Stories about the impact of confinement on mental health and the small intimate moments of everyday life are among those shortlisted for the BBC Young Writers’ Award.
The five shortlisted authors, all aged between 14 and 18 at the time of submission, were praised by the judges for their “accomplished” and “confident” writing.
Each of the stories, all of which are fewer than 1,000 words long, will be read by actors including Dancing On The Edge star Katherine Press and Michael Shea, and will also be available to read on the BBC Radio 1 website.
Nineteen-year-old Tabitha Rubens, who was 18 at the time of submission, is nominated for a second time with the experimental Super-Powder, about how industry exploits the insecurities of young women to sell its product.
Luca Anderson-Muller, 18, from Belfast, wrote Fatigued during lockdown, exploring isolation, human greed and social justice via the fate of two goldfish in a bowl.
Pomodoro (& Nasturtium Seeds) by 16-year-old Madeleine Whitmore, from Bath, depicts romance blossoming over a home-cooked pasta dish, while Blood and Water by Eleanor Ware, 17 and from Bedfordshire, was inspired by the persecution of the Huguenots in 17th century France.
Another Boring Friday Night by 18-year-old Londoner Isabella Yeo Frank, meanwhile, follows three teenage girls as they spend a night drinking in a suburban garden and contemplating their futures and insecurities.
This year’s judging panel comprises Mercury Prize-winning singer-songwriter and poet Arlo Parks, actor and author Robert Webb, Guardian Children’s Fiction Award winner Alex Wheatle and Irish young adult author Louise O’Neill.
Katie Thistleton, chairwoman of the judging panel, said: “What an incredible judging panel we had this year and an amazing diverse list full of exceptional entries.
“After 18 months like no other, it’s been fascinating to get inside the minds of young people and read about the issues that matter to them.
“I’m so impressed by the quality of the writing and can’t wait to meet the writers behind the words.”
O’Neill said: “It has been an honour to be involved with the BBC Young Writers’ Award. I was blown away by the shortlisted stories, which take us from a dark night in seventeenth-century France to the cosy intimacy of a modern-day kitchen.
“The talent, artistry, and originality displayed by these young writers is incredibly exciting and I envision great things for their future. I cannot wait to see what they do next.”
The winner of the 2021 BBC Young Writers’ Award with Cambridge University will be announced live on Radio 4 ’s Front Row on October 19.
The shortlisted stories can be read and listened to online at: www.bbc.co.uk/ywa