We are delighted to announce the winners of the First Novel Award 2019. Our judges this year were Nelle Andrew of Peters, Fraser + Dunlop and author Beth Underdown. More than 525 entries were received from around the world with all genres represented. The standard of entries was very high as reflected in a longlist of 23 titles and a shortlist of 6.
Nelle has signed the winner as well as one of the shortlisted authors. Many thanks to all those who entered and congratulations to our worthy winners.
Submissions for the 2020 First Novel Award will open in January 2020.
Congratulations to our winners and to all those listed.
WINNER– £1,000 cash prize and introduction to Nelle Andrew
The Price of Blood – speculative
Scientists have discovered a way to delay aging using transfusions of blood from young people with teenagers competing to sell their blood to an elderly elite. A story of two families – one with everything to lose and one with nothing.
Nelle “This was an immediate stand out– assured, compelling and innovative. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.”
Beth “Kate’s chapters offered a chilling glimpse into a world in which everything is for sale. Her writing is confident and utterly gripping, effortlessly drawing the reader into the fates of her characters.”
Kate McNair lives in Glasgow. A former writer-in-residence at Cove Park, Scotland and the MacDowell Colony, USA, she has also been the recipient of a Scottish Book Trust New Writer’s Award. Her short fiction has been printed in New Writing Scotland, Gutter, and been recorded for BBC Radio 4. In 2019, her novella, The Lie That Made Her, was shortlisted in the Mslexia Novella Competition.
She has worked as a journalist, editor, touring taiko drummer and Higher Education marketing professional. Currently she’s on maternity leave from the University of Glasgow.
Kate has been signed by Nelle Andrew at Peters, Fraser + Dunlop.
RUNNER UP– £250 cash prize and manuscript review by a BPA editor
Tell All the Bees – historical
A family saga set in Ireland in which a young librarian discovers her family’s past and the power of the honey bee messengers. Themes of truth, facts and the subjective nature of recall.
Nelle “Initially, I didn’t think this novel would grab me but as I continued reading, I was utterly swept up in its evocative writing and deeply realised characters. Quiet power at its best.”
Beth “Thecla’s writing is vivid and completely memorable, offering the reader a sparky and unique narrator who somehow makes unreliability feel fresh.”
Thecla Condon lives in London. She’s had short stories and poetry published or shortlisted in competitions with Fish publishing, First Writer, Still Standen, Ink Tears and Retreat West. She has completed writing courses with Birkbeck College, Curtis Brown and has an MSt in Creative Writing from Oxford University. Tell all the Bees is inspired by the ‘Big House’ dwellers of Ireland, and by a childhood memory of the lady with the black umbrella, in the room upstairs.
Blood in the Blackout – crime thriller
In 1940 women pilots ferrying war planes for the RAF face death in the air while a serial killer stalks them on the ground.
Nelle “ A brilliant premise; incredibly engaging characters and an idea that I cannot understand why it has not been done before. Great story.”
Beth “The reader is instantly gripped by Neil’s pacey, incisive writing. This great idea is backed up by some engaging, stylish characters and a highly convincing world.”
Neil Daws retired from the Civil Service in 2015 after over thirty years, twenty of which were spent in security and counter terrorism. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and was awarded an MBE for charitable services in 2006. A graduate in psychology from the Open University, he completed a course in forensic psychology. Neil is a recent graduate of Curtis Brown’s Write Your Novel course.
Neil has been signed by Nelle Andrew at Peters, Fraser + Dunlop.
This is Just an Observation – contemporary
A fading actor accused of sexual harassment and his daughter suffer from the fallout. Explores themes of dysfunctional families and social isolation as well as the rift between millenials and Generation X.
Nelle “Very on the money with regards to current affairs and the kind of stories we are wanting to see reflective in novels as they are in real life.”
Beth “There’s some fantastic observational writing here, with characters which have clearly been developed with a lot of thought and care.”
Daisy Stella Baldwin grew up in Blackpool and read English at Oxford University. She currently works as a Communications Manager for the International Committee of the Red Cross and is a recent graduate of Faber Academy’s Writing a Novel course.
A Thousand Ways – literary
An exploration of the ways in which family and identity intertwine as well as the loneliness and bewilderment that comes from having an ill child.
Nelle “Deeply personal and affecting story with a great sense of authorial voice.”
Beth “There’s a really unique voice here, and a convincingly-rendered and heartbreaking set of circumstances.”
Gráinne Murphy lives in Ireland. A Thousand Ways was shortlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award 2019 and was a finalist in the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair 2019. Her earlier novels have been shortlisted for the Virginia Prize for Fiction 2014 and the Luke Bitmead Bursary 2016 and longlisted for the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize and Mslexia Novel Award in 2017. She’s also had a number of short stories listed and published.
Gráinne previously worked in forensic research and human resources and now works as a copy editor. She has an MPhil in Applied Psychology from University College Cork and an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University.
Birthrite – adult horror/dark fantasy
A nature versus nurture experiment set among black and white magic witches in the 13thCentury sees two young women unite opposing factions.
Nelle “Incredibly interesting ideas with room for a really gripping alternate take on feminist inspired adult fantasy.
Beth “There are the beginnings of an intriguing world here, with real possibilities for tension and conflict.”
In 2015 Sue was short-listed in the Pen to Print Book Challenge Competition with her novel Green Haven; a haunted house tale spanning 130 years. The book was entered in the Womentoring Project and chosen for a period of mentoring by Catherine Cho at Curtis Brown. Birthrite sprang from a love of history, stories of witchcraft and the desire to create a believable world with an exciting story.
LONGLISTED TITLES AND AUTHORS
8.17 Kate Viggers
A Thousand Ways Grainne Murphy
Alice & Iris Leigh Chambers
And The Walls Came Tumbling Down Anna Korving
Birthrite Sue Burrows
Blood in the Blackout Neil Daws
Blood Bones Natalie Bayley
Coincidence Detection Selaine Henrikson
Cutting the Roses Jane Archer
Eighteen Years Nicola Daly
Elephant Road Apala Chowdhury
Tangled Roots Clare Evans
Tell All the Bees Thecla Condon
The Days Are Falling In Beverley Stark
The Dream World Steven Coombs
The End of Men Christina Sweeney-Baird
The Girl Who Heard Maggots Abigail Davies
The Greater Good Elliot Sweeney
The Peninsula Trish McGrath
The Price of Blood Kate McNair
The Triplets of Mount Sinai Suzanne Reisman
The Unmaking of Eden Dakota Canon
This is Just an Observation Daisy Baldwin