Winner of the 2016 Author of Tomorrow Award, Alice Sargent, speaks about what winning the award has meant to her 

Winning the 2016 Author of Tomorrow Award has undoubtedly had a massive effect on me and particularly on the way in which I envisage my future. Previously, I’ve had very little confidence in my abilities and although I have loved writing stories for many years, I never imagined that other people might get some enjoyment from them too. Having recently been honoured with such a prestigious award however, my view on this has changed significantly and I now believe that I might actually be able to pursue my writing on a more professional level.

The Author of Tomorrow Award has also impacted upon my academic choices at school. Prior to writing my story (The Cherokee Rose) I had never comprehended how much research had to be undertaken before even the shortest of stories can be made realistic. Indeed, during the writing of my story, my admiration for Wilbur Smith grew as it occurred to me the extent to which he must have fastidiously researched his novels. Consequently, I chose History as one of my A-levels, because it will develop my writing capabilities and teach me how to research events in order to deepen my knowledge of the past. My intentions are to graduate from university with a History degree, before using the skills I have learnt to enhance my writing.

Before I entered this competition, I had never actually attempted writing adventure stories, so this award has also inspired me to explore unfamiliar writing styles and genres in the future. The competition has broadened my horizons, both in the literary and geographical sense. I feel it has awakened an adventurous streak in my personality by enthusing me to travel abroad, in order to research and experience the settings and cultures in my writing. In the not-too-distant future I would love to discover the United States and carry out more detailed research on the tribal history of the “West”, around which my winning story The Cherokee Rose was based.

Winning the award has been a really uplifting achievement, and I would like to express my gratitude to the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation for all their encouragement and support.