26 October 2021
72 authors receive grants to buy time to write and complete research, including the inaugural World of Books Impact Award
With Cop26 approaching, supply chains at breaking point and the motives of powerful corporations called increasingly into question, the timing of the inaugural World of Books Impact Award feels poignant. The Autumn 2021 recipient is Michelle Meagher, in support of her work in progress on ‘corporations and corporate power, and the impact they have on the food we eat.’
Sponsored by World of Books Group, the Impact Award supports writers working on books of any genre that have the power to inspire progressive behaviour change. The Award’s criteria are aligned with the UN sustainability goals of Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action and Quality Education.
Michelle Meagher is a competition lawyer and co-founder of the Balanced Economy Project, an international anti-monopoly alliance. Her previous book, Competition is Killing Us: How Big Business is Harming Our Society and Planet - and What to Do About It, was published by Penguin in 2020.
The Impact Award has been presented alongside 71 Authors’ Foundation and K Blundell Trust Awards to writers to support their ongoing writing projects. Worth almost £190,000 in total in this round, the grants are awarded twice a year, designed to buy writers time to write or help with research costs.
The work championed this Autumn will explore everything from emotional abuse and trauma in a Welsh-speaking mining village in Cardiff and recovery from addiction to the instrumental power of wool, silk and cotton in changing the fortune of Asia, and the history of flight. This year’s recipients include poet and writer Gwyneth Lewis, poet John Challis, writer Aidan Martin, novelist Sarah Bower, barrister Marie-Claire Amuah, and novelist Shahnaz Ahsan.
'After becoming a mother for the first time last year, my writing has taken a backseat… This award will grant me more time to focus'
'I am honoured to be awarded a grant from the SoA; it provides welcome practical support, but also a much needed vote of confidence to pursue my writing career. After becoming a mother for the first time last year, my writing has taken a backseat while I navigate childcare and work. This award will grant me more time to focus on my current novel, which is an intergenerational tale of three Bangladeshi women living in London, and their sometimes conflicting aspirations for both themselves and their children.'
Shahnaz Ahsan is the author of Hashim & Family (John Murray Press). It was named an Observer Best Book of 2020 and was shortlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize, and long-listed for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award. She is also an award-winning writer of short stories and her articles have appeared in the Observer Food Monthly, the Daily Telegraph, and various online journals and magazines.
Marie-Claire Amuah – John C Laurence Award Winner
'It is hugely encouraging to know that a benevolent fund exists to support authors in this way.'
'It is a great privilege to be awarded the John C Laurence grant from the Society of Authors. Their support enables me to dedicate valuable time to writing and it is hugely encouraging to know that a benevolent fund exists to support authors in this way.
'My debut novel, Diary of a Magpie, is the story of a young British-Ghanaian girl growing up in south London in a house riven by domestic abuse. Stella relies on superstitious rituals to keep her safe, but as she grows up and navigates her way through relationships, career and friendship, she realises that the only way to break free from her past is to confront it. It’s a story of individual strength and resilience, as well as a tribute to the joy and power of friendship.'
Marie-Claire Amuah is a British-Ghanaian barrister. She is born, raised and based in South London. Diary of a Magpie is to be published by Oneworld Publications in Autumn 2022.
'Thanks to the generosity of the Authors’ Foundation and the K Blundell Trust I can take off in a balloon and get up close and personal with Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit.'
'The novel I’m currently working on is about flight and needlework, and brings together the invention of hot air balloons by the Montgolfier brothers in the 1780s and the Apollo space missions of the 1960s. My research was quite literally grounded by Covid so this grant comes at the perfect time, as travel restrictions lift and I can resume my research in France and the USA. Thanks to the generosity of the Authors’ Foundation and the K Blundell Trust I can take off in a balloon and get up close and personal with Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit.'
