AN Accrington man has pocketed a large cash prize after claiming victory at an international creative writing competition.

David Swann, a senior lecturer in English and creative writing at the University of Chichester, won the flash fiction category at this year’s Bridport Prize.

He received £1,000 for his story Drought while he was also highly commended in the short story category for The War Against the Monster.

The 53-year-old said that he has been inspired by his own life in his writing.

He said: “I get inspired by stuff that happens.

“You need to change it a bit to add that imagination but it’s rooted in autobiography.

“I think writing is quite solitary. It’s nice to feel like you’re not just doing a mad thing in a room on your own. It’s good to get some recognition.

“It started with me just scribbling stuff down when I got in from work in the 1990s and then it gets to a point where you want to find out if what you’ve got is any good.”

The Bridport Prize, based in Dorset, was established in 1973 and has £18,000 in prize money available annually.

This year almost 13,000 entries were received from 80 countries to compete for 34 winner and highly commended awards.

Flash fiction covers stories 250 words or less and judge Tim Stevenson chose Mr Swann’s winning story from almost 2,000 entries and said it was ‘a quiet masterclass in detail and understatement’. Mr Swann has also had previous success with awards, including six wins in the Bridport Prize and two in the National Poetry Competition.

He was born and raised in Water Street, Accrington, and also taught media studies in the town and it was his upbringing that inspired his writing.

He said: “I was a kid of the punk and new wave era, with creativity all around. It was a really creative time to be a teenager.

“There were problems but for a time it was brilliant, it was exciting.” Now I teach I try to get students to think the same way.

“There was tonnes of unemployment growing up in Lancashire. I have memories of it being tough and being a time of not much hope.

“It’s hard to get a job, it still it is probably even harder now, it’s tough for young people.”