The winner of the Steffi McBride short story competition is fourteen year-old Nicole Hendry with her piece, “Do You Think It’s Fair?”. It was just as hard a choice as I had thought it would be but there were a number of reasons why I eventually plumped for this one over the very strong competition.
To start with, of course, there is the standard of the writing. Phrases like “the ache was unbearable, like someone tightening the gears in her face with a spanner” and “she heard her mother’s irritated footsteps ascend the stairs” seemed to sing off the page.
The rules of the competition were that it should be about ‘modern celebrity’ and the subjects of anorexia and of fame being forced on people too young to handle it both seem particularly relevant. The fact that they are being written about by someone who is still the same age as the protagonist also strikes me as important, providing a contrast to us older authors who would naturally see things from a different and perhaps more objective perspective.
I must also confess that Nicole’s story rings some personal bells for me as well. Soon after I left school, many years ago, I worked in a modelling agency and school in Bond Street. I may even have worn a ‘pin-striped suit’, certainly many of my older colleagues did. Even then, when I was still young and hungry, and the instant celebrity business was also still in its infancy, I wondered what was going on in the heads of the girls, many of whom were as young as fourteen, who flocked through the doors in search of fame and adoration in much the same way as X-Factor contestants do today.
I can’t wait to see what Nicole comes up with next.