Sarah Bower is the author of three novels and many short stories, and her work has been translated into ten languages. Her first novel, The Needle in the Blood, won the Susan Hill Award 2007, and her second, The Book of Love, was a Toronto Globe and Mail bestseller. Her short fiction and non-fiction has been published in MsLexia, QWF, Spiked, The Yellow Room and Unthology, among others. She is a lecturer in creative writing at the Open University where she is also currently studying for a PhD.
'Receiving an Authors’ Foundation grant couldn’t have come at a better time… I’m incredibly grateful.'
'Receiving an Authors’ Foundation grant couldn’t have come at a better time. It will allow me to ring-fence a precious day per week alongside work and childcare commitments to research and write my second collection of poetry: an interrogation of belonging, ownership, escape and rootedness. In sequences of poems exploring the M25, the 18th century escapologist, Jack Sheppard, and my home in the North East, the collection will investigate the influence of class and capital on belonging. I’m incredibly grateful to the SoA and the Authors’ Foundation and K Blundell Trust for their support.'
John Challis is a poet, researcher and teacher living in the North East. His debut collection of poems The Resurrectionists was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2021. A pamphlet, The Black Cab (Poetry Salzburg), appeared in 2017 and was a New Writing North Read Regional title. He has received a Pushcart Prize, a Northern Writers’ Award and was highly commended in the 2021 Forward Prizes for Poetry. His work has appeared on BBC Radio 4, in The Guardian, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry London and elsewhere.
'This award is a lifeline and I'm extremely grateful to Arthur Welton and the Authors' Foundation'
'My third memoir is an account of being raised in a minority Welsh-speaking community in Cardiff by an emotionally abusive mother and a father who did nothing to protect me. My mother exerted coercive control over me during my upbringing, despite – or maybe because – I wrote poetry from age seven. The lifelong consequences for my wellbeing have been devastating.
'This award will give me the confidence and financial means to complete this life task, which I'm doing as I emerge from a period of being crippled by chronic migraine, as well as the challenges of being freelance during a pandemic. This award is a lifeline and I'm extremely grateful to Arthur Welton and the Authors' Foundation. A drowning author is not a pretty sight.'
Gwyneth Lewis is primarily a poet and non-fiction writer, was National Poet of Wales 2005-06 and wrote the words on the front of the Wales Millennium Centre. She’s published nine collections of poetry and two memoirs, the first about depression.
'This funding will allow me the time and freedom to execute my ideas, …to produce an artistic piece of work that has never been more culturally relevant.'
'I am humbled to receive this award on behalf of Authors’ Foundation and K Blundell Trust. My current project, Where the f*** is Phil?, whilst sounding like pulp fiction, addresses contemporary subject matters pertaining to men’s mental health.
'I follow in the footsteps of Irvine Welsh and Graeme Armstrong by using creative fiction to unpack serious subject matters, which impacted me and every other lad I grew up with. This funding will allow me the time and freedom to execute my ideas, enabling me to produce an artistic piece of work that has never been more culturally relevant.'
Aidan Martin’s debut book, a memoir - Euphoric Recall - discusses in detail his recovery from addiction and many traumas including sexual abuse.
Aidan is a fiancé to his beautiful partner and a proud father of two gorgeous children. He previously worked in mental health and addictions, gained an honours degree in social sciences: with criminology and sociology in 2017, and obtained an MSc in Social Work in 2021. As a grateful recovering addict, Aidan is heavily involved in the recovery scene.
He is currently working on his second book—a Scottish working-class fiction around lad culture within the trance scene of the early noughties—called Where the f*** is Phil?
Michelle Meagher – World of Books Impact Award
Michelle Meagher is the inaugural winner of this prize.
'This award will allow me to take the time to submit my book proposal about corporations and corporate power, and the impact they have on the food we eat.'
Michelle Meagher is a competition lawyer and co-founder of the Balanced Economy Project, an international anti-monopoly alliance. She is author of Competition is Killing Us: How Big Business is Harming Our Society and Planet - and What to Do About It (Penguin, 2020), a Financial Times Best Book of the Year. She is a Senior Policy Fellow at the University College London Centre for Law, Economics and Society.