Hemel Hempstead writer wins thriller category in UK's biggest competition for unpublished authors

Hemel Hempstead based author Maria Clark has been announced as the thriller category winner of The People’s Friend New Writers Prize. The People's Friend has been providing readers with feel-good short stories since 1869, and to celebrate its 155th anniversary, the magazine launched a £10,000 writing bursary, the UK’s biggest prize for unpublished authors.
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To mark its 155th anniversary The People’s Friend has been searching for the best hidden writing talent, running the UK’s biggest competition for unpublished authors.

Writer and actress Sally Lindsay was Head Judge of the competition and said: “The People’s Friend is something every writer knows, and as a writer myself, I love how it champions stories and creativity. The award for new writers is a wonderful idea and I’m so pleased to be leading the judging panel and helping find a brand-new author and help them with their career.”

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Maria’s story, 'On Lancaster Sands', is a historical thriller set in 1849 at Morecambe Bay, England. Morecambe Bay is a well-known beauty spot, but when the tide goes out, it becomes a deadly quicksand. In the 19th century, many travellers used to follow guides known as Carters across the sand to get from one side of the bay to the other, but this often resulted in tragedy. Inspired by real-life events, this story focuses upon Clara, who lost her fiancé, Felix, in one such accident on the sands. Having returned to her hometown from London, she struggles to confront her past.

Maria ClarkMaria Clark
Maria Clark

To celebrate its 155th anniversary, The People’s Friend recently unveiled a fresh new look and last week launched a new initiative with Head Judge Sally Lindsay to encourage the nation to pick up a short story and read for just six minutes a day, or the time it takes to enjoy a hot drink. The campaign follows a study commissioned by the ‘Friend’ revealing that most Brits (78%) are craving more time to themselves a week.

To enjoy a weekly dose of uplifting fiction, subscribe to The People's Friend or pick up a copy at your local newsagent. For more information about the magazine, the writing bursary, and how reading can improve wellbeing, please visit www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk