City of Stories 2017
competition winners


Spread the Word is pleased to announce the winners and highly commended writers of the City of Stories competition. In June, twenty library services across London welcomed over 450 aspiring writers to free creative writing workshops, led by a team of fantastic, established writers as part of the City of Stories.

Workshop participants were encouraged to enter the City of Stories competition for 500 word stories, submitted anonymously. We were inundated with entries from writers across the capital, and our City of Stories judges Bidisha, Irenosen Okojie and Courttia Newland had the difficult task of whittling the entrants down to the winning and highly commended stories.

For each borough, one winner and up to three highly commended stories were chosen by the judges.

Spread the Word is pleased to share the names of the winning and highly commended writers for each borough, with a bio of the writers who created them. The results are showcased in geographical order, starting in North London and working clockwise through the city. All the stories will be published in the City of Stories booklet, which will be published on November 1. Limited numbers of the anthologies will be available for free for participants at the City of Stories November events which are for adults and free to attend, and the anthology will also be available to purchase from the Spread the Word website from 1 November 2017. The November events will feature writing workshops and readings from the winning and highly commended writers and an opportunity for other event participants to read their work too.

City of Stories 2017 winners 


Winner: Elizabeth Uter: Water

Elizabeth Uter has taught poetry workshops for Farrago Poetry and Kensington & Chelsea Library Services. Performance Poet at UK Slams & Festivals. Two short plays commissioned by The Actors’ Centre & Barking & Dagenham Library Services. Published: SouthWestFest Magazine & Barking & Dagenham Poetry Anthology 2016.

Highly Commended: Kristel Tracey: The Man Who Wanted To Be A Tree

Queen Nefertiti in a past life. Reborn in Luton as a pleb. Reinvented as a too-much-to-say-for-herself Londoner and aspiring writer.


Winner: Sinead Beverland: Night Tube

Passionate about storytelling, I’m a writer and Film graduate living in South London. I blog about new discoveries, am penning a collection of short stories and my first feature script is currently in development.

Highly Commended: Charlotte Forfieh: Earbuds

Charlotte Forfieh lives in a Folkestone. She writes slipstream-y short stories and screenplays – if it’s a bit out there she’s probably into it. She is currently studying an MA in creative writing at Birkbeck, University of London as a Kit de Waal Scholar.

Highly Commended: Kim Horrocks: Ab Alto (From Above)

A single female northerner, with two babes in arms, who scurried to London in the 80’s to escape the rest of her life being held back by old fashioned sexist values. Believes the Arts are the only gateway to the truth of the human condition and the liberation from oppression. Loves dogs more than humans. Has many flaws. Cheeky. @OKKIMMY on Twitter


Winner: Liam Hogan: The Bridge

Liam Hogan’s twisted fantasy collection, Happy Ending Not Guaranteed, is published by Arachne Press. His award-winning story, Ana, appears in Best of British Science Fiction 2016. He’s often found on stage hosting Liars’ League. Find out more at

Highly Commended: Clare Palmer: Grief

Clare Palmer has been writing short stories for five years, and was published for the first time last December. As a family carer, much of her time is spent in learning disability training and activism. She lives in Islington.

Highly Commended: Pam Williams: Soul Talking

I’m a fifty-something Londoner of Grenadian heritage; a former fashion journalist/stylist – now a trainee teacher. Creative writing was my secret love but I’m finally sharing my stories and performing my poetry and dream of touching people with my words.

Highly Commended: Andres Ordorica: He Was Brixton Blue

Andrés is a graduate of The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama. He is the 2016 Winner of the Bloomsbury Festival’s Short Story Slam. He is passionate about sharing stories that reflect his world: queer, brown, beautiful and unapologetic.


Winner: Danielle Higgins: Wise Owl! Eyes Like A Hawk

Danielle Higgins is a local artist and lecturer who finds inspiration from the vibrant plentitude of birdlife, nature and communities within the Springfield and River Lea areas of Hackney.  Danielle graduated with an MA in the history of art in 2013, and since then has creatively indulged in building a portfolio of illustrations accompanied by short stories that explore the theme of anthropomorphism.

