International Prize for Local Author

Multi-award winning author, Simon Van der Velde has become the first north-east writer to win the prestigious Wasafiri International Fiction Prize, for his story, The Bearer.

Simon, of Gosforth, Newcastle, was awarded the prize on Sunday 21st September, at the Thames Literary Festival, beating off competition from 469 entrants from all over the world.

The five person short-list was announced in August, with writers from Australia, Greece, Ireland, Jamaica, and Newcastle-upon-Tyne making the cut.  Then, amid strict secrecy, the finalists were invited to the awards ceremony on a cruise down the Thames.

‘We are pleased to say that the decision was unanimous,’ said Monique Roffey, on behalf of the judging panel.  ‘One story stood out, head and shoulders above the rest.  The traumatic, heart-breaking tale of The Bearer, by Simon Van der Velde.’

‘Of course, I’m delighted to have won,’ said Simon, ‘and grateful to my fellow writers, and to everyone at Wasafiri for their generous praise.’

 ‘Writing can be a lonely business, without the immediate feedback that an actor or musician receives.  Sometimes we all wonder, is this really working, or are we just talking to ourselves?  That’s what makes awards like Wasafiri so special.  The reassurance that the passion I put into my work is being conveyed, hot and whole onto the page, and into readers’ hearts.  Because that is the purpose of writing, to reach into the core of another human being, and squeeze.’

Simon divides his time between providing help and feedback to aspiring writers, for The Consultant Practitioners,, and producing his own work.

‘I’ve got a few projects in development right now, though I’m particularly excited by The Fine Art of Drug Dealing, a film script I’m lucky enough to be working on with BAFTA Rocliffe award winning screen-writer, John Hickman.’ 

‘Fine Art is a tense crime thriller set in the east end of Newcastle, with a passionate, desperate love story at its heart.’

 The script is nearing completion, and if Simon’s record of success is anything to judge by, then we can look forward to seeing The Fine Art of Drug Dealing on our screens soon.

Simon’s story, The Bearer, can be read at, but please be warned, it is a distressing, strictly adult story.