Donegal-based Belfast author launches lockdown writing competition

Belfast author Sean Hillen with participants of one of the Ireland Writing Retreat's courses
Belfast author Sean Hillen with participants of one of the Ireland Writing Retreat's courses

A BELFAST author, publisher and founder of an international writers retreat has launched a writing competition for people stuck in lockdown, with almost €3,000 worth of prizes.

Sean Hillen, who was born in Ballymurphy and lived many years in Andersonstown, launched the Ireland Writing Retreat, which has a centre in Co Donegal, five years ago and has established the Wild Atlantic Writing Awards as a creative outlet during the coronavirus lockdown.

Sean, author of Pretty Ugly, a novel linking Ireland and the US, has been a guest speaker at many book festivals in Ireland and abroad and recently hosted a literary panel event at the Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Derry.

“We thought such an awards competition would provide an interesting challenge for people who like reading and writing and have no choice but to stay at home for the next few weeks,” said Sean, whose writing retreats have attracted participants, tutors and authors from across the world.

“After all, there are many people who might have considered writing, but haven’t – now is the perfect time to start.”

The competition, the closing date for which is May 31, has two categories: flash fiction – "open to all genres from sci-fi, crime, romance, horror, humor, thriller, mystery to whatever tickles you", as Sean put it – and creative non-fiction.

“The winning entry will receive €500 in cash, plus €990 in the form of free participation to one of our retreats, including all daily excursions, by land and sea, food and drinks tastings, concerts and dance performances, and all writing workshops and author talks.”

:: For more information and competition details, see irelandwritingretreat.com/writing-competition or call 00 353 833 55 6778.