Highly Commended: Anna Latimer: The Crow

I discovered my love of writing late after a career as an artist, photographer and teacher. I have been writing for about five years and am currently working on a novel.
Photo of Anna by Bjanka Kadic

Highly Commended: Jon Fortgang: Tommy’s Snake Tattoo

Jon is published by Galley Beggar Press and has been a winner/finalist in prizes run by Writers & Artists, BritWriters and more. After a decade as a journalist, he now works in his local library where he helps run a writer’s group. A novel is under construction.

Waltham Forest 

Winner: Ruth Goldsmith: Watch and Wait

Ruth writes short stories when she’s trying to find a constructive way of avoiding her work in progress. While she loves creating fiction, she finds it really, really difficult to write her own author bio.

Highly Commended: Lauren Miller: Marseille Eats Toast for Dinner

Lauren Miller performs her poetry and fiction regularly in London, and recently studied a masters in creative Writing at Birkbeck. Her work has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and Fish Poetry Prize, and in 2016 her short story “Warm Feeling” was published in the anthology Mechanics Institute Review 13.

Highly Commended: Katherine Davey: Warrior of the No. 68 

I’m reader, a writer, and – for money! – an editor. I belong to the very wonderful writing group, Free Lunch, and along with words, I love people (some in particular), art, trees and birds.


Winner: Josephine Phillips: The Death of Old Raffy

Born and bred in Canning Town.  Have always worked.  Am a committed and active member of WASPI.  Enjoy reading, writing (one of the Rathbone Writers), local history, lots of walking and zumba/dance.  Very opinionated, always have something to say.

Highly Commended: Julie Browne: The Watcher

I am 66, semi-retired.  I live alone very happily with my cat.  I have many hobbies including knitting, crochet, sewing, studying Ancient Greek and growing tomatoes and chillis on my window sills. I love live theatre – fringe rather than the West End! I used to write when i was young, but life overtook me, so I am coming back to it afresh. I have loved being part of Rathbone writers and hope to continue.

Highly Commended: Saundra Daniel: Devil’s in the Detail

From my earliest memory, I have been surrounded by books, and since primary school, story – regardless of format – has been one my biggest writing influencers.  I’m indebted to my parents who constantly encouraged creativity, open mindedness, and perseverance.


Winner: Anna James: Acropolypse

Anna James lives in the borough of Redbridge, where she enjoys helping children to embrace their creativity and gain confidence as writers. She has studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and loves to write about London.

Highly Commended: Harvinell Tatton: Britain Lost and Found

Harvinell is a children’s librarian with a passion for storytelling and writing. Married with two sons, she believes her faith enables her to enjoy life and help others to do the same, by taking them on a literary adventure.

Highly Commended: Claire Baker: Living

Since childhood I have loved creating stories that allow you to experience the joy and mystery of another world or another person’s life.   I belong to a writer’s group where I regularly write short stories and poems.

Barking and Dagenham

Winner: Victoria Taylor: I Can’t Look

I am 46 and married with three children. I volunteer at my local library and attend a weekly writing group. I have written a book which I hope to publish soon and have another two in the planning stage.

Highly Commended: Clare Vasiljevic: Timings in a City 

Clare Vasiljevic is a lover of words whether reading, writing, or eavesdropping on strangers conversations. Clare is  working for a women’s charity, raising her wildly energetic toddler and snatching moments in  between on the bus and after midnight to write her second novel.

Highly Commended: Sharon Outten: Harry 

There’s not a lot to say about me really apart from my hobby is writing short stories.  I have lived in the Borough of Barking and Dagenham since 1999 and really like living in this area very much and like to go to my creative writing group and attend creative writing events to get ideas to help me with my story writing.


