Alumna's first novel scoops award

Alumna's first novel scoops award

Congratulations to Fiona Williams (Spurgeon’s 1994) for winning The Bridport Prize First Novel Award 

Fiona Williams (née Green) (Spurgeon’s 1994) has won The Bridport Prize First Novel Award with her book, The House of Broken Bricks. Born and raised in South-East London (she joined Alleyn’s in 1987) Fiona’s current life on a smallholding on the Somerset Levels provided the rich backdrop for the novel, which explores what it’s like to be black, in a mixed race marriage and living in a rural part of the west country.  The novel was judged by bestselling author, Victoria Hislop who said, ‘I’d never read anything like it before. It took me into a new experience. It’s about a mixed race marriage and very openly and honestly describes all the difficulties that can occur.’

Fiona says ‘When friends and family from London visit they love it, they come every summer and leave feeling refreshed but they’d be too afraid to live here. I hope this book opens up a little slice of that for black readers, and for white readers it shows the juxtaposition of being black in the countryside and also how anyone can belong to it and celebrate the beauty of it. You get how difficult it is but also how the beauty of the place hugely overrides the difficulties.’

The Bridport Prize, now in its 49th year, is an international writing competition which was begun and continues to help fund Bridport Arts Centre. Passionate about discovering writing talent from around the world, previous winners include novelist Kate Atkinson MBE, Kit de Waal and Deepa Anappara. Former judges include Monica Ali, Roger McGough and Zoe Heller. Many writers have launched their careers with The Bridport Prize and ended up on the best sellers list. 

When she isn’t writing prize-winning novels, Fiona is a freelance science writer working for the pharmaceutical and health industries. She is also a copyeditor for the journal Transnational Literature. She began writing her first novel, The House of Broken Bricks, while completing an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and the manuscript was also shortlisted for the university’s Janklow & Nesbit Prize. She is currently researching her second novel and hopes to embark on a PhD in Creative Writing next year. You can find her on Twitter @FeeWilliams75 

Listen to her interview on Radio Somerset here (starts at 18:10 mins)

Photo credit: Justin Owen.