Students Staff

29 November 2011

Debut novel of Essex graduate to be published after winning literary prize

Photo courtesy of Schibsted Forlag/Berit Roald, Scanpix

An Essex creative writing graduate has secured her first book deal after winning a major literary competition in Norway with her debut novel.

Ida Løkås, 26, who completed a BA Creative Writing in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, will see her book The Beauty That Flows Past published next autumn and has won prize money worth around 27,000 Euros.

The open competition was organised by publishing company Schibsted Forlag, part of Schibsted – one of Scandanavia's biggest media groups, and the judges assessed all manuscripts without knowing anything about the writers.

Ida said: "Winning the prize was a life changing moment for me. I have always had a passion for writing, but I was never sure I had any talent. It is hard to get a book published, and that fact that I managed to do it on my first try is both unexpected and unbelievable. I was stunned when they called me, and had to ask the editor to tell me what the winning book was about before I could believe it was true."

Ida completed her studies at Essex in 2009 and then completed an MA Creative Writing and Publishing at Kingston University: "The creative writing course at Essex definitely helped develop my writing. It was an important stepping stone towards being a published writer. I had the privilege of being taught by talented and inspiring professors and I am grateful for all their encouragement and guidance during my three years at Essex."

The novel is about a young boy growing up in a council estate in London and Ida said her experiences living in the UK had informed her writing: "I come from a totally different background than my characters, and if I hadn't lived in Colchester, I would have not been able to write the story I did."

Now she hopes to establish a career as a professional writer: "My hopes for the future are to keep writing, keep learning, hopefully publish more books, and one day, perhaps, be able to live as a writer."

The competition judges were extremely impressed with Ida's entry and had presumed the person behind the winning manuscript was a man with huge experience as a writer.

Head of the company's fiction department Kjersti H. Johnsen said: "The book is a tour de force of brilliant narrative. The protagonist moves from boy to man, through tough choices between his comrades and his heart, between cynicism and love. Ida Løkås' literary craftsmanship is truly remarkable, knowing she's a debutant"

Leading author Ingvar Ambjørnsen, who was also on the judging panel, said: "A beautiful, different and mature novel. It's a great thrill to discover a new talent of this dimension."

Photo courtesy of Schibsted Forlag/Berit Roald, Scanpix

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