Winner: Janet Poaros: One For Sorrow

Born in Tunbridge Wells: lived in Kent, Dorset and then Cyprus with my late husband. 3 children. 7 grandchildren Taught ceramics in Cyprus & U.K. I enjoy designing/creating stories, gardens, recipes, artworks and ceramics: love reading, dancing, theatre, traveling.

Highly Commended: Mary Jupp: Standing Up

Studied creative writing with OU towards Humanities degree, then switched to Open College of The Arts to complete degree in CW.  I write in a variety of genres and voices. This is my first published story and I’m delighted!

Highly Commended: Tony Clelford: On The Shelf

 Tony Clelford is finishing his novel about identity theft and media manipulation in a time of financial meltdown – set in 1720.

Highly Commended: Lorna McCook: Man’s Best Friend

Retired schoolteacher. Mother and grandmother with a keen interest in arts and crafts. Definite animal lover.


Winner: Aris Tsontzos: That Killer, Anxiety

Aris Tsontzos is a database manager from London. He is an English graduate, a keen volunteer and a fan of talking about things and writing things down. He has always had a soft spot for stories.

Highly Commended: Tom O’Brien: Knife

Tom writes short stories and flash fiction. He has been published in the Uncommon Lands, Blood & Bourbon. DEFY! and Blink Ink print anthologies and many places online.

Highly Commended: Han Smith: The bear that ruined the wedding / Like the very gods in my sight

I am a writer, a reader, a teacher and a learner, currently quite interested in islands, tides and gender.


Winner: Aaron Cox: Herd & Splinter

Aaron grew up in Sydney and has an MA in Creative Writing. His short stories have received commendations at the London Short Story Prize (2016), BBC Radio 4’s Opening Lines and US journal Glimmer Train. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

Highly Commended: Yovanka Paquete Perdigao: Crying Cobalt Blue

Yovanka Paquete Perdigao is a Bissau-Guinean writer, editor and translator. Her poetry has been published in Brittle Paper, her translations in Jalada and her writing in the Guardian, English Pen and AFREADA.

Highly Commended: Simon Higgs: Daredevil

Professional gin drinker and library guy, but never at the same time. Wrote a novel three years ago and has been editing it ever since.

Highly Commended: Anita Goveas: Some Family Recipes Are Not Written Down

Anita Goveas  is British-Asian, based in London, and fuelled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. She was published in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology.


Winner: Vicky Richards: Seer, Unseen

Vicky Richards moved to London two years ago from Shropshire. By day she edits children’s non-fiction, and in her spare time she pretends to work on a historical fantasy novel.

Highly Commended: Lucinda Offer: Washed Up

Lucinda Offer is a keen amateur photographer and wildlife observer who can often be found exploring parks and anywhere with water. She is involved with community garden projects and a mental health charity in Croydon, where she lives.

Highly Commended: Lynne Couzins: Alice

It has been fifty years since I last entered a writing competition.  The first was run by Jackanory when I was a child,  I was disappointed that my story didn’t win anything. This time I am happy!


Winner: Oksana Wenger: A New and Better World

While trying to write a novel I realised I needed to translate my father’s memoirs (into English), which I’m now hoping to publish. Concurrently I can’t resist writing short stories but this is the first time I’ve actually won anything.

Highly Commended: Sophie Ronald: A Bench, A Scar

Sophie grew up in Surrey and moved to London after graduating from Nottingham University almost a decade ago. She now works at a media agency, and in her spare time enjoys music, writing, art and films.

Highly Commended: Joanne Gale: Flat 

Jo is an actor. She has written and solo-published two children’s picture books The Rare Monkey with the Colourful Bottom and The Rare Monkey, Can’t, Couldn’t, Can!


Winner: Susan Hodgetts: My City

Susan Hodgetts is an actor and playwright with a Masters’ Degree in Writing for Performance. She has had plays produced at the Network Theatre and RADA.

Highly Commended: Robert McCann: Guardian Angels

Robert McCann works in aviation and enjoys running, swimming, writing, reading and fine art. He lives in South West London.

