Last year, we had the honour of speaking to Elena Barham, the winner of the BBC Young Writers’ Award with Cambridge University. Last week, we were invited to the Award Ceremony once again and we managed to catch up with Atlas Weyland Eden, who won this year’s edition for his story, “The Wordsmith”.
The 18-year-old found his enthusiasm for writing when he first sat down to write and realised he enjoyed the process. And younger Atlas felt like it was a good novel. Even though we didn’t get to read that story, we are certain that was the case, especially since the first version of his award-winning story came out around 4 years ago.
Atlas mostly credited homeschooling for his writing development. To him, being homeschooled meant he could use the extra time and space to be with his own thoughts and ideas. Even if that did not necessarily mean sitting down to write, the freedom to do nothing was enough to develop stories in his head.
And because Atlas grew up in Dartmoor and had easy access to woodlands, he was particularly drawn to writing about the rural environment. When asked whether he would have fallen in love with some completely different genre had he grown up in a different place, Atlas believed that while the landscapes in his stories might look different, ultimately nature writing is in his bones.
To Atlas, writing short stories is always a learning process. He strongly believes that it teaches people the craft of literary writing. And because they are short, it is easier to complete each story and build one’s knowledge and skills story by story. Having written many short stories and learned the art of it, Atlas is ready to write his own novel. His ambition is to write a dark fantasy novel with historical elements in it. He is excited to build his own fictional world, something that is harder to do in short stories.
All the shortlisted stories from the BBC Young Writers’ Award with Cambridge University are available to listen on BBC Radio 1’s website.