Write Stuff Competition 2021
When I was contacted by Catriona and Claire of the Guernsey Literary Festival and asked to be the illustrator for this years Write Stuff competition I jumped at the opportunity. When I discovered that the theme is Myths and Legends i thought “brilliant!”
You see when I was in my teens I drew mostly dungeons and dragons, wizards and witches and all things fantasy. I was completely obsessed. So this was my chance to relive my childhood passions with all the experience I have now as an artist.
I was super excited but also super nervous. I calculated I needed to do 1 illustration every 2 days and my window of opportunity to work on them was after I put my son Heron to bed from 8-10ish at night. So it was going to be a mission.
When all the winning stories started flowing in all those nerves fizzled out. The stories were so well written with so much imagination it made me conjure up all sorts of weird and wonderful things to create. At that point I was raring to start.
I chose the medium depending on the tone story. Deep charcoals or black ink for the darker, eerie ones to watercolour for the more lighter numbers.
Plus all the subjects were great. As an adult its not often you can paint unicorns and rainbows without an eyebrow raised! But here I was painting mythical creatures, Hades drawing straws with Zeus and Poseidon. Dancing milk maids to a half hand, half robot getting his birthday ruined by an eight armed man with jet boots! Which was really brilliant!
So I’m so happy for the Guernsey Literary Festival and Write Stuff competition crew for giving me this amazing opportunity and especially thanks to all the entrants to the competition writing these awesome stories. I’ve had a really enjoyable time.
Illustration by me, Write Stuff Competition logo designed by Betley Whitehorne Image
Hear the stories beautifully narrated with my illustrations here...
Search for the Unicorn
My little sister still believes in unicorns, and leprechauns, and a land of eternal sunshine. God she’s naïve. “Big brother,” she says, looking up at me, “Can we go the park, please, to look for a unicorn?” Now I don’t believe in unicorns, not one bit. I may still be in school, but I know not to believe in unicorns. Somebody ought to teach my sister about the real world. Anyway, I don’t know why, but I said OK. Maybe I just can’t say no to her, she’s like my one weakness. Imagine a fairy, wearing some sparkly dress, flitting and fluttering against the wind. That’s exactly my sister, light as a feather, barrelling down the road and kicking up dirt in my eyes the whole way. Well, it’s turning autumn now, and I’ll admit, the trees look kind of pretty this time of year. In the spring, they’re fresh and a new shade of green, then they bloom and fan out in the sun. Finally they turn gold and fall from the skies, landing all around us. But after that, there’s just the cold. So you see, I am a little torn up, knowing my sister’s going to be disappointed and all. But now she’s off ahead, nearing the brow of the hill by the park. I’ve been here many times - as a kid I would come and play on the swings but for some reason I guess I stopped. Somehow my sister’s still convinced we’re going to find a unicorn. And you know, when she takes my hand and pulls me over the top of the hill and we see the long grass stretching out where my playground used to be, when we pretend to look for a unicorn in the bushes, I swear it kills me.
- Joanne Harris - SENIOR WINNER 2021, FIRST PRIZE
The Titanic Struggle
I am Atlas, son of Iapetus. For an eternity I’ve strived to prop this earth’s heavens on my shoulders. Yet it is only now, in this modern world, that I can relieve myself of some of this mighty burden. I started my sentence as sharp as a whip and as strong as an ox, fresh from the traumas of the war. I spent my first eras scheming. Scheming of ways to gain vengeance over Zeus and the other Olympians. Though eventually and inevitably, it dawned that if I weren’t here, holding up the roof to Man’s playground, who would? I’d hungered for control and power for myself yet was gifted such a beautiful responsibility that, for the while, made me whole. In recent times, all is not well. As I’ve aged, I’ve grown anxious of dropping ‘the ball’. I fear my bones are growing too brittle and my joints too stiff. A dark void is sucking away my capability; was I not better suited for this as a young Titan? I recall the days when the likes of Odysseus and Leonidas courageously led their men to run rampant across the scrub. From where I watched, high above the clouds, I could see them hurting and grieving under the weight of their responsibility, and I understood how they felt. No matter how many battles were won and treacherous foes defeated, children would be orphaned and wives widowed. It all seemed hopeless… For ever, lone wanderers have been my only acquaintances. They could never understand the titanic struggle I was battling – lashing me with cruel jibes to “man up”. Their derision was constant… at least until now. Now my visitors want to share my burden. They want to talk. They understand me.
