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Winners Announced for Society of Authors’ Awards 2020

The Society of Authors  revealed the names of the winning authors, poets and illustrators from across the globe who will share in this year’s Society of Authors’ Awards £100,000 prize fund. Showcasing storytelling as activism and literature as a catalyst for change, the winners tackled a range of hard-hitting subjects in their work including war, queer identity, race and climate change.

Announced via video ceremony by Society of Authors’ Chair Joanne Harris, 9 awards were presented to 32 authors, with emerging and established talent recognised across novels, short stories, poetry, non-fiction and a new accolade for illustrated children’s books, The Queen’s Knickers Award. In a celebration of inclusivity with age, race and geography no barrier to success, independent presses were also acknowledged, with Honno Press, Saraband and Scallywag Press featuring amongst the winners’ publishers.

Uniquely judged by authors for authors, the list of winners includes: Trinidadian debut author and Desmond Elliot Prize winner Claire Adam (McKitterick Prize); drag troupe founder and writer of queer Muslim memoir Unicorn, Amrou Al-Kadhi (Somerset Maugham Award); Inua Ellams (Travelling Scholarships), poet, performer and playwright of National Theatre hit ‘Barbershop Chronicles’; Penguin Literary Prize winning Australian author Kathryn Hind (Betty Trask Prize); Guatemalan illustrator Elena Arevalo Melville (Queen’s Knickers Award); and acclaimed Hebridean poet and debut novelist Donald S Murray (Paul Torday Memorial Prize), alongside fellow Scottish writer, the Shetland poet and musician Roseanne Watt who received two accolades today (the Eric Gregory and Somerset Maugham Awards).

The 9 prizes awarded today are: the inaugural Queen’s Knickers Award recognising an outstanding children’s illustrated book for ages 0-7; the Betty Trask Prize for writers under 35; the McKitterick Prize for debut writers over 40; the Somerset Maugham Awards for published works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by writers under 30 to enable them to enrich their work by gaining experience of foreign countries; the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award for a single short story; the Paul Torday Memorial Prize awarded for a first novel by a writer over 60 were announced, in addition to the Cholmondeley Awards for outstanding contribution to poetry, five Travelling Scholarships awarded to British creative writers to enable them to keep in contact with writing colleagues abroad, and the Eric Gregory Awards for a collection of poems by poets under 30. The winners join an illustrious line of previous award winners including Zadie Smith, Seamus Heaney, Helen Dunmore, Hari Kunzru, Carol Ann Duffy and Mark Haddon.

The Society of Authors’ Awards will be celebrated with a day of online activity in lieu of a physical ceremony. Hourly winners’ videos from 10am – 8pm will showcase the nine prizes, with a free virtual afternoon tea at 4pm with author and Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell. Videos and news will be shared from the Twitter (@soc_of_authors) and Instagram accounts (@Society_of_Authors) with the hashtag #SoAwards. For more information please visit www.societyofauthors.org/awards2020. The awards are supported by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS).

 

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Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 Shortlists Announced

The Comedy Women in Print Prize (CWIP), set up by Helen Lederer last year, today (Monday 8th June) revealed the shortlists for the UK and Ireland’s only awards to shine a light on funny writing by women. In all three categories – for Published Comic Novel, Unpublished Comic Novel and Humorous Graphic Novel – the shortlisted stories demonstrate the unique way humour can tackle hard-hitting subjects such as mental health, addiction and gender discrimination.

Three panels of star judges from the worlds of comedy and literature, including bestselling author Marian Keyes, BAFTA-winner Joanna Scanlan, comedians Lolly Adefope and Jen Brister, looked for excellent writing but, above all, humour. They found it in their final shortlists from bestselling authors, creative writing students and experienced TV producers.

The Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 shortlist for Published Comic Novels, judged by Lolly Adefope, Emma Kennedy, Marian Keyes, Pauline McLynn, Joanna Scanlan and Laura Steven, is:

  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams: the critical and commercial hit of the past year is a darkly comic take on life, love and family for a young black British woman. (Trapeze).
  • Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen: a woman’s predictable life with an alcoholic mother is suddenly shattered, from a funny and exciting new voice in Irish literature (John Murray).
  • The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa: a razor-sharp social satire on men, mental health and money in today’s Johannesburg from an acclaimed South African author (Bloomsbury).
  • The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary: a bestselling debut about unconventional living arrangements for London millennials (Quercus).
  • Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe: the third novel of the semi-autobiographical trilogy sees teenager Lizzie longing to get away from her troubled mother (Penguin Random House).
  • The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman: a millennial who works in a bookshop starts a new chapter in life when the father she never knew dies, in this story by an LA-based ghost-writer (Headline).
  • Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson CBE: inspired by Shelley’s Gothic classic, this author makes a rare appearance on a comedy shortlist with her laugh-out-loud set pieces about sex dolls, the bodies we live in and our desires (Jonathan Cape).

The Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 shortlist for Published Humorous Graphic Novels, new this year, judged by Rachael Ball, Hannah Berry, Jen Brister, Janet Ellis, Dr Nicola Streeten and Paula Wilcox, is:

  • Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide- A graphic guide to lesbian and queer history 1950-2020 by Kate Charlesworth: a glorious pageant of LGBTQI+ history which was an Observer Graphic Novel of the Year (Myriad Editions).
  • My Husband is a Cultist by Mei Lian Hoe: an offbeat romantic comedy about a florist married to a Warlock (Self-published).
  • Bloodlust and Bonnets by Emily McGovern: Georgette Heyer meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Simon & Schuster).
  • Was it… Too Much for You? by Danny Noble: a world of nudity and slapstick surrealism inspired by Ken Russell’s film adaptation of Women in Love (Self-published).
  • Cassandra Darke by Posy Simmonds: a reclusive art dealer and fraudster faces difficult life choices, from the doyenne of comics (Jonathan Cape).
  • Stand in Your Power by Rachael Smith: a collection of auto-bio comics focusing on breakups, dating, depression, and love (Self-published).

The Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 shortlist for Unpublished Comic Novels, judged by Yomi Adegoke, Fanny Blake, Kate Bradley, Grace Campbell; Kirsty Eyre; and Dr Jennifer Young, is:

  • The Bird in the River by Zahra Barri: The laugh-out-loud adventures of a singleton who turns to a robot boyfriend and therapy to heal past traumas, by stand-up comedian Barri.
  • Tinker, Tailor, Schoolmum, Spy by Faye Brann: A wacky, comic spy thriller in which a middle-aged housewife is recalled to her secret life, by writer and performer Brann.
  • Everything Is Under Control by Annette Gordon: Growing up in the shadow of her rich and beautiful sister, Carina, musician Zelda must learn to lose control if she’s to find love, by TV producer and director Gordon.
  • The Lady’s Companion by Janey Preger: the romantic adventures of an aristocratic editor, her dear friend and the night-club-dancer she hires, by screenwriter Preger.
  • You Can Drop Me Here by Julia Walter: a forty-something divorcee has an unlikely romance with a man who lives in a van, from Curtis Brown Creative graduate Walter.
  • Second Wife Syndrome by Kathleen Whyman: With increasingly hilarious results, Marie has to take action when her husband’s attention seems more focused on his first family than on her and their daughter, by freelance journalist Whyman.

The CWIP published winner will receive a cash prize of £3000 from the Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS). For the unpublished category, recognising rising comic talent, the winner will receive a publishing contract and a £5000 advance from HarperFiction. An unpublished runner-up receives £2000 from the University of Hertfordshire and mentoring from the MA course in Creative Writing. An additional runner-up will receive a place on the online MA in Comedy Writing from Falmouth University – the first of its kind in the country. The graphic novel category winner will also receive a cash prize, to be announced.

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Summer Reading Challenge Survey

A survey commissioned by The Reading Agency (conducted by Beano Brain Omnibus 2020) to mark the launch of the Summer Reading Challenge 2020 today (Friday 5 June 2020) reveals that 89% of 7-11-year-olds surveyed have been reading during lockdown, with 37% of them reading more than before schools closed. The majority of children have been looking to digital influencers for reading inspiration, with 45% of children turning to YouTube and 28% to social media for ideas – and almost one third (31%) turning to friends for advice.

Reading was cited as something that made children feel relaxed and happy during lockdown, with a quarter (26%) saying characters in books have made them laugh during this difficult time. Chapter books have proved the most popular reads, chosen by 3 in 5 children (61%), with 40% of children opting to read comics. 57% of boys and 65% of girls chose chapter books, and 49% of boys and 30% of girls read comics.

The Summer Reading Challenge, delivered in partnership with public libraries, encourages children aged 4-11 to read during the long summer break, with research showing a dip in reading levels if children do not have regular access to books.

This year, the Challenge’s ‘Silly Squad’ theme places an emphasis on funny books, encouraging children to read whatever makes them happy, whether that’s a book, a comic, a silly poem or a funny joke book — in digital or print format, from e-book lending through the public library service or from what they already have at home. The official Summer Reading Challenge book collection will also act as a guide.

With almost half of the children surveyed (45%) saying they’re most looking forward to seeing their friends after lockdown ends, The Reading Agency’s invitation to ‘Join Our Silly Squad’ could not be more timely. Children taking part in their Challenge are encouraged to form their own virtual Silly Squads and talk about the stories they love, reinforcing social connections and helping to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness, which many children have felt during this time of social distancing.

The survey found:

  • 89% of children have been reading in some form during lockdown.
  • 68% of boys and 70% of girls surveyed reported a love of reading.
  • The majority of children look to digital influencers for reading inspiration, with 45% of children turning to YouTube and 28% to social media for ideas, and almost one-third (31%) following the advice of friends. Traditional media was also a popular source, with 27% getting ideas from seeing books on TV and 18% from hearing about them on the radio.
  • 3 in 5 children (61%) surveyed chose to read chapter books during lockdown, with comics a close second at 40%.
  • Reading has helped 40% of children relax and made over a third (35%) happy, with almost a fifth (17%) talking to friends about books as a way of staying connected and a quarter (26%) saying characters in books have made them laugh during lockdown.

With school life disrupted and many children missing the company of their friends, this year’s all-new digital Summer Reading Challenge will be all the more vital as a way of helping parents and carers find fun, family-friendly activities online, maintain literacy levels and create a safe space for children to connect with their peers.

Children can sign up at www.sillysquad.org.uk from today with a fun-filled series of events from Ambassadors running from 4.00 – 7.00pm on The Summer Reading Challenge Facebook page. The star-studded list of ambassadors taking part in the digital launch include CBBC presenters Sam and Mark; former Blue Peter presenter and children’s authorKonnie Huq; performance poet Joseph Coelho; comedian and TV presenter Paul O’Grady; actress Shobna Gulati; comedian and author David Baddiel; TV adventurer Ben Fogle; and CBBC’s Hacker T Dog reunited with Radio 1’s Katie Thistleton.

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First Ambassadors Announced for Summer Reading Challenge 2020

The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge 2020 has announced the initial line-up of stars in children’s publishing and entertainment who have pledged their support for this year. The nation’s most popular reading challenge which engages over 700,000 children each summer launches in an all-new digital format this year due to Covid-19 and the ongoing social distancing measures in schools and public libraries.

The star-studded list of ambassadors includes: CBBC presenters Sam and Mark; children’s author Jacqueline Wilson; comedian and TV presenter Paul O’Grady; Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell; comedian and author David Baddiel; TV adventurer Ben Fogle; former Blue Peter presenter and children’s author Konnie Huq; performance poet Joseph Coelho and CBBC’s Hacker T Dog reunited with Radio 1’s Katie Thistleton.

They are joined by children’s authors including Rob Biddulph, Philip Ardagh, Guy Bass, Steven Butler, Gareth P Jones, J M Joseph, Jennifer Killick and Silly Squad illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson, all of whom have books in the official Silly Squad book collection. Founder of The Shed School Ashley Bates, illustrator Johanna Basford OBE, actress and comedian Samantha Baines, author and game designer Gabrielle Kent, plus bestselling authors David McKee, Milly Johnson, Dorothy Koomson, Kit de Waal and Kate Clanchy MBE are also offering their support for the campaign.

