The Independent Story of the Year: Close behind: the runners-up

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Indy Lifestyle Online
THE TWO runners-up are Sean Taylor and Sara Conkey. They win pounds 500 each.

Sean Taylor, 29, lives in London and works part-time as a writer-in-residence for Eastside in the East End, where he encourages children to write. He also teaches literacy to adults, and writes poetry. He got the idea for his story, 'A Mouthful of Gold', from 'a tiny news piece. A goat had been found in Iran with a coating of gold on its teeth. I kept it, thinking it might form the basis of something later. I imagined what would happen if two farmers found they owned such a goat.' The prize money will pay for a ticket to Brazil. 'I'm marrying a Brazilian in December.'

Sara Conkey, 30, lives in Birmingham but works as a radio producer for the BBC in Bristol. Although she has no children of her own, she has strong views on children's fiction: 'I don't think it's taken seriously enough. I read a lot as a child, and was completely absorbed.' She wrote her story, 'The Tale of the Bad Ship Torment', for the competition. It was intended as timeless, like a classic fairy-tale. Pirate Razelbreath captures the princess Marie Rose and holds her prisoner on his ship until she will agree to marry him. He tries to melt her resolve by sending her wonderful food prepared by the ship's cook. And it works, except that she falls in love with the cook. .

The other writers selected for Story of the Year 2, to be published in October, are: Maggie Butt for 'The Black Hole'; Charles Lowndes for 'The Knight Who Lost His Marbles'; Graham Laurence for 'The Tug of War'; Norma Clarke for 'Making Friends'; Finbar O'Connor for 'The Princess in the Tower Block'; Alan B Stone for 'The Howling Hills' and Ann Burnett for 'We All Belong to Glasgow'.

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