Seran Dolma from Penrhyndeudraeth is the winner of a competition organised by the Friends of the Books Council of Wales to find new ideas for Welsh-language novels for young adults.
The news was announced on the Aled Hughes programme on BBC Radio Cymru on Tuesday, 29 September 2020.
Seran, who has two children aged 8 and 3, receives a cash prize of £1,000 from the Friends, as well as the opportunity for advice on turning her idea into a published novel.
The response to the competition was excellent, with 21 submissions received by the judging panel which included composer and former librarian Robat Arwyn, author Meinir Pierce Jones, and Gwawr Maelor, a lecturer in Education at Bangor University.
According to the judges, this was a “strong competition”. As well as the winning entry, three other authors were placed in the top category, their submissions described by the panel as ideas that “deserved to be published”. The three runners-up were Eurgain Haf, Cynan Llwyd and Llio Maddocks.
Entrants were asked to submit the opening chapters of a Welsh-language novel for young adults, along with a synopsis of the rest of the book.
Entitled ‘Y Nendyrau’ (‘The Turrets’), Seran Dolma’s idea is set in the future. As a result of climate change, sea levels have risen dramatically with thousands of people left homeless.
Fifteen-year-old Daniel is one of the lucky ones, living with his father and others in a tower where the two lower floors, like the rest of the city, are underwater. But one day, he sees a dark-haired young girl wave at him from the tower opposite – a tower which had appeared to be totally empty.
The Chair of the judging panel, Robat Arwyn, said: “This post-apocalyptic novel captured my attention from the very first sentence, as Daniel and Rani face several challenges in their efforts to protect their families and stay safe. The narrative flows easily in a clear and highly readable style, and the characters and their heart-wrenching situation remain with me.”
Speaking about the Friends’ competition, Seran Dolma said: “I am so grateful to the Friends of the Books Council of Wales for this opportunity, and to the judges for selecting ‘Y Nendyrau’ as the winning entrant. It’s a huge boost to my confidence as a writer, and gives me hope that there is a market for the novel and that publication will be possible at the end of the day.”
In February 2019, Seran Dolma attended a Writing and Illustrating for Children course as an illustrator at the Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre, a course jointly organised by the Books Council of Wales and Literature Wales.
Earlier this year, she was accepted on Literature Wales’ 2020 Mentoring Scheme for early career writers.
“I would like to take this opportunity to also thank Literature Wales and my mentor Lleucu Roberts for their support. I am continuing to work on the novel and hope to have a final draft of the written text ready by Christmas. There is a visual element too, which may take a little longer, but I hope all the work will be completed early in 2021,” added Seran.
The Chair of the Friends of the Books Council of Wales, Ion Thomas, said: “In sponsoring this competition, our aim was to increase the choice of Welsh-language novels for young people, and we are therefore delighted with the number of entrants and the range of ideas submitted. Our hope is that it will be a boost not only for the winner but also for several of the other writers to further develop and complete their work, thereby expanding the provision and attracting new readers.”
The Head of Children’s Books and Reading Promotion at the Books Council of Wales, Helen Jones, said: “We would like to thank all the entrants and the judges for their wonderful work, and extend our warmest congratulations to Seran Dolma. We would also like to thank the Friends of the Books Council for sponsoring this important competition, which will help to ensure that high quality novels that capture the imagination are available in Welsh to our young people.”