 Jacqueline Wilson, author and supporter of the Summer Reading Challenge says:

“I feel the Summer Reading Challenge is extra important this year! How sensible to have a Silly theme. We’ve all had to deal with serious and scary issues, so it’s time for a bit of fun. There are so many comical and crazy children’s books to cheer us all up. Let’s get reading and get happy!”

The Summer Reading Challenge will run from June to September, launching on Friday 5th June with a virtual Let’s Get Silly programme running from the Summer Reading Challenge’s Facebook page. The launch will feature special super silly readings, family activities and draw-a-longs from guest celebrities and authors. Over the summer, libraries will continue to run the Challenge in partnership with The Reading Agency, delivering it via virtual services and e-lending platforms, and adapting their delivery if social distancing measures develop and change.

The full schedule will be announced the week commencing Monday 1st June with the following virtual events already confirmed:

  • CBBC’s Sam and Mark kick-off the party with their unique brand of ‘silly’ fun.
  • Readings and jokes from authors including David Baddiel, Ben Fogle, Philip Ardagh, Paul O’Grady, Konnie Huq and Samantha Baines.
  • Silly Time with the BBC’s Katie Thistleton and Hacker T Dog.
  • Draw-a-Longs with official Summer Reading Challenge illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson, and Rob Biddulph.
  • Magic Tricks and Mind-Bending Maths with Mr Bates from The Shed School.
  • Poetry with performance poet and playwright Joseph Coelho.
  • Crafts, colour and creativity with the original queen of colouring, Johanna Basford.
  • Bedtime Reading session with actor Charlie Condou reading from This is Gus by Chris Chatterton, published by Macmillan Children’s Books.
  • Unveiling of the official ‘Let’s Get Silly!’ theme song by Harry Baker and Chris Read.

Karen Napier, CEO of The Reading Agency commented: “The Reading Agency are ready to have a seriously silly summer! (Why do Giraffes have long legs?) We are looking forward to the nation’s families joining the Silly Squad and taking part in the brand-new digital Summer Reading Challenge. Like previous years the Challenge is free to access, and we are working with libraries, schools and publishers to reach as many young people as possible – especially those who find accessing digital difficult. We are pleased to announce our wonderful ambassadors, including the fantastic Summer Reading Challenge book collection authors who are joining us this year, and we can’t wait for the 5th June and the Let’s Get Silly launch event (because they have smelly feet….)”

 

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Shortlists announced

The Society of Authors have announced the shortlists for the Betty Trask, McKitterick, ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Awards, the Paul Torday Memorial Prize, and inaugural Queen’s Knickers Award, a new accolade recognising an outstanding children’s illustrated book for ages 0-7. The wide-ranging list of 29 shortlisted writers, poets and illustrators who seek to share an awards fund of £100,000 includes TV news presenter and Royal Television Society Award winner George Alagiah OBE, Twitter’s unofficial Poet Laureate, Brian Bilston, and Taffy Brodesser-Akner, New York Times Magazine staff writer and international bestseller.

The diverse backgrounds and varied journeys to publication of the 2020 shortlistees showcases the inclusive power of the written word, by demonstrating there is no single route to becoming a successful author. The talent celebrated is also global with recognition for writers and illustrators from Guatemala, to Nigeria, Tobago and Australia, as well as acclaimed British names.

The judges for each award, including William Fiennes, Susan Hill, Vaseem Khan, Sarah Waters, Gary Younge and Korky Paul, praised the shortlisted work, including debuts that ‘leave you profoundly excited for the career that is to follow.’ Their chosen shortlists explore universal themes such as persecution – from 17th Century European witch trials to homophobia in present day Africa; humankind’s precarious relationship with the natural world; the joys and challenges of married life; and the meaning of community.

THE SHORTLISTS FOR EACH AWARD ARE:

THE ALCS TOM-GALLON TRUST AWARD:
Sponsored by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award is awarded for a short story by a writer who has had at least one short story accepted for publication. Judged by Stuart Evers and Michèle Roberts.

  • Ghillie’s Mum by Lynda Clark
  • High Water by Carol Farrelly
  • The Bird That Fluttered Free by Ani Kayode Somtochukwu
  • Whale Watching by Diana Powell
  • Eva at the End of the World by Wendy Riley
  • The Pier at Ardentinny by Catriona Ward

​Previous winners include Benjamin Myers, Lucy Wood, Grace Ingoldby and Claire Harman. Total prize fund: £1,575.

BETTY TRASK PRIZE AND AWARDS:
The Betty Trask Prize and Awards are presented for a first novel by a writer under 35. Judged by Ben Brooks, Elanor Dymott and Vaseem Khan.

  • The Familiars by Stacey Halls (Zaffre, Bonnier Books)
  • The Parisian by Isabella Hammad (Jonathan Cape, Vintage)
  • Hitch by Kathryn Hind (Hamish Hamilton)
  • The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney by Okechukwu Nzelu (Dialogue Books)

​Past winners include Zadie Smith, David Szalay, Hari Kunzru and Sarah Waters. Total prize and award fund: £26,200.

McKITTERICK PRIZE:
The McKitterick Prize is awarded for a first novel by a writer over 40. Judged by Susan Hill, Abir Mukherjee and Christopher Tayler

  • Golden Child by Claire Adam (Faber and Faber)
  • Diary of a Somebody by Brian Bilston (Picador, Pan Macmillan)
  • Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner (Wildfire, Headline)
  • The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins (Viking, PRH)
  • Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession (Bluemoose Books)
  • The Travelers by Regina Porter (Jonathan Cape, Vintage)

Past winners include Helen Dunmore, Mark Haddon and Petina Gappah. Total prize fund: £5,250.

