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Diss High School teacher wins regional award for unpublished debut novel

A Diss High School teacher has won a regional writing award for her unpublished debut novel.

Mikela Bond, who teaches English at the Walcot Road school, has been announced as the winner of the 2023 New Anglia Manuscript Prize, run by Laxfield Literary Associates in association with the National Centre for Writing.

The prize is for her work, The Hollow Hours, which set in Norfolk.

Mikela Bond.
Mikela Bond.

On finding out she had won, the 40-year-old said: “I am thrilled that The Hollow Hours has been chosen as the winner for such a fantastic prize.

“As an East Anglian writer, I’m lucky to be surrounded by an inspiring landscape and the Norfolk countryside is very much a part of this story.

“Writing a novel is an exciting process and winning this competition and being recognised as a writer is phenomenal.”

The prize, recognising the best new writing from Suffolk and Norfolk from an unpublished writer, was judged by Chris Gribble, chief executive of the National Centre for Writing, crime writer and publisher Phoebe Morgan, and the founder of Laxfield Literary Associates, Emma Shercliff.

Phoebe, who grew up in Suffolk, said: “Mikela Bond stood out to me as a clear winner of the prize.

“The Hollow Hours had me immediately gripped – the claustrophobic story of a missing girl in Norfolk, and the secrets that are contained in the house she vanished from.

“Mikela handles the family relationships exceptionally well, and I loved the twist at the end.

“Judging the prize has been a really rewarding experience, with lots of talent coming out of East Anglia.

“I’m very excited to watch where these new writers appear next.’

Mikela won £500 and representation from Laxfield Literary Associates.

Emma, who established Laxfield Literary Associates in Suffolk in October 2020 as part of a commitment to support writing in the region, said: “It has been a joy to judge this competition and to see the high quality of emerging writers in the region.

“Mikela is a worthy winner and I’m really excited about representing her and finding the perfect home for The Hollow Hours.

“I loved the complex family dynamics in this novel – so disquieting, but so believable.”

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