Joan Nicolson Award 2023

Joan Nicolson was one of the original founders of the Southport Writers’ Circle. She created the circle after realising she could not live in a town without a writing group, and set up her own! Now, 50 years on, we are still going strong.

Each year we have an internal competition for members in relation to a theme. The prize is the coveted Joan Nicolson mini trophy to possess for a year and bragging rights.

Our guest judge this year is the lovely Hayley Doyle

“I grew up in Liverpool watching old movies with my Nan, putting on my own shows in her living room. Ballet and tap classes beckoned. As did singing in old folk’s homes. I was never without a book to read or a Magna-doodle to draw the stories I was creating in my head.

I became the first person in my family to go to university, graduating from the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) with a BA (hons) in Acting. London was the next big step (with an enjoyable side-step to Dartford where I played Tiger Lily alongside Brian Blessed’s Captain Hook in Peter Pan). Many auditions later, I made my West End debut at the Prince of Wales Theatre playing Ali in Mamma Mia!

It was during the 600+ performances of Mamma Mia! that I started to write my first novel. I’d written monologues before, and been part of the creative team on new plays at the Edinburgh Fringe, but I wanted to see if I could get from Chapter One to The End. I fell in love with writing pages upon pages of one story and I’d rush home from the theatre at night to write into the early hours. But I wanted to hone my craft. A few years later, I gained an MA in Creative Writing: The Novel from Brunel University, under the supervision of Fay Weldon. I won the Curtis Brown Award for my dissertation, which was the first 50,000 words of a novel.

Now, I’m a mum to a little boy and a baby girl, and the author of two published novels; Never Saw You Coming and Love, Almost. I’m always engrossed in creating one story, whilst keeping my mind open to the next possibility. There are beautiful stories everywhere. Sometimes, we just need help finding them.”

She has set the theme of: Time Travel

This challenge asks our writers to keep to 1000 words in any genre and to begin with some dialogue! Let’s see how the Circle tackle this…

Southport Writers' Circle