THE QUEEN’S KNICKERS AWARD – INAUGURAL YEAR
This new annual prize, founded by Nicholas Allan, author of The Queen’s Knickers, is awarded for an outstanding children’s original illustrated book for ages 0-7. It will recognise books that strike a quirky, new note and grab the attention of a child, whether this be in the form of curiosity, amusement, horror or excitement. Judged by Alexis Deacon, Emily Gravett and Korky Paul.

  • Umbrella written and illustrated by Elena Arevalo Melville (Scallywag Press)
  • Mr Tiger, Betsy and the Sea Dragon written by Sally Gardner, illustrated by Nick Maland (Zephyr, Head of Zeus)
  • How to Light Your Dragon written by Didier Lévy, illustrated by Fred Benaglia (Thames & Hudson)
  • One Fox written and illustrated by Kate Read (Two Hoots)
  • Child of St Kilda written and illustrated by Beth Waters (Child’s Play)

​Total prize fund: £6,000.

PAUL TORDAY MEMORIAL PRIZE
​The Paul Torday Memorial Prize is awarded to a first novel by a writer over 60. The prize includes a set of the collected works of British writer Paul Torday, who published his first novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen at the age of 60. Judged by William Fiennes, Catherine Johnson and Sarah Waters.

  • The Burning Land by George Alagiah (Canongate Books)
  • Madeleine by Euan Cameron (MacLehose Press, Quercus Books)
  • Reparation by Gaby Koppel (Honno Press)
  • Find Me Falling by Fiona Vigo Marshall (Fairlight Books)
  • As the Women Lay Dreaming by Donald S Murray (Saraband)
  • The Stranger She Knew by Rosalind Stopps (HQ, HarperCollins)

The inaugural Paul Torday Memorial Prize was awarded to Anne Youngson for Meet Me at the Museum in 2019. Total prize fund: £1,000.

The winners will be announced online on Thursday 18th June, with a series of short films to celebrate this year’s winning and shortlisted authors. As part of the SoA @ Home festival, a series of free online events focused on the SoA Awards will run throughout June featuring shortlistees, judges (including Sarah Waters and Barney Norris), past winners, and a special in-conversation event on the afternoon of 18th June with Cressida Cowell.

Further awards presented on Thursday 18th June are the Eric Gregory Awards for a collection of poems by a poet under 30, the Cholmondeley Awards for a body of work by a poet, the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography, Travelling Scholarships awarded to British creative writers to enable them to keep in contact with writing colleagues abroad, and The Somerset Maugham Awards for published works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by writers under 30 to enable them to enrich their work by gaining experience of foreign countries.

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The Reading Agency announce all-new digital Summer Reading Challenge

The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge is asking the nation to join the Silly Squad!

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Illustrations © Laura Ellen Anderson 2020

The Reading Agency announced today (Tuesday 12 May) that the Summer Reading Challenge will return for 2020 with a new website, where children aged 4 – 11 can take part in the Challenge and a “Let’s Get Silly” virtual launch event that the whole family can enjoy.

With the disruption caused by COVID-19 and the impact of social distancing on schools and public libraries, the all-new digital Summer Reading Challenge with its Silly Squad theme will launch earlier than usual to keep children reading over the summer and support parents and carers with children already at home. This year it will be running from June to September 2020. A whole host of virtual (super silly!) curated events with guest celebrities and authors will take place on Friday 5 June to mark the launch of the new digital Challenge. The website will be free to access, featuring games, quizzes and digital and downloadable activities to incentivise and encourage children and their families to take part in the Challenge at home. Although library buildings are closed, libraries will also continue to deliver the Challenge through virtual services and e-lending platforms.

The Summer Reading Challenge encourages children aged 4-11 to read during the long summer holiday with research showing that children’s reading can ‘dip’ severely during the summer if they do not have regular access to books. With school life disrupted and many children missing the company of their friends, this year’s Summer Reading Challenge will be all the more vital as a way of helping parents and carers find fun, family-friendly activities, maintain literacy levels and create a safe space for children to connect with their peers.

This year’s theme will also offer families a chance to have fun and just “GET SILLY!”, with children being encouraged to read anything that makes them happy – whether it be a comic, joke book, poetry, fiction or non-fiction, in digital or print format, from e-book lending through the public library service or from what they already have at home, with the Summer Reading Challenge official book collection as a guide.

Karen Napier, CEO of The Reading Agency commented: “We’re hugely excited to share our new digital Summer Reading Challenge with families across the country this year. The new digital offering will ensure that families and libraries can still take part in the Challenge and help us realise our mission of tacking life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. We are working closely with partners to distribute physical reading materials to those who cannot access digital and working with our library partners to deliver a blended digital and physical model when they reopen. In these difficult times it’s more important than ever that families find ways to have fun and be silly together, while ensuring that children receive the support they need to maintain and build their literacy skills and remain connected with their peers.”

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Longlist Announced for Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020

The Comedy Women in Print Prize (CWIP) today (Monday 20th April) unveiled the longlists for the second year of the UK and Ireland’s only prize to shine a light on work by funny women. With crime fiction, retellings of classics, coming-of-age and contemporary narratives, the list proves there’s no single formula for funny fiction.

At a time when funny books are needed more than ever, writers longlisted in the Published Comic Novel category are: Sunday Times bestsellers Candice Carty-Williams, Sophie Kinsella, Beth O’Leary and Dawn O’Porter; exciting new voice in Irish literature Michelle Gallen; Angela Makholwa, author of South Africa’s first thriller to feature an African female protagonist; Nina Stibbe, whose work has been adapted for BBC One; columnist and grand-daughter of Evelyn Waugh, Daisy Waugh; LA-based ghost-writer Abbi Waxman; Young Adult novelist Kate Weston; Booker Prize longlisted Jeanette Winterson CBE; with Asia Mackay, Lucy Vine and Olga Wojtas longlisted for a second time.