- Josh Le Sauvage, SENIOR 2021, SECOND PRIZE
The Manipulating Motivators
Two opposing views. Two opposing visions. Two opposing goals formed by their stories of old. Yet on this ancient field, two sides face each other with shared ancestry within their warm blood, fuelling their bodies with anger derived from derangement. Yet blood shall be needlessly spilled, all staining and poisoning the grass, for neither side’s blood is more pure. Saints on flags guiding their men to an untimely death. George, Andrew, David, Patrick tranquilly fluttering in the wind, ordering their men to strike. The defeated dragons and retreating reptiles ,spread from mouth to ear, do not exist on the other side. Only fellow men, similarly motivated by the result of one long tragic game of Chinese Whispers. None hold swords yanked from stone, but rather metal killing machines, manufactured from the blood, sweat and tears of labour. Whether struck down or victorious, they will fall victim to these holy men they worship. A complex of superiority, a delusion of purity, told by dragons, swords and magic. The whispers of survivors, ever more intense due to the realism of warfare and mortality, continue through generations. Myths manipulated into wars; wars manipulated into tales of heroism; heroism manipulated into a common and superior goal in the name of nationalism, determined by what border you are born behind, as behind that border is enemy lines. Livelihoods destroyed, cultures broken, religions killed off due to a chasm taking the form of a nation’s perimeter, within a land we had shared. Yet, while many had given themselves to a cause they had been taught, at their end, their blood was the same as their murderer’s. For, in reality, the myths and legends of the stories of old leads not to Camelot, but the downfall of the very men they had inspired.
- Henry Lister, SENIOR 2021, THIRD PRIZE
I ruined Zeus’ Tablecloth
As I was called to Zeus' palace, I wondered what I'd done wrong now. I'd done an awful lot that Zeus wasn't happy with lately- but so what? Just because our dad didn't eat him doesn't make him god of the world. However, he had been acting strangely lately. He didn't blink when I spilt ambrosia over his pristine (white) tablecloth. Last time I did that, I had to hang in Tartarus with my uncles for ages. I knew this plan involved Poseidon too, it always does. And once again, Hades, coolest god in the universe, gets left out. I've got Cerberus though, the best dog for the best god. When he grows bigger he'll be the best guard dog around. When I materialised into Zeus' palace, my heart sunk. My brothers looked awfully chummy towards each other, and when they turned to face me they had huge grins plastered across their faces. "Hades, how good to see you!" They chorused. "Brothers." I ground out, trying (and failing) to keep my tone jovial. "I- I mean we, have decided to divide our territory" Thank gods. For the last millennia, all Zeus' speeches have contained is "harmony, harmony, harmony." Bleurgh. "Let's draw straws, it's the fairest way." -I didn't think anything about Zeus was fair, but I wanted this as much as him. He drew out three straws with colours on them. I frowned. I knew where this was going. Poseidon drew the blue straw. "Woah, sea. I totally wasn't expecting that" he said, as if reading from a script. Zeus went next and pulled out the white one- sky, obviously. He didn't look at all surprised. So when I drew the only one left, the black one, and read what was written inside, all I could say was... "knew it"
- Emma Holt INTERMEDIATE WINNER 2021, FIRST PRIZE
The One who Weaves Forever
I have been weaving since I was a child. It comforted me in times of sorrow. Death followed me everywhere, my parents died when I was born. I only remember them from what people have told me about them. I was raised by my grandparents in a small run-down cottage outside the village. No one wanted to be my friend growing up, I was the peculiar girl who had no parents. Until I learnt to weave. My Grandmother noticed my interest in weaving and taught me how. A short while later it was clear that I had a natural talent. I quickly outshone her. She didn't mind though, she was pleased I finally had something that would hopefully make my childhood nicer. Weaving became my life. I could make anything you wanted, but my favourite things to spin were tapestries. I would hand them out as gifts. I did not want to make money off of them, I simply wanted to share my gifts with the world. Swiftly, my talents became world-renowned so people spread the rumour that Athena herself had taught me. Now that made me angry. Calling out Athena I told her that if she was so good at weaving then why didn’t she come down here and beat me in a weaving contest. Inevitably, Athena came. Setting up our looms, we wove day and night. The result was amazing, Athena wove a beautiful scene of the gods at their mightiest sitting on their thrones at Mount Olympus. However, I wanted to spite the gods. I depicted the gods at their worst. Athena was furious. Insulted and outraged, she cursed me. My hair fell out. My whole body shrank and shrivelled until I was an insignificant, hideous spider. “You want to weave,” cried Athena, “go ahead and weave!"
