Dominion High School English teacher Molly Menickelly has been named one of six finalists for this year’s £10,000 Manchester Fiction Prize and Poetry Prize at the Manchester Writing Competition, the United Kingdom’s biggest prize for unpublished writing, Loudoun County Public Schools announced Thursday.
“They told me, and then I think the word I used to the very polite manager of the Manchester Writing School was discombobulated. I hung up and I kind of just stared at the wall for like a second,” Menickelly said.
She said she learned about the competition on Twitter.
“Some people that I follow had retweeted that the deadline was soon and I was like, why not,” Menickelly said. And she said she wanted to share what she creates; “A lot of my students do that all the time so that was really inspirational for me.”
Her short story is about a little girl remembering the summer before sixth grade, when all of her friends and classmates were excited and fascinated about the arrival of the cicadas.
Menickelly’s inspiration came from a childhood memory, “Everyone when I was in second grade, was just obsessed with the cicadas,” Menickelly said.
Menickelly continues to write in her free time, working on “a few novels” as well as some short stories set in the same town as the one she submitted in the contest.
The Manchester Writing Competition has occurred every year since 2008. This year the contest will award £10,000 prizes—about $13,099, as of Jan. 30—to the winners of both the poetry and fiction contests.
The Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University will announce the winners at a gala on Feb. 7, at Baronial Hall at Chetham’s Library in Manchester, UK. An additional 38 writers were commended for the quality of their submission this year.