CWIP 2020 - Published Prize longlist

A new award category celebrates Published Humorous Graphic Novels by women for the first time. The longlist includes Posy Simmonds MBE, a Cartoonist of the Year prize winner, and Kate Charlesworth for her Observer Graphic Novel of the Year guide to post-war queer British history. Twelve aspiring novelists are also longlisted in the Unpublished Comic Novel category. A surprise Game Changer Award will be presented to echo Jilly Cooper’s Lifetime Achievement prize last year.

The CWIP Prize was launched by actress, author and stand-up Helen Lederer in 2019 in response to the lack of exposure for female comedy writing, and as a way of celebrating fresh and established talent.

Marian Keyes, Chair of Judges for the CWIP Published Novels Prize, says: “I am absolutely delighted with our longlist. The range is glorious – everything from lighthearted commercial fiction to literary fiction – it’s a demonstration of all the different ways in which women can be funny in print. It was a pleasure and very exciting to read all ninety submissions, and this is a list that I’m very proud of.”

Helen Lederer, Founder of the CWIP Prize, says: “I’m relieved the longlisted titles reflect both anti-snobbery and a huge respect for literary wit. A new but necessary punctuation mark highlighting the visibility of women’s wit on the page.”

The Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 longlist for Published Comic Novels is:

  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (Hachette UK / Trapeze)
  • Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen (John Murray Publishers)
  • Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (Transworld Publishers / Bantam Press)
  • The Nursery by Asia Mackay (Bonnier Books UK/ Zaffre)
  • The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (Quercus)
  • So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter (HarperCollins UK)
  • Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe (Penguin Random House
  • Are We Nearly There Yet? by Lucy Vine (Orion)
  • In the Crypt with a Candlestick by Daisy Waugh (Little, Brown Book Group)
  • The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman (Headline Publishing Group)
  • Diary of a Confused Feminist by Kate Weston (Hachette Children’s Group)
  • Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson (Jonathan Cape)
  • Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Vampire Menace by Olga Wojtas (Saraband)

The Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 longlist for Published Humorous Graphic Novels is:

  • Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide: A graphic guide to lesbian and queer history 1950-2020 by Kate Charlesworth (Myriad Editions)
  • The Trials & Tribulations of Mr. T. Deeyum by Susannah Felstead (Self-published)
  • Passing for Human by Liana Finck (Jonathan Cape)
  • The “C” Word by Vanessa Lawrence (Self-published)
  • A Pocketful of Clouds Volume 6: Practical Mythology by Morag Lewis (Sweatdrop Studios)
  • My Husband is a Cultist by Mei Lian Hoe (Self-published)
  • Life Drawing. A Life Under Lights by Jessica Martin (Unbound)
  • Bloodlust and Bonnets by Emily McGovern (Simon & Schuster)
  • Was it… Too Much for You? by Danny Noble (Self-published)
  • Cassandra Darke by Posy Simmonds (Jonathan Cape)
  • Stand in Your Power by Rachael Smith (Self-published)

The Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 longlist for Unpublished Comic Novels is:

  • Nigel by Tierney Acott
  • The Bird in the River by Zahra Barri
  • Tinker, Tailor, Schoolmum, Spy by Faye Brann
  • Everything Is Under Control by Annette Gordon
  • Sandwich by Nancy Peach
  • The Lady’s Companion by Janey Preger
  • New Members Welcome by Sarah Scally
  • The Club for Mature Indulgence by Elaine Simmonds
  • Plan C by Lindsey Symonds
  • Kassie McKinnon Is Starving by Karen Vivers
  • You Can Drop Me Here by Julia Walter
  • Second Wife Syndrome by Kathleen Whyman

The international bestselling writer Marian Keyes is Chair of Judges for the CWIP Prize for Published Novels. Marian is joined by: BAFTA-winning writer and actress Joanna Scanlan (Getting On, The Thick of It); writers and actresses Emma Kennedy (The Kennedys) and Pauline McLynn (Father Ted); comedian and actress Lolly Adefope, recently seen on BBC Three’s Shrill; and Laura Steven, winner of CWIP’s inaugural published prize for The Exact Opposite of Okay.

The judging panel for the CWIP Prize for Unpublished Novels is chaired by Fanny Blake, a former publisher and author of eight novels, who has judged numerous book prizes including the Costa First Novel Award. Fanny is joined by: Yomi Adegoke, award-winning journalist and co-author of bestseller Slay in Your Lane; Kate Bradley, Editorial Director at HarperFiction; stand-up comedian, writer, director and activist Grace Campbell; winner of the 2019 CWIP Unpublished novel category, Kirsty Eyre; and Dr Jennifer Young, Head of Writing and Journalism at Falmouth University.

The inaugural CWIP Prize for Published Humorous Graphic Novels is chaired by author and former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis. Janet is joined by: Rachael Ball from LDComics, author of The Inflatable Woman (a Guardian Best Graphic Novel of 2015); UK Comics Laureate Hannah Berry; stand-up comedian and author Jen Brister; Dr Nicola Streeten, director of LDComics, writer, artist and teacher; and acclaimed actress Paula Wilcox.

The CWIP published winner will receive a cash prize of £3000 from the Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS). For the unpublished category, recognising rising comic talent, the winner will receive a publishing contract and a £5000 advance from HarperFiction. An unpublished runner-up receives £2000 from the University of Hertfordshire and mentoring from the MA course in Creative Writing. An additional runner-up will receive a place on the online MA in Comedy Writing from Falmouth University – the first of its kind in the country. The graphic novel category winner will also receive a cash prize, to be announced. For more details about CWIP and full terms and conditions visit www.comedywomeninprint.co.uk

The Comedy Women in Print Prize winners will be announced at an award ceremony at the Groucho Club, rescheduled from July to Monday 14th September 2020.

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Society of Authors’ Awards 2020 judges announced

The judges have been announced for the 2020 Society of Authors Awards, including Booker Prize and Women’s Prize shortlistee Sarah Waters, Kate Greenaway Medal winner Emily Gravett, and award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist Gary Younge.

