Interview with Brennig Davies, winner of the BBC Young Writers’ Award 2015

"Before winning, the thought of one day becoming a published author felt like a bit of a ‘pipe dream’ maybe; since winning, it feels like anything is possible!"

Interview with Brennig Davies, winner of the BBC Young Writers’ Award 2015

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

Hello! I’m Brennig. I’m a 19-year-old student from South Wales, and I was the first winner of the BBC Young Writers’ Award in 2015. 

What first drew you to literature? 

My parents used to read to my twin sister and I a lot when we were younger, so I think being exposed to literature from a young age meant that I learnt to love it quite early on- I’ve never stopped reading (but thankfully I can do it by myself by now!) 

You previously won the BBC Young Writers' Award. Tell us about the competition. 

The BBC Young Writers’ Award is a kind of ‘youth’ version of the BBC National Short Story Award, specifically for young writers aged 14-18. It’s now in its fifth year, and the aim is to celebrate the best new short fiction being written by teenagers all over the UK- all you have to do for a chance to win is to write a short story (up to 1,000 words) on any topic, and then submit it!

What was your story about?

My story was called ‘Skinning,’ and it was about a young boy forced, by his father, to skin a rabbit (something I’m still yet to do myself!) It ended up being quite a dark story about growing up and what it means to ‘become a man,’ as well as looking at the wildness within us all. 

And how do you think winning has helped you? 

Winning the award has given me such a confidence boost as far as writing’s concerned. It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed, but to be recognised for it publicly (and by people I really admire) has meant the world to me. Before winning, the thought of one day becoming a published author felt like a bit of a ‘pipe dream’ maybe; since winning, it feels like anything is possible! 

f43fe845754a7a99e994e204eeb42868b0952134.jpgWhat do you think is the best thing about the competition? 

There were so many amazing things about winning the competition, including having a ‘mentoring’ session with (the incredible) Matt Haig, but I’d have to say the highlight was hearing Sir Ian McKellen reading my story aloud on BBC Radio One. It was such a surreal experience, but one I’ll never forget. 

What are your plans for the future?

I’m currently going into my second year studying English Language and Literature at Oxford, so I imagine I’ll have to knuckle down for the next two years to get my degree, but I’d love to be a published author one day. 

Are there any changes in the world of literature that have you excited?

I like that audiobooks are becoming so popular these days, and that the BBC have decided to release the short stories shortlisted for both the National Short Story Award and the Young Writers’ Award as podcasts that you can download and listen to – it feels like we’re returning to a really ancient form of oral storytelling, which I find so cool (plus it reminds me of being read to as a child, which is very nostalgic!) 

Similarly, are there any areas that the industry still needs to improve on?

Sometimes certain genres can be treated quite snobbishly, and looked down on for not being ‘high art,’ but I’ve always thought that good writing is good writing, and good art is good art, whether it’s ‘high-’ or ‘low-brow.’ You can enjoy Jack Reacher and Jack Kerouac, without having to choose between the two! 

And who are some authors you think people should check out?

There are so many exciting authors working today whom I love (such as Sally Rooney and George Saunders) but right now I’d really recommend reading/listening to the shortlists for this year’s short story awards- I’ve made my way through all the stories over the past week, and have been so struck by the originality, creativity and empathy shown by all the writers, and I really don’t envy the judges having to pick the winners! 

Where can people find out more about your work?

I haven’t managed to set up a website yet, but if you search my name on Google you can still read ‘Skinning’ and some other work I’ve had published. Hopefully there’ll be more coming soon!


The winner of the BBC Young Writers’ Award 2019 with First Story and Cambridge University will be announced on Tuesday 1st October on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row. All of the shortlisted stories are available to listen to at www.bbc.co.uk/ywa

Header Image Credit: Brennig age 14 (provided)

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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