy and the runner up was Ellen MacDonald-Kramer for Crowning Glory

Judge and author Louise Morrish said: “Ultimately, for me, the winner’s writing was vivid, compelling, beautiful and well-edited.”

Farnham Town Councillor Kika Mirylees, Chair of the Literary Festival Steering Group says: “It was wonderful to receive so many entries and for it to attract international interest – it shows that the Farnham Literary Festival really is for everybody! 

“The standard of entry was extremely high, and I hope that anybody who made it to the longlist will feel proud of their achievement and motivated to complete their book because I for one, want to know how the stories end!”

The overall winner received £100 plus a literary critique, the runner up won £75, and the three shortlisted writers received £50. 

All five shortlisted works are published on the Farnham Literary Festival website at

Farnham Literary Festival was sponsored by the Bush Hotel and Moonflower and coordinated by Farnham Town Council. 

Full list of results

The results of the First Five Thousand writing competition are:

First Place: Mountain Tigers – K. F. MacCarthy

Runner-Up: Crowning Glory – Ellen MacDonald-Kramer

Highly Commended:

Little Mice – Tara Crowe

The Listeners – Jennifer Greenland

The Pilots Watch – Cynthia Anderson


Aether – Jim Duffy

Beyond the Tipping Point – Jill Lamond

Migratory Patterns – Margaret Sessa-Hawkins

Monkeys in the Minarets – Manjit Dhillon

Second Favourite – Linda Jorgenson

The Girl Who Slept Through Starlight – Sara Amelie Spence

Wondrous Rare – Zoe Owens

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