The esteemed judges for the 2020 Society of Authors’ Awards are announced today (Wednesday 18th March), with a line-up including authors Aida Edemariam, William Fiennes, Susan Hill, Vaseem Khan, Sarah Waters, and broadcaster and journalist Gary Younge. This year sees a new annual prize awarded for the first time, The Queen’s Knickers Award, founded by children’s author Nicholas Allan, which recognises an outstanding children’s illustrated book for ages 0-7. This will be judged by writers and illustrators Alexis Deacon, Emily Gravett and Korky Paul.

With prizes worth more than £100,000 in total, the annual ‘night of riches’ has rewarded the early works of some of today’s most prominent literary figures such as Carol Ann Duffy, Seamus Heaney and Zadie Smith, across fiction, poetry and non-fiction. It has honoured the careers of iconic writers including Dylan Thomas, William Golding and Margaret Drabble. Last year’s winners included 70-year-old debut novelist Anne Youngson, Rathbones Folio Prize winning poet Raymond Antrobus and Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists Nadifa Mohamed.

THE JUDGES ANNOUNCED FOR EACH AWARD ARE:

ALCS TOM-GALLON TRUST AWARD:
JUDGED BY STUART EVERS AND PETINA GAPPAH

Sponsored by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award is awarded for a short story by a writer who has had at least one short story accepted for publication. Previous winners include Benjamin Myers, Lucy Wood, Grace Ingoldby and Claire Harman. Total prize fund: £1,575.

BETTY TRASK PRIZE AND AWARDS:
JUDGED BY BEN BROOKS, ELANOR DYMOTT AND VASEEM KHAN

The Betty Trask Prize and Awards are presented for a first novel by a writer under 35. Past winners include Zadie Smith, David Szalay, Hari Kunzru and Sarah Waters. Total prize and award fund: £26,200.

CHOLMONDELEY AWARDS:
JUDGED BY GRACE NICHOLS, PAUL FARLEY, DREW MILNE AND DERYN REES-JONES

The Cholmondeley Awards are awarded for a body of work by a poet. Previous winners have included Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy, John Agard and Andrew Motion. Total prize fund: £8,400.

ELIZABETH LONGFORD PRIZE FOR HISTORICAL BIOGRAPHY:
JUDGED BY RICHARD DAVENPORT-HINES, ROY FOSTER, ANTONIA FRASER AND FLORA FRASER

Awarded for a historical biography. Previous winners include Ian Kershaw and Anne Somerset. Total prize fund: £5,000.

ERIC GREGORY AWARD:
JUDGED BY VAHNI CAPILDEO, INUA ELLAMS, DON PATERSON, KATHERINE PIERPOINT, MICHAEL SYMMONS ROBERTS AND ROGER ROBINSON

The Eric Gregory Award is presented for a collection of poems by a poet under 30. Past winners include Carol Ann Duffy, Tom Chivers, Helen Mort and Alan Hollinghurst. Total prize fund: £28,350.

McKITTERICK PRIZE:
JUDGED BY SUSAN HILL, ABIR MUKHERJEE AND CHRISTOPHER TAYLER

The McKitterick Prize is awarded to a first novel by a writer over 40. Past winners include Helen Dunmore, Mark Haddon and Petinah Gappah. Total prize fund: £5,250.

SOMERSET MAUGHAM AWARDS:
JUDGED BY NADIFA MOHAMED, BARNEY NORRIS AND IAN THOMSON

The Somerset Maugham Awards are for published works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by writers under 30, to enable them to enrich their work by gaining experience of foreign countries. Past winners include Helen Oyeyemi, Julian Barnes, Zadie Smith and Jonathan Freedland. Total prize fund: £16,000.

THE QUEEN’S KNICKERS AWARD:
JUDGED BY ALEXIS DEACON, EMILY GRAVETT AND KORKY PAUL.

This new annual prize, funded by Nicholas Allan, author of The Queen’s Knickers, is awarded to an outstanding children’s original illustrated book for ages 0-7. It will recognise books that strike a quirky, new note and grab the attention of a child, whether this be in the form of curiosity, amusement, horror or excitement. Total prize fund: £6,000.

THE PAUL TORDAY MEMORIAL PRIZE:
JUDGED BY WILLIAM FIENNES, CATHERINE JOHNSON AND SARAH WATERS

The Paul Torday Memorial Prize is awarded to a first novel by a writer over 60. The prize includes a set of the collected works of British writer Paul Torday, who only published his first novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen at the age of 60. Total prize fund: £1,000.

THE TRAVELLING SCHOLARSHIPS:
JUDGED BY TAHMIMA ANAM, AIDA EDEMARIAM, ADAM O’RIORDAN, SAMEER RAHIM AND GARY YOUNGE

The Travelling Scholarships are awarded to British writers to enable engagement with writers abroad. Previous recipients have included Dylan Thomas, Laurie Lee, Margaret Drabble and Helen Simpson. Total prize fund: £8,000

For more information visit www.societyofauthors.org/prizes.

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EDPR shortlisted for three PPC Annual Awards

The Publishers Publicity Circle has announced the shortlist for their Annual Awards given for the best campaigns carried out by book publicists in 2019. Three campaigns orchestrated by ed public relations have been shortlisted for the prestigious awards.

Emma Draude and Annabelle Wright’s PR campaign for ‘My Name is Why’ by Lemn Sissay on behalf of Canongate has been shortlisted for The Bookseller Award for Hardback Non-Fiction. Shona Abhyankar’s Elmer’s 30th Anniversary celebrations for David McKee’s beloved children’s book published by Andersen Press, was shortlisted for The Edinburgh Book Festival Award for Best Generic Campaign. Emma and Annabelle’s work for Knights Of on The Run Series, consisting of the books ‘Ghost’ and ‘Patina’ by Jason Reynolds, was also recognised in this category.

The awards will be judged by representatives from sponsoring organisations, with the winners revealed at the PPC Annual Awards Dinner that will take place on the 2nd March 2020. A selection of the category winners of the PPC Annual Awards will form the shortlist for Publicity Campaign of the Year at the British Book Awards.

