Aspiring author wins Dh18k pen in 2018 Montegrappa prize

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Aspiring author wins Dh18k pen in 2018 Montegrappa prize
Jillian Fox at the Emirates Literature Festival 2018

Dubai - Jillian Fox will also have a chance to work with literary agent Luigi Bonomi to transform her winning script, titled into a novel


Sherouk Zakaria

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Published: Sat 3 Mar 2018, 7:38 PM

Last updated: Sat 3 Mar 2018, 9:43 PM

A Canadian expat is closer to becoming a published author after winning the Montegrappa Writing Prize on Saturday, for her script that centres around immigrants.
Using her background as an immigrant and a great-granddaughter to two Irish orphans, Jillian Fox will have a chance to work with literary agent Luigi Bonomi to transform her winning script, titled into a novel.
The winning story, picked from 126 entries, revolves around an Irish myth set in the 1840s on a rural island, where two young characters go on a journey of fantasy.
"It is about a girl who feels caught between two places and feels the weight of not having many opportunities, so she tries to figure herself out," said Fox, an English teacher based in Abu Dhabi for the last six years.
Fox won a Dh18,000 Limited Edition Montegrappa Pen from the 163-piece Jibran Khalil Jibran Collection - designed in the memory of the Lebanese poet - after she submitted her fiction manuscript in the annual contest, open to UAE residents over the age of 21.
Fox will be also be flown to London by Emirates Airlines, with accommodation provided by InterContinental Hotels, to discuss her submission with Bonomi.
Four other runners up also received a Montegrappa Limited Edition Pen and copies of the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook, with a chance to meet Bonomi to discuss their works.
Fox, who has completed one-third of her upcoming novel, said the idea came to her during a trip to Ireland. "I was drawn by the culture and setting; the fact that my grandparents - both orphans from Ireland - met in London before moving to Canada; and now here I am, also an immigrant," she said.
GCC writer second runner-up
For the first time, the award was open to young GCC writers. Johara Al Mogbel, 26, was the first aspiring author from Saudi Arabia to be the second runner-up of the prize, for her script , a detective story revolving around an interrogator whose job spirals out of control.
Al Mogbel, a Saudi-based lawyer who works for a start-up accelerators company, said she's been a fan of the festival since her visit in 2015. "When I heard the prize is open for GCC residents, I was excited to apply, but didn't believe I'd make it this far," said Al Mogbel, who started writing as a hobby at age 8.
Now halfway through her novel, Al Mogbel said she plans to get it published. The prize, she said, encourages more Arab talents to meet literary agents and get their work published. "There are a lot of talented writers in the Arab region who don't know the right steps to take or how to contact a literary agent," she said.
Meanwhile, Bonomi said the top five scripts were picked for their marketability, ideas and ability to get published. "It depends on the writer and the concept, and how keenly it makes the reader want to explore," said Bonomi.
For the past years, Montegrappa helped aspiring writers publish their first novels. Applicants have to submit a 400-word synopsis and the first 2,000 words of a fiction manuscript to be eligible for the award, open for those aged 21 and over.

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