Highly Commended: Roger Dean: Silence Please 

I’m 62 years old, I used to work as a finance officer for Kingston Council until I took the option of early retirement in April 2015. I have always enjoyed writing stories, mainly short stories but have completed some longer ones, over 400 pages. This will be the first time I will have anything in print so I’m honoured and delighted.   


Winner: David Bottomley: Midday Dave

David is Literary Manager of the Jack Studio Theatre, a playwright, poet and creative writing tutor. He has had plays produced in London, Edinburgh and America. Originally from Yorkshire, he has been resident documenting the landscape and characters of London for nineteen years.

Highly Commended: Farhana Khalique: On the Bridge

Farhana Khalique is a teacher, voiceover and writer. She has been teaching English for over ten years, is often heard on TV as an announcer for Channel 4, and her stories have appeared in Carillon and The Asian Writer magazines.

Highly Commended: Sandra Wareham: Ghosts of Brixton

 I have attended various creative writing workshops/courses (mainly within Lambeth). I enjoy writing about first generation West Indians and second generation Black British. I enjoy reading and World Cinema.


Winner: Jude McGowan: We Have More in Common Than Divides Us

77 year old widow – 2 girls (Kate died in 1980). Worked in publishing / with children in care / older people and now retired. A humanities degree in 1988. Supported a very disabled husband for 10 years and now am getting my life back together.

Highly Commended: Rashpal Bagal: Responsibility

Rashpal Bagal believes that the world is full of amazing stories. On the tube to work or watching the world while sipping coffee, tales are created in front of us. He wants to write many more of these stories.

Hammersmith & Fulham

Winner: Elaine Lowe: Ritual

Elaine Lowe is a Bookseller at Pocketshop Hammersmith. Ritual is her first credited piece of work. She is an avid reader and her passion is travel whenever possible.

Highly Commended: Linda Mundy: The Streets of London

Linda lives in West London and is married with two grown up children.  She started to write short stories this year, and was delighted that this piece was Highly Commended.  Her hobbies include reading, swimming and photography.

Highly Commended: John Lewis: My Story

I am 51 years old and I live in Shepherds Bush.  I have self published a novel called ‘The British Alien’ on Amazon and I am hoping to write a follow up to it.   

Kensington and Chelsea

Winner: Sara Hafeez: Candy

I’m a librarian from South London. Always observing, learning, and writing.

Highly Commended: Elisabeth Guss: Eau de Chat

I’ve worked in publishing in the US, UK and France as a freelance editor. Also in films in this country as a researcher/story editor.  My education was in the US and I did graduate work in French at Stanford University.  I moved to the UK  in the sixties and have dual  nationality.  I was a single parent and my son is an artist concerned with human rights.  My writing is unfinished, unedited and unpublished.

Highly Commended: Alison Catchpole: There Be Dragons 

Alison arrived in London after reading Experimental Psychology at Oxford.  Her subsequent teaching career has included state and independent schools in London and five years in Brussels.  She has an MPhil in screenwriting and divides her time between W11 and Somerset.


Winner: Elizabeth Shoda: The Day Mum Won The Lottery

Elizabeth Shoda currently works for a cancer charity but dreams to be a full-time author. She is currently writing a Christian fiction novel she intends to finish by the end of the year.

Highly Commended: Yvonne Bowden: Brioche

Born in London but have lived in France for many years. I have done all sorts of jobs since leaving school at 16. I have always loved writing. Love art. Love travelling

Highly Commended: Tamara Galloway: The Meeting

Tamara Galloway was born, brought up and still lives in Orpington. She enjoys words, music and science. She sees things through other creatures’ eyes, becoming vegetarian at six, when she connected animals in fields and what was on her plate.

City of Stories is managed by Spread the Word in partnership with the Association of London Chief Librarians, and funded by Arts Council England. The City of Stories anthology will be published in November 2017, and be available for free for City of Stories event attendees in November, to borrow from the twenty participating library services and to buy from the Spread the Word website from 1 November 2017.

Published 9 October 2017