Read the full shortlist here 

 

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Judges Announced for Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020

The Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 (CWIP) today announces the full line-up of celebrated judges for the award’s second year. CWIP is the UK and Ireland’s first prize to shine a light on work by funny women writers. It was created by actress, author and stand-up comedian Helen Lederer and launched in 2019 in response to the lack of support and exposure for female comedy writing and as a way of discovering new talent. This year, a new award category will celebrate the unsung genre of humorous graphic novels.

The international bestselling writer Marian Keyes will chair the judges for the CWIP Prize for published novels. Marian is joined by: BAFTA-winning writer and actress Joanna Scanlan (Getting On, The Thick of It); writers and actresses Emma Kennedy (The Kennedys) and Pauline McLynn (Father Ted); comedian and actress Lolly Adefope, recently seen on BBC Three’s Shrill; and Laura Steven, winner of CWIP’s inaugural published prize for The Exact Opposite of Okay.
The judging panel for the CWIP Prize for unpublished novels is chaired by Fanny Blake, a former publisher and author of eight novels, who has judged numerous book prizes including the Costa First Novel Award. Fanny is joined by: Yomi Adegoke, award-winning journalist and co-author of bestseller Slay in Your Lane; Kate Bradley, Editorial Director at HarperFiction; stand-up comedian, writer, director and activist Grace Campbell; winner of the 2019 CWIP Unpublished novel category, Kirsty Eyre; and Dr Jennifer Young, Head of Writing and Journalism at Falmouth University.

The inaugural CWIP Prize for humorous graphic novels will be chaired by author and former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis. Janet is joined by: Rachael Ball from LDComics, author of The Inflatable Woman (a Guardian Best Graphic Novel of 2015); UK Comics Laureate Hannah Berry; stand-up comedian and author Jen Brister; Dr Nicola Streeten, director of LDComics, writer, artist and teacher; and acclaimed actress Paula Wilcox.

Entries for the award are now open and the closing date for submissions is Monday 2nd March 2020. Audible is providing support to finance CWIP for 2020.The CWIP published winner will receive a cash prize of £3000 from the Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS). For the unpublished category, recognising rising comic talent, the winner will receive a publishing contract and a £5000 advance from HarperFiction. The unpublished runner-up receives £2000 from the University of Hertfordshire and mentoring from the MA course in Creative Writing. A second runner-up will receive a place on the online MA in Comedy Writing from Falmouth University – the first of its kind in the country. The graphic novel category winner will also receive a cash prize, to be announced. For more details about CWIP and full terms and conditions visit www.comedywomeninprint.co.uk. The Comedy Women in Print Prize winners will be announced at an award ceremony in early July 2020.

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BBC National Short Story Award

The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University (NSSA) and BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University (YWA) open for submissions today with Radio 4 presenter, journalist and author Jonathan Freedland chairing the judging panel for the BBC NSSA, an award that has enriched both the careers of writers and the wider literary landscape since its launch fifteen years ago.

Jonathan’s counterpart on the BBC YWA is Radio 1 Presenter Kate Thistleton. She chairs the judging panel for the teenage award for the third time as it opens for submissions for the sixth year. Katie is the presenter of Radio 1’s Life Hacks and The Official Chart: First Look. The BBC Young Writers’ Award has lowered its age limit this year from 14 to 13 years old and will now be open to all writers between the ages of 13-18 years. This will offer continuity from BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words competition for 5-13 year olds which also opens for submissions today.

Jonathan Freedland, Chair of the 2020 BBC National Short Story Award Judging Panel, says:

It’s a great honour to be asked to chair the judges for this year’s BBC National Short Story Award. It’s a form that allows for narratives of great economy and, with that, particular intensity. As Roald Dahl, whose stories I lapped up as a teenager, proved, a good short story can linger in the mind long after countless voluminous novels have been forgotten. It’s the three-minute pop song of literature  a discipline that seems easy but requires complete mastery of the craft. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what today’s writers have on their minds and what they have to tell us about the way we live now.”

Freedland and Thistleton will be joined by a group of acclaimed writers and critics on their respective panels. For the BBC National Short Story Award: Commonwealth Prize winner Lucy Caldwell who was shortlisted for both the 2012 and 2019 BBC NSSA; British Nigerian writer Irenosen Okojie, a Betty Trask winner and Jhalak Prize shortlistee; Edge Hill Prize shortlistee and Guardian short story columnist Chris Power; and returning judge, Di Speirs, Books Editor at BBC Radio.

For the BBC Young Writers’ Award, Thistleton will be joined by Laura Bates, Sunday Times bestselling author and founder of ‘The Everyday Sexism Project’; screenwriter, novelist and YA Book Prize 2018 winner Will Hill; winner of the Branford Boase Award and shortlistee for the YA Book Prize 2019 Muhammad Khan; and poet, critic and journalist Bridget Minamore.

Katie Thistleton, Chair of the 2020 BBC Young Writers’ Award Judging Panel, says:

I’m really looking forward to chairing the judging panel for the BBC Young Writers Award for my third year in a row! I’ve been really impressed with the standard of work we’ve received in the past couple of years. As I host Radio 1’s social action and mental health show Life Hacks, I love reading the work that comes in, as it is a great reflection of what young people are thinking about and feeling at the time. I always wanted to be a writer when I was younger but wasn’t sure I’d be good enough people shouldn’t let that stop them. Just write what you feel and send it in, you never know! Everyone has a story to tell and we can’t wait to read yours.”

The BBC National Short Story Award is one of the most prestigious for a single short story, with the winning author receiving £15,000, and four further shortlisted authors £600 each. The stories are broadcast on Radio 4 and published in an anthology. The 2019 winner of the BBC National Short Story Award was Welsh writer Jo Lloyd, who won for The Invisible’, a timeless story set in Wales and inspired by social divisions and folklore. Previous alumni of the award include Lionel Shriver, Zadie Smith, Hilary Mantel and Jon McGregor.

The writers shortlisted for the BBC Young Writers’ Award have their stories broadcast in a special Radio 1’s Life Hacks podcast and published in an anthology. The winner of the 2019 Young Writers’ Award was 16-year-old Georgie Woodhead for her vivid and tragi-comic story ‘Jelly-headed’. Both stories are available to listen to on BBC Sounds.

