Stevenage teenager wins BBC Young Writers’ Award with powerful short story on disability

PUBLISHED: 10:51 07 October 2020 | UPDATED: 10:51 07 October 2020

Lottie Mills from Stevenage won the BBC Young Writers' Award 2020 with her entry, 'Changeling'. Picture: Courtesy of ED PR.

Lottie Mills from Stevenage won the BBC Young Writers' Award 2020 with her entry, 'Changeling'. Picture: Courtesy of ED PR.

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A 19-year-old girl from Stevenage who lives with cerebral palsey has won the BBC’s Young Writers’ Award 2020, after writing a powerful story focused on “the strengths of disabled people”.

Stevenage teenager Lottie Mills says her short story The Changeling was inspired by frustration with how difference is represented in fiction. Picture: Courtesy of ed public relationsStevenage teenager Lottie Mills says her short story The Changeling was inspired by frustration with how difference is represented in fiction. Picture: Courtesy of ed public relations

Lottie Mills, a second-year English Literature student at Newnham College, University of Cambridge, was congratulated for her entry ‘The Changeling’ at the virtual award ceremony yesterday evening.

Frustrated with how difference, particularly when it comes to disability, is portrayed in fiction, Lottie’s entry was inspired by “otherhood” and aimed to champion positivity.

‘The Changeling’ transforms the myth from something used to persecute and exclude, into a magical and fantastical tale of a girl’s powerful coming of age.

Lottie said: “As a disabled person, my stories are quite often preoccupied with ideas of otherhood, based around characters who are outcast from their society in some way or another.

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“I had been researching fairy-related myths for a university essay and when I came across the idea of ‘changelings’, it really stuck in my mind – especially the modern theory that children suspected of being these fairy imposters were actually displaying symptoms of various disabilities.

“I really wanted to write a story which would show the strengths of disabled people or people who are ‘othered’ in some way, rather than portraying them as disadvantaged and in need of ‘fixing’ as so many stories do.”

Lottie is currently working on her first novel, a children’s book, and hopes to become an author as she knows first hand how life-changing the right story can be.

Kate Thisteton, BBC R1 presenter and chair of the Young Writers’ Award judges, said: “We were blown away by ‘The Changeling’, it’s simply beautiful. I love the way it uses fairy mythology to tell a story about difference, disability and acceptance.

“I’m so happy Lottie won and is considering a career as an author after being inspired by the Young Writers’ Award.”

Lottie beat out tough competition from the four finalists, and the entire group attended a virtual workshop on Saturday, August 29 designed to hone their writing skills and inspire them.

You can read or listen to Lottie’s award winning entry at www.bbc.com/ywa


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