Winners revealed in Oxfordshire Libraries’ short story competition

A love story triggered by a provocative car sticker and a tale of magic and suspense involving a necklace with spiritual powers have been chosen as the winners of Oxfordshire Library Service’s Short Story Competition 2019.

Burford School sixth-form pupil Becky Davies won the Young Adult Category with her intriguingly-titled entry, Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bacon Lover.

And Jane Cammack, from Witney, captured the Adult prize with her story about The Talisman.

Both stories will now be available for any library user to read for free on the Overdrive eBook service – the county’s digital library which sits alongside its network of 43 libraries.

Becky, 16, and Jane also receive physical prizes in the form of tablet devices kindly donated by Overdrive.

The competition, now in its fifth year, is all part of the county council’s commitment to thriving communities – helping people live safe, healthy lives and play an active part in their community.

Lead Librarian for Digital, Information and Learning, Katharine Spackman, said: “The judging panel enjoyed reading and debating the entries from many talented writers and there was particularly stiff competition this year. The winners should be doubly proud of their achievements.”

Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bacon Lover

The Young Adult category is open to entrants aged between 11 and 17 (Year 7 upwards). Becky won with a story inspired by a car covered in stickers.

Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bacon Lover is a tale of two university students who keep on exchanging notes before eventually falling in love.

Becky explains: “I saw this car in Witney with lots of stickers on it and it just inspired me to write. In my story there’s a sticker on the car which says ‘You can’t buy happiness but you can buy a bacon sandwich’. Ellie is a vegetarian who obviously disagrees with the message so she leaves a note for James.

“They keep on leaving notes for each other throughout the story and eventually fall in love through these notes.”

Becky, 16, only started the story a couple of months ago and entered the competition on a whim.

“I do a lot of writing in my spare time and it feels amazing to win – I certainly wasn’t expecting it,” she said. “It has always been my dream to be an author and this is the first step, so I’m really happy.”

The Talisman

Adult category winner Jane believes her career as an opera singer inspired her entry, The Talisman. Jane trained at the Royal College of Music before going on to sing at the English National Opera, Glyndebourne and La Scala.

The Talisman definitely comes from my days in the opera, with its references to legends and fairy-tales,” she said.

The summer holidays are long and Rose’s son, Robin, is bored. But when Rose suggests a picnic at the river, her young daughter Bella seems afraid.

She has heard the children at school speaking about Creeping Jenny and the Reed Women, who drag children down to the riverbed.

Only the Talisman necklace Uncle Theodore made, with its spiritual and cosmic power, will keep her safe. But when they reach Frogs Hollow, Rose’s attention drifts from the children to her book and whisperings start amongst the reeds.

Jane was delighted to learn her story had been chosen as the winning entry.

“It came completely out of the blue,” she said. “To be honest I sent it off and then completely forgot about it. It’s fantastic because it’s judged by librarians – they’re involved with books all the time and are the real experts.”

Download the winning stories

To see what made Becky and Jane this year’s outstanding authors and ensure them pride of place alongside national bestsellers visit the Oxfordshire Library eBook webpage or the Overdrive and Libby apps today. Go to www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/ebooks and select 'Overdrive'.