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Swansea turns a fresh, young page in major literary prizes.

Byline: By KAREN PRICE Western Mail

Celebrated screenwriter Andrew Davies hopes the winner of the world's largest literary award will use the pounds 60,000 prize money to fund the writing of a new masterpiece. Davies, who adapted Pride and Prejudice and Tipping The Velvet for TV, is chairman of the judging panel for the Dylan Thomas Prize, which offers more money than any other similar award.

He was in Swansea yesterday for the launch of the long list of 14 authors who are in the running for the first international award, which is open to published English-language writers under 30.

The list is made up of 12 novelists, one poet and Rhondda writer Rachel Trezise, who has been nominated for her collection of short stories, Fresh Apples.

Poet Nick Laird has double the chance of winning. The husband of acclaimed writer Zadie Smith is shortlisted for his poetry collection To A Fault and his novel Utterly Monkey.

Bafta award-winning writer Davies said he was impressed with the entries, which came from countries as far away as South Africa, Australia and America, as well as Wales.

'I think it's a very good idea to have a prize for young writers,' said Davies. 'At this stage in their lives, pounds 60,000 is a lot of money to them - it could buy a young writer a decent wage for three years, which is enough time to write a masterpiece.'

The EDS Dylan Thomas Prize is the brainchild of Swansea cultural critic Peter Stead.

During a trip to Italy he discovered a town called Viareggio had introduced a fiction prize. He felt Swansea could introduce a similar award which would raise the city's profile globally and celebrate the legacy of its late, great son Dylan Thomas.

Davies revealed he had been inspired by Thomas's work.

'When I was about 12 or 13, I found Dylan Thomas's work, which was a great discovery.

'He was just a huge inspiration to me when I was growing up.'

The prize was launched in 2004 when Oscar winner Catherine Zeta-Jones was named as its international ambassador.

She said, 'I hope as the first ambassador for this new prize I can help attract blazing literary talent from young writers all over the world.

'This is a fantastic initiative and one I am proud to be part of.'

Stead said the long list proved there was a sea of young writing talent out there.

Most of the selected writers had written semi-autobiographical accounts, which told of the harsh realities of growing up in many families today - from violence to sexual politics.

But he promised that they all made for great reading and that the judges would be hard pushed to select a shortlist and then an overall winner.

The judges said they have a definite idea of what they are seeking. 'I am looking for a young writer who has a unique voice but, at the same time, shows where he or she comes from,' said Davies. The shortlist will be revealed in September and the winner of the pounds 60,000 prize will be named at a ceremony at Swansea's Brangwyn Hall on October 27 - the date of Dylan Thomas's birthday.: Gunning for the pounds 60,000:Susan Barker - Sayonara Bar The 26-year-old has a Chinese-Malay mother and an English father and grew up in east London. She spent two years working in Japan after her graduation and has just completed an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester University. Sayonara Bar is her first novel.

Lucy Caldwell - Where They Were Missed

Born in Belfast in 1981, Lucy won the PMA Award for Most Promising Playwright. Her first full-length play, Leaves, won the 2006 George Devine Award. She is currently under commission to write for the main stage at London's Royal Court Theatre.

Kira Cochrane - Escape Routes For Beginners

Born in Essex in 1977, Kira studied American literature in Sussex and California before moving to London to work as a journalist, where she's Woman's Editor at The Guardian. Escape Routes for Beginners is her second novel.

Rodge Glass - No Fireworks

Originally from Cheshire, he has lived in Scotland since 1997, where he graduated from Glasgow University after studying Creative Writing. He writes for The Herald and No Fireworks is his first novel.

Joey Goebel - Torture The Artist

Born in Kentucky in 1980, Joey was a musician, screenwriter, music reviewer and had a job at a horse racetrack before becoming a writer. He's now writing his third novel.

Ian Holding - Unfeeling

Ian is a schoolteacher in Harare, Zimbabwe, where he now also writes. Unfeeling is his first novel and the events are based on what happened to a pupil at his school.

Nick Laird - Utterly Monkey and To A Fault

Born in County Tyrone, Nick studied English at Cambridge, where he won an award for Creative Writing. He is shortlisted for his debut novel, Utterly Monkey, which recently received the Betty Trask Prize, and also for his poetry collection, To A Fault.

Emily Maguire - Taming The Beast

The Sydney novelist, essayist and English teacher has seen her darkly erotic first novel, Taming The Beast, translated into 10 languages. She has won a number of awards for her writing.

James Scudamore - The Amnesia Clinic

Born in 1976, James spent a globe-trotting childhood in Japan, Brazil and Ecuador. After embarking on an MA in Creative Writing he penned his first novel The Amnesia Clinic.

Talitha Stevenson - Exposure

Talitha was born in 1977 and educated in London and Oxford. After returning to the UK from Florence she began writing her first novel, An Empty Room, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award 2003. Her second novel, Exposure, was published this spring.

Mathew David Scott - Playing Mercy

Matthew was born in Manchester in 1978 but has now settled in Newport. He contributes to a number of magazines. His second novel was recently commissioned by Parthian.

Rachel Tresize - Fresh Apples

Rachel was born in Rhondda in 1978 and began producing a local music fanzine as a teenager. She studied journalism and English at the University of Glamorgan in Pontypridd. Her debut novel, In And Out Of The Goldfish Bowl, was published in 2000. She's shortlisted for her short story collection Fresh Apples. Liza Ward - Outside Valentine Liza, 25, was born in New York and has had her work published in many magazines. She now lives in Massachusetts. Outside Valentine is her debut novel.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 22, 2006
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