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Left to Right, Luigi Bonomi, 1st Prize Stacey Siebritz for The Leap and Charles Nahhas, for the Montegrappa Award during the Festival Of Litterature at the Intercontinental Festival City, Dubai. Image Credit:

Dubai: A journalist-turned-content writer with a Dubai-based public relations firm won the Montegrappa Writing Prize at the Emirates Literature Festival on Thursday.

UK citizen of South African origin Stacey Siebritz inched closer to getting her first book published by winning the prize that carries a limited edition luxury pen worth Dh15,000 from Montegrappa which she can design by herself.

The prize includes several individual sessions with UK literary agent Luigi Bonomi who has launched the careers of many bestselling authors and a two-night stay at a five star hotel in Dubai.

Seibritz, who teared up on hearing the announcement, told Gulf News that she has been blown away and massively excited about the win.

“It is such a big platform for the writers. I think writing is such a solitary pursuit and it is such a personal one. You are just putting your heart and soul onto the page…To receive feedback from people who have been in the business for a long time is invaluable. I can’t believe I won.”

In her winning novel “The Leap,” the lead character tries out a treatment at a wellness centre that mentally transports into a different world for 48 hours during which you can experience your life and make different choices.

Nassma Al Bahrani, an Iraqi who grew up in Abu Dhabi, who worked here as an animation producer and writer, won the second prize for her book “The Stars Among Us.”

“The feeling itself is so overwhelming. It just feels like your work has been appreciated and recognised. And you also get to know what you are doing right versus the usual critical commentary that you may get,” said Al Bahrani who is currently doing her MFA in creative writing in the UK.

Celina Teague grabbed the third prize for her novel “The Uncoming of Age” which deals with relationships and marriage.

The fourth prize went to Michael Lynes for his crime novel “Blood Libel” while the fifth prize was won by Priyanka Pradhan for her collection of short stories titled “Stories from the Himalayas.”

The top five winners who were chosen from more than 150 entries will be able to discuss their work with Bonomi.

All entries were judged by Bonomi and previous festival authors, including Lucy Strange and Tamsin Winter.

The two past winners of the competition also joined Bonomi to discuss their paths to writing success ahead of the announcement of the prizes.

All winners also get a copy of the current Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook.

Charles Nahhas, managing director of Montegrappa Middle East, who moderated the session, told Gulf News that the winner this year can design her own luxury fountain pen using an online configurator. This will be priced around Dh15,000 and delivered in 10 days, he said.

The runners-up receive exclusive Montegrappa fountain pens from the special edition Mandela collection with a retail value of about Dh1,500 each, he said.

What is Montegrappa Writing Prize

The Montegrappa Writing Prize gives first-time writers above 21 years who live in the GCC (UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait) the chance to have their unpublished manuscripts judged by a UK literary agent.

It has facilitated the publishing of 20 books by eight authors since its inception in 2013.