A historical thriller, Half Of You by Carolyn Kirby has won the Bluepencilagency First Novel Award. The runner up is a comedy crime thriller, The Wrong Guy by Neil McLennan. The Award, judged by literary agent Eve White and best-selling author Saskia Sarginson, is given to previously unpublished and unrepresented writers. 20 novels were longlisted and six made the shortlist. The winner receives £1,000 in cash and an introduction to Eve White and the runner up, a writer’s retreat at Retreats for You and an editorial report from Bluepencilagency.
Bluepencilagency editor Emma Haynes comments: “We were delighted with the talent and enthusiasm, receiving writers’ submissions from all over the world. We were looking for a strong opening chapter with an engaging story and a compelling voice. All the shortlisted novels show great promise and we look forward to working with the authors and helping on their journey towards publication.”
“We were impressed at how much undiscovered talent there is out there, the quality of the work was very high. We expect to run the competition again in 2018.” adds Sara Sarre
Details of the shortlisted authors and their novels are as follows:
HALF OF YOU by Carolyn Kirby
Exploring Victorian ideas of Nature versus Nurture and the origins of psychiatry, Half Of You, a thriller set in Victorian Birmingham, follows a young woman’s search for the dark secrets of her past and the reasons behind her violent, scarred personality. Carolyn Kirby studied history at Oxford University and novel writing at the Faber Academy. Half of You was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize 2016 and won second place in the 2017 First Novel Prize. Carolyn’s previous work has been long-listed for the Mslexia Novel Competition, the Exeter Novel Prize and the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize.
Carolyn is represented by David Haviland at Andrew Lownie
“The premise of genetics set in 1880’s Birmingham is interesting and the writing was good.” Eve
“Great setting, good attention to detail and a strong voice. I was completely convinced by the story.” Saskia
THE WRONG GUY by Neil McLennan
The Wrong Guy is a pacey, comedy crime novel (Neil calls it camp noir) featuring murder, manicures and a missing husband, which Neil developed while on the Curtis Brown Creative novel writing course. A lifestyle journalist of 30 years, Neil has written about everything from cocktails to cottage renovation. Recently, he has moved into scriptwriting, penning episodes of daytime TV drama and speculative film scripts. Pandamania, a British family feature film has just been optioned. The Wrong Guy is his first novel inspired and influenced by storytelling that combines humour, heightened emotion and great plot twists.
“Funny and engaging. The story unravels nicely, the characters are well drawn and the writing is tight. I wanted to read on.” Saskia
HANNAH BACKWARDS by Lily Beck
Hannah Backwards deals with issues of identity and paranoia. Hannah, a young woman isolated in an unfamiliar city, Glasgow, tries her best to fit in and forget her past. But when sinister items start turning up at her flat she is forced to question whether her past has caught up with her. Lily wrote this novel in 2016 while studying for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Manchester, where she was lucky enough to work with authors, Jeanette Winterson and Geoff Ryman. Lily previously studied at the Oxford School of Drama and completed an undergraduate degree in film studies and fiction at
Warwick University. She currently lives and work in Barcelona where she teaches English.
Twitter @lilysophiabeck and facebook lily.beck.37
“A lot of potential – reminded me of Gail Honeyman’s novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.” Eve
“Created a sense of menace and creepiness at the outset.” Saskia
SUPERTECH by James Pierson
SuperTech, a thriller exploring the boundaries between cybercrime and cyberwar, follows the story of journalist, Cameron Shaw’s pursuit of the truth who will stop at nothing, no matter the personal cost. James was an investigative journalist in political and current affairs television for almost a decade. He carried out numerous investigations for various programmes including Channel 4 Dispatches, National Geographic International and PBS Television. He recently completed an online writing course with Curtis Brown Creative. He now is working on a non-fiction book as well as blogging on crime and horror novels.
“Great premise and set up at the beginning.” Eve
“Gripping from the first page.” Saskia
THE ACCIDENTAL TIME TRAVELLER by Sylvia Bluck
Historical time travel mystery
Inspired by a fable told around the fire in her family’s woods, The Accidental Time Traveller tells the story of Emily, who accidentally travels from 2016 back to 1936 losing everything she cares for including her children. Fascinated by the timelessness of the woods and the idea of walking through them to arrive in a different era, Sylvia developed the idea into a novel during a creative writing course with New Writing South. The idea of a government department set up to deal with time travel was inspired by her work for the government in international development.
“The existence of a time traveller unit inside the foreign office is an interesting idea with huge potential. I was intrigued by this novel and the ideas behind it.” Saskia
WHITE STOCK by Gill Thompson
White Stock tells the story of a young boy, separated from his mother during the Blitz and believing himself as an orphan, who travels to Australia as part of a forced exodus of child migrants. It’s a powerful story, made all the more poignant the post-war scandal of children being shipped from children’s homes in the UK to Australia, many of whom suffered abuse. The 70th anniversary of the first shipment of children after the Second World War was last month. Although Gill’s version is fictional, she hopes current awareness of the child migrants’ plight will draw readers’ interest to the story. Gill, an English teacher, completed a masters in creative writing from the University of Chichester.
Gill is represented by Anne Williams at Kate Hordern Literary agency.