- Jake Taylor, INTERMEDIATE 2021, SECOND PRIZE
Pierre Dumont’s Tale
Another?” The bartender waved a glass at me and I was tempted. It had been a great market day and I’d had a few drinks with my friends but Ruth was waiting at home and a nasty storm was brewing. I shook my head and stood up to leave. Outside the weather was worse than I’d thought, I pulled my coat tighter around me and started to walk, the pub's jovial sounds fading from earshot as I walked. By the time I reached Corbiere my clothes were sodden, my boots heavy with mud and wet, my cheeks and hands burning from the lashing wind and rain. I wished I’d stayed in the pub. That’s when I heard it, a high, almost shrill, voice calling “Help!” through the wind’s roar. Thinking I’d imagined it I kept walking but I heard it again, louder now “Help! Help me!” It was a child! I had no choice but to follow it toward the cliff edge. I couldnt see and struggled to hear and in the dark and rain and wind I was afraid I might go over the edge. “Can you get to me?” I shouted and moments later I felt the child place its cold, thin hand into mine. In the darkness I could see only it’s outline, how was so small a child out here in this storm? The wind howled and I shouted to be heard, “Come with me, I’ll keep you safe.” Talking was impossible and I was glad to reach my gate. Ruth ran to open the door but then screamed and drew back pointing at my companion. I looked down. What I had thought was a child was an old, wizened creature, a pouque: “I am Le p’tit Colin, you promised to keep me safe” he said...
- Josiah Tooley, INTERMEDIATE 2021, THIRD PRIZE
In ancient times when people were waving swords about, there was a beautiful Milk Maid. Wherever she went flowers bloomed, the sun shone, and birds sang. Her passion was milking, and the milk from her cows was the best for miles around. Everyone tried to buy her beautiful milk, and it got sold out very quickly. She worked very hard every day, but was happy. One day she thought to herself - "Should I tell someone else my secret, of why the milk is so tasty?" She didn't know who to tell, but the secret was too big to keep. Finally she whispered it aloud whilst making dinner. Her son, who was there listened open mouthed to her secret. He couldn't help but tell his best friend, and soon everyone in the village knew as well. When the milk maid walked through the village the next day, everyone started laughing at her. At first she didn't know why, but then she realised that her secret must be out. She was so embarrassed that she ran away, never to be seen again. Some of the villagers say that she turned into a cow herself. Do you want to know what her secret was? It was that every night she would do Irish dancing with her cows. It made the cows happy and their milk extra creamy. Maybe you should try it one day. Just don't tell anybody else her secret!
- Sophie Harrison - PRIMARY WINNER 2021, FIRST PRIZE
Hello, I’m Harriet Ogier, a washerwoman from Castel. We kindly washerwomen like to gossip a little but recently some ‘dirty laundry’ has reached some ears it shouldn’t , so as you can imagine we got into a bit of trouble. Soon enough we discovered it was sly, malicious Madame Mahy sharing the gossip but the funny thing was we never did her laundry. When I got home one day I sat down and thought, until I remembered. The cat! You see every time we washerwomen sat down to the washing there was always a silky, midnight black cat, so I decided there was something supernatural occuring- I had a plan... Next morning I set off bright and early to Madame Le’Tissier’s cosy, granite cottage in Torteval. Upon arrival, I immediately put the bulky iron on the stove to heat up, while I began the washing. Shortly, after I heard a loud screech and saw the cat emerge from the window. I waited until it was comfortably perched on a shelf nearby and then went to check on the iron. Boiling. Perfect! I picked it up, slowly crept up behind the cat and quick as a flash slammed it against the cat’s nose. Hissss! It leapt off the shelf and darted away. “Goodness gracious!” my friends squealed. I was silent. The next day, I sauntered to Mrs Le’Page’s house just down the dusty track, then continued to Madame De‘Carterat’s cottage. The cat was nowhere to be seen at either. News spread that Madame Mahy had experienced an awful accident; she supposedly fell asleep in her chair and tilted forward scorching her nose on the stove but I knew she was a witch who shapeshifted into a cat and shared all our tittle-tattle. After that all our secrets remained secrets forever.
