Alicia Ehrecke, Inver College, Carrickmacross Photo: HotPress
A 17 year-old secondary school student from Inver College in Carrickmacross Alicia Ehrecke has been shortlisted for the Hot Press ‘Write Here, Write Now’ short story award. The top prize is an internship with the Dublin-based magazine later this year. The overall winners will also receive a €250 cash prize, a Certificate of Achievement from WRITE HERE, WRITE NOW and a Toshiba Click Mini and Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Mouse. They’ll also have their winning entry published in a special issue of Hot Press, a significant achievement that will greatly enhance the CV of any young writer.
Each of the 22 winners will receive a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365, an invaluable tool for students and creative types. The overall winner will be announced tomorrow. Alicia comes from Cottbus, a university city in Brandenburg, near Berlin in Germany. Until 1990 and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the area was part of the GDR (East Germany).
Alicia is among forty students who have made the final list from thousands of entries. She has been studying at Inver College since the end of August last year. She says she is looking forward to returning home on Friday after her eight months stay, hosted by a local family. During her time in County Monaghan, her parents came over to Ireland on holiday with her older brother and two younger sisters and they went on tour for a week, taking in Dublin, Galway, Donegal and the Giant’s Causeway.
Roddy Doyle heads the panel of judges who will decide the winners. The public can also have their say by looking at the shortlisted entries including Alicia’s and voting online at hotpress.com/writeherewritenow for the ‘Write Here Write Now’ Readers Award.
Over the years, Hot Press has nurtured some of Ireland’s finest creative talent in music, literature, writing and journalism. Now, as part of a celebration of one of the great modern Irish sagas – The Barrytown Trilogy by Roddy Doyle – Hot Press, in association with the One City, One Book Festival, has uncovered the very best new, student writing talent in the country. The competition is supported by the Dublin City Libraries, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Eason and Microsoft Office 365.
The judging panel consists of Man Booker Prize winner Roddy Doyle, IMPAC Award winner Kevin Barry, Rooney Prize winner Claire Kilroy, Hot Press editor Niall Stokes and composer / songwriter Julie Feeney.
“There was a huge level of interest in the competition, with thousands of entries pouring in,” Hot Press editor and chairman of the judging panel, Niall Stokes said. “It was really tough narrowing this tsunami down to a shortlist, but that’s what you have to do. In the final analysis, all of the judges were in agreement that the quality of the shortlisted entries was extraordinarily high, and that we have uncovered some remarkable young Irish writing talent. Everyone who is on the shortlist has good reason to feel very proud, as indeed do the schools and colleges in County Monaghan. In that sense, they are all winners”.
Roddy Doyle himself has commented that some of those shortlisted are “frighteningly good – surprising, sharp, sometimes chilling, confident.” On the evidence of the shortlisted entries, Ireland is teeming with young people with real writing talent.
For his three novels, Roddy Doyle invented a suburb on the north side of Dublin and called it Barrytown. The challenge for students, in this unique writing competition, was to create, in a similar way, an imaginary new place, as the location for a piece of creative writing; to set the scene; describe the surroundings; create a sense of the environment and its people; to capture the language they use; to tell enough of a story to draw readers in and to evoke the special qualities, or atmosphere, of the students’ imaginatively constructed local area. They did just that – and with aplomb!