Dora student wins gold in national writing contest

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer

An intelligent young heroine, a mysterious redheaded girl and straw turning to gold star in the story that won a national award for a Roosevelt County eighth-grader.

Katie Bickley, a Pep resident and Dora Consolidated Schools student, won a gold medal in the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards contest for teenagers. According to information from the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, which runs the contest, gold medal winners are among the top 1 percent of the more than 165,000 works of art and writing submitted.

Bickley, daughter of Betty Williamson and Milz Bickley, and the great-niece of the late science fiction author Jack Williamson, said she learned of her award in March.

“I kind of stopped breathing,” she said of her reaction. “I was really, really excited. I was absolutely thrilled.”

Bickley’s winning story, “Lira: A Retelling of Rumpelstiltskin,” won in the science fiction/fantasy category. She said she thought the miller’s daughter in the original fairy tale was silly for not taking matters into her own hands, so she wrote a story where the young woman did just that.

Contest Program Coordinator Matthew Boyd said professionals who work in writing judge stories on creativity, emergence of a personal voice and technical skill. While technical skill is important, he said, judges most look for compelling stories and personal voices and new approaches to topics.

Entries are judged at a regional level, and winners advance to the national level.

Medals are to be presented at Carnegie Hall in New York City in June. Williamson said her family isn’t likely to go, but her daughter’s medal will be sent to her.

Bickley said she decided to enter the contest after her mother received an e-mail about it, although she doesn’t often show off her writing.

“I usually keep it very private, so I thought it’d be fun to submit something,” she said.

Some time before, Bickley had written “Lira,” and she thought it was the best story to submit. Her mother also liked it.

“It’s one of my favorites that she’s done,” Williamson said.

Bickley said she planned to enter the contest again next year, and maybe others later.

By Bickley’s estimate, she has been writing since age 8. She said she enjoys telling stories.

“I’ve written a couple other fairy tale retellings, and I really like doing that because it’s fun to play with those elements,” she said.