English: Author Suzanne Joinson Awards First Year Travel Writers

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Bede’s First Year pupils had a rare treat yesterday when award-winning novelist and travel writer Suzanne Joinson stopped by the School’s Miles Studio Theatre to share anecdotes about her extraordinary experiences, explain her creative process and award five young winners of the Into The Wild Travel Writing Competition.

The afternoon started with Suzanne holding the audience enraptured with tales of her work for the likes of Granta, The Guardian and The New York Times. She shared details of her many voyages all over the world, from walking the ancient streets of Jerusalem to dangerous cab rides in Moscow to wandering around markets in the remotest corners of China, the latter of which informed her first novel, The Lady Cyclist’s Guide To Kashgar.

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“When I was at School, I remember having a meeting with a Careers Advice person,” Suzy said, “and the advisor sat there with a folder full of jobs. She said, ‘Why don’t you want to be a Chiropodist, or a Dentist?’ I knew that I either wanted to travel or write, or do a combination of the two, and if I could remember that advisor’s name today then it would be tempting to post her a copy of one of my books!”

After reading an extract from Reaching Bliss, a story featured in the collection An Innocent Abroad, and discussing the origins of her recently-published second novel The Photographer’s Wife, Suzanne sat with Bede’s Head of English Mr Oliver and discussed the challenges of writing for a living.

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After delving into the relationship between writing and travelling, and discussing her literary inspirations during her time at school, Suzanne then answered a number of wide-ranging questions from the many budding writers in the audience.

To conclude the event, Suzanne awarded five of Bede’s exceptional First Year writers, recognising runners-up Tilly Richardson, Adam Bradley, Ellie Bostock-Smith and Jade Beeching, before giving the first prize to Charleston House’s Lola Britten-Hepper whose story Dominion of Light won out from over 140 individual entries.

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Mr Oliver said of Lola’s writing, “Not only was her piece excellent as a whole but it contained so many moments that linger and cannot be easily forgotten. She is a thoroughly deserving winner of the Into The Wild competition and has a genuine talent. We now look ahead to our next First Year writing competition, The Dark Future, which will take place after half term.”

He added, in conclusion, “Everyone in the English department would like to thank Suzanne for making the time to come and speak to us in such an imaginative and inspirational way. I sincerely hope that the lucky pupils in attendance will feel emboldened by her bravery when it comes to their own writing – even if they never wind up in a hostage situation or face-to-face with a Yemeni wielding an AK47.”

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