Stevenage teenager’s ‘heartbreakingly well-written’ story up for BBC Young Writers’ Award

Stevenage teenager Lottie Mills says her short story The Changeling was inspired by frustration with

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 relations - Credit: Archant

A teenager with a disability has been shortlisted for the BBC Young Writers’ Award after penning a short story which challenges people’s preconceptions of disability and celebrates the transformative power of difference.

Lottie Mills, who lives in Stevenage, says her short story The Changeling was inspired by “frustration with how difference, especially disability, is represented in fiction” and she wanted to write a story which reflects the unique strength of outsiders.

Reclaiming the myth of the changeling and transforming it from something used to persecute and exclude into something magical, Lottie explores disability via the fantastic in a story the judges say is “heartbreakingly well-written” and “a genuine triumph”.

Lottie – who is one of five shortlisted writers, aged 15 to 18 – is currently studying English literature at the University of Cambridge and says books and literature are her greatest loves.

When she isn’t reading, 18-year-old Lottie is writing, either on her laptop or, if writer’s block strikes, on her 1930s typewriter.

As someone with a disability, having spent much of her childhood stuck indoors, she says stories are vital to our wellbeing.

Lottie – who was previously shortlisted for the BBC YWA in 2018 for her story Unspoken – is currently working on her first novel, a children’s book, and aspires to be an author as she knows first-hand how life-changing the right story can be.

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Now in its sixth year, the BBC Young Writers’ Award invites all 13 to 18 year olds living in the UK to submit short stories of up to 1,000 words, and it was created to discover and inspire the next generation of writers.

Katie Thistleton, chairman of the 2020 BBC Young Writers’ Award’s judging panel, which includes best-selling and award-winning authors, said: “Congratulations to our five shortlisted writers and thank you to everyone who entered.

“This year has been an unsettling one for young people and writing has proved a powerful way to explore complex feelings and emotions. Gaining insight into the minds of teenagers and what they care about through their writing has never seemed so vital. I hope this year’s entries will inspire others.”

The winner will be announced on October 6.

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