- Amy Tersigni - PRIMARY 2021, SECOND PRIZE
Today is a day I will never forget. Darkness fell over my world and has changed it forever. I’ll take you back to when the nightmare began. It started out as an ordinary afternoon in Herm. I was with the sailors drinking in the Tavern, admiring the shore of golden sand and sun beaming onto the large rocks, making it glisten like a jewel in the local shop. Out of the corner of my eye, a woman appears on the surface of the water so innocent and pure. She had long silky hair, swaying in the wind as if she was a goddess. Speechlessly, we stood like statues with our jaws helplessly lying on the floor. A few of the men ambled closer as if they were in a trance. All of a sudden, the weather flipped like a coin. The sky released a bolt of electricity striking a rock, slicing it like dough. The lady levitated out of the murky green water to unveil a scaly tail. She was a mermaid! The clouds swirled and twirled, dancing around her like dark waves. Her lips opened revealing white fangs, then a curse roared out of her mouth, “Oh men of Herm, follow me to the land of all your dreams and leave this world behind”. The men were now plodding through the water lifeless towards this evil witch. Something deep down inside me wMhispered that everything will be okay as long as I avoided the song. Therefore, I hid under a table and covered my ears. I started to feel dizzy and overwhelmed. My head was spinning like a wheel on a bike. I checked to see where the rest of the men were. They were gone. I am the last one to tell the story…
- Phoebe Collas - PRIMARY 2021, THIRD PRIZE
Legend of Spike and Tom
Once upon a time there was a destructive person called Spike. He was so evil he went to prison 38 times because he ruined all the children birthdays. He was a big fan of chocolate cake. Spike had eight, enormous, spiky arms and jet powered boots that shot fire at his enemies when he fought them. Tom was a tall superhero. He had four legs and half of his body was a hand, which wasn’t normal. He was a mutant. Tom also had a robot planted inside of him. That was his sidekick. His sidekick helped Tom fight and told him what moves to do. Spike and Tom had been battling for years and years, they were worst enemies. One day, Tom was celebrating his birthday. Spike appeared as if by magic and stole the green and white birthday cake from Tom. He clicked his fingers and teleported away. Tom was furious and he wanted payback so he went to Spike’s lair to fight him. This fight was different. It was brutal. The two of them fought furiously. Spike stabbed Tom’s leg so he couldn’t walk. Tom tried to stand up and fight him but Spike kept dodging his shots. Tom was almost ready to pass out but his sidekick told him to persevere so he fought for hours and hours, never stopping. Spike was beginning to feel sick and tired and he began to make lots of mistakes. All of a sudden, Tom jumped at him and finished him off with a punch to the face. Spike fell to the ground with a thud. Tom had won. Tom went home and celebrated the victory over Spike. Little did he know, Spike was still alive…
- Colton-Lee Lewis SEND PRIMARY WINNER 2021, FIRST PRIZE
There was once a charming king called Claudius and the queen called Alexia Ray. They lived in a huge castle outside Dering Woods in Pluckley. One day Claudius went into Dering Woods, He stumbled upon this really spooky looking shack. He looked through the window but saw no one, there were no lights but there was smoke coming out of the chimney. Claudius decided to walk to Pluckley to talk to some locals in the village about the spooky shack. They told Claudius if you go in the woods at night you can hear screams, that’s why Dering Woods is nicknamed the Screaming Woods.The locals told Claudius that there is an evil witch called Ursula living there. If you call her name five times she will appear and curse you, bad luck will follow. That evening Claudius went into The Screaming woods, he was petrified. The woods were really quiet and eerie. He had his lantern but struggled to see anything. He was sure someone or something was following him. Suddenly the shack appeared and he started saying Ursula five times. Seconds later the woods got a whole lot scarier. He heard screaming coming from every direction. He thought he saw a ghostly figure staring right at him from the trees, he heard footsteps coming from the trees in front of him, he heard rustling from the bushes. His lantern suddenly turned off and the screams got closer. Claudius felt breathing behind him, he turned round and there was the witch. Ursula had big spots on her nose and really brown teeth. Ursula laughed and at that moment Claudius ran back to the palace. From that moment Claudius's life fell apart. The tale is still told today with people trying to find the shack. Do you dare?
- Harvey Wilson, SEND PRIMARY WINNER 2021, FIRST PRIZE