Dorchester-based author, Gail Aldwin, has been volunteering with VSO International in Uganda since December 2019. Her placement at the Bidibidi refugee settlement is in the north west of the country. The settlement accommodates refugees from South Sudan who have fled their homeland due to ongoing conflict which erupted in 2016. The settlement is the second largest in the world and covers an area the size of Birmingham. Currently there are approximately 230,000 refugees living at the settlement, 80% are women and children. Gail’s work involves supporting parents to meet the psychosocial needs of their children. Her input builds the skills and confidence of parents to promote children’s wellbeing.

Gail’s debut novel The String Games was entered by her publisher Victorina Press into The People’s Book Prize during the summer 2019. This is a national competition that finds, promotes and supports new and undiscovered literary works. The prize was established in 2009 to enable the public to play a role in deciding who the next British bestselling author will be. Winners are entirely decided by public vote. The String Games is a coming-of-age novel that charts the legacy of loss for Nim, whose younger brother goes missing in France during a family holiday when she is ten years old. Finalists in this year’s People’s Book Prize have been announced and Gail’s novel is one of fourteen books in the fiction category. ‘It was such a delight to receive an email with the news. All the time I’ve been beavering away in Uganda, developments have been happening with my creative writing back at home’.

The People’s Book Prize is a prestigious award. In the words of the Founding Patron, Dame Beryl Bainbridge DBE ‘I look forward to the time when we mention this particular prize as the greatest’. The organisation offers a transparent democratic process which empowers the public to vote with confidence for the nation’s next bestsellers and writers of tomorrow. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a Dorset writer win the prize? This is where you can help. Find out more about the Gail’s novel and cast your vote on the link below:

It will only take a minute or two to complete the process but if you vote for The String Games, Gail will be very grateful.

Gail Aldwin is pleased to have the support of independent bookshops in Dorset that stock her novel. Copies are available from The Bookshop in Bridport, Serendip in Lyme Regis, Gullivers in Wimborne and Winstones in Sherborne. You can also order copies through branches of Waterstones.

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