KEY AWARD DATES:

  • The deadline for receipt of entries for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University is 9am (GMT) Monday 9th March 2020. The deadline for receipt of entries for the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University is 9am (GMT) Monday 23rd March 2020. 
  • The shortlist for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University will be announced on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row at 7.15pm on Friday 11th September 2020. The shortlist for the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University will be announced on Radio 1’s Life Hacks from 4pm on Sunday 20th September 2020.
  • The stories shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University will broadcast on BBC Radio 4 from Monday 14th to Friday 18th September 2020 from 3.30pm to 4pm.
  • The announcement of the winners of the two awards will be broadcast live from the award ceremony at BBC Broadcasting House on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row from 7.15pm on Tuesday 6th October 2020.
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Merry Christmas from ed public relations

Another fantastic year at ED PR. We’ve worked with incredible authors on amazing books, and have even more exciting projects coming up in 2020! 

We’d like to thank all of our brilliant clients, authors and publishers and the wonderful journalists and bloggers who have supported us. Wishing you all health, success and happiness in 2020

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020

The Comedy Women in Print (CWIP) Prize, the UK and Ireland’s first prize to shine a light on witty women, launches for its second year today (Friday 25th October) with a call for submissions for 2020 with a new award for graphic novels.

Following a successful inaugural year, this year’s Prize will once again be supported by HarperCollins, the University of Hertfordshire and The Writers’ Guild, with additional support from the Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society and Falmouth University. Bestselling author Marian Keyes will return as Chair of Judges, and a new award celebrating the unsung genre of humorous graphic novels and developed in partnership with LDComics, the largest women-led comics forum in the UK, has also been added to the 2020 Prize line-up. 

The CWIP Prize, officially launched at the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2018, was created by actress and stand-up comedian Helen Lederer in response to the lack of support and exposure for female comedy writing and as a way of discovering and nurturing new talent. The inaugural 2019 awards were won by Laura Stevens’ The Exact Opposite of Okay (Egmont) in the published novel category, and Kirsty Eyre’s Cow Girl in the unpublished novel category – with international bestseller Jilly Cooper given the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The CWIP published winner will receive a cash prize of £3000 from the Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS). For the unpublished category recognising rising comic talent, the winner will receive a publishing contract and a £5000 advance from HarperFiction. The unpublished runner-up receives £2000 from the University of Hertfordshire and mentoring from the MA course in Creative Writing. The second runner-up will receive a place on the online MA in Comedy Writing from Falmouth University – the first of its kind in the country. The graphic novel category winner will also receive a cash prize, to be announced.

The closing date for all awards is Monday 2nd March 2020 with the shortlists announced on Monday 1st June 2020 and the winners announced at a live ceremony in July 2020.

KEY DATES:

  • Friday 25th October 2019: Entries open for submission
  • Monday 2nd March 2020: Closing date for submissions
  • Monday 20th April 2020: Longlist announcement
  • Monday 1st June 2020: Shortlist announcement
  • July 2020: CWIP Winners’ event

For more details about CWIP and full terms and conditions visit www.comedywomeninprint.co.uk

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BBC NSSA & YWA 2019

Welsh writer Jo Lloyd has won the fourteenth BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University 2019 (NSSA) for ‘The Invisible’, a distinctive and compellingly original story. Inspired by the life of an 18th Century woman from Carnarvonshire called Martha who claimed to be friends with an invisible family living in an invisible mansion, Lloyd discovered her story by chance in the online Dictionary of Welsh Biography. Set in a close-knit community, the story is both timeless and universal, and resonates profoundly in an age where fear of outsiders and social division is rife.

Jo Lloyd, winner of the BBC NSSA 2019

Jo Lloyd was presented with the prize of £15,000 this evening (Tuesday 1 October) by the 2019 Chair of Judges Nikki Bedi at a ceremony held at BBC Broadcasting House. The news was announced live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, during a special programme celebrating the short story. ‘The Invisible’ is available to listen to on BBC Sounds.

It is also the fifth year of the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University, which was created to inspire and encourage the next generation of short story writers. A cross-network collaboration between BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 1, the award is open to 14-18 year olds and was won this year by 16-year-old Georgie Woodhead from Sheffield for her story Jelly-headed’. It can be read at www.bbc.co.uk/ywa and heard on BBC Sounds.

Jo Lloyd grew up in South Wales and has recently returned to live there. Her stories have appeared in The Best British Short Stories 2012, Zoetrope: All-Story, Ploughshares, Southern Review, and her short story, ‘The Earth, Thy Great Exchequer, Ready Lies’ featured in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2018, widely regarded as the most prestigious awards for short fiction in the US. Lloyd has also previously won an Asham Award, the Willesden Herald International Short Story Prize, and a McGinnis-Ritchie Award.

Jo Lloyd said of her shortlisting, “It’s thrilling. I follow the Award every year and listen to all the shortlisted stories, and I’m always hugely impressed by the quality and range. It’s an honour and a delight to be part of it this year.” 

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BBC Young Writers’ Award 2019

The need for understanding, emotional connection and reconciliation feature in a ‘confident’, ‘irreverent’ and ‘experimental’ shortlist for the 2019 BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University announced live on BBC Radio 1’s Life Hacks today (Sunday 22 September).

For the first time, a love of poetry and a desire to experiment with the short story form has been mentioned by each of the shortlisted writers, with 2018 Foyle Young Poet Georgie Woodhead featuring on the shortlist. The five stories – many deeply personal – range from the comic, to the lyrical, to the tragic, and are written by an all-female shortlist of young writers aged 16 and 17 years from across the UK.

Showing a fearless confidence in form and tone, the stories explore divorce, coming of age, mental illness, loneliness and the meaning of life, and range from the meditative to flash-fiction. Whether it be the brutally evocative story of kinship found in hospital as a teenager battles anorexia; the implosion of a young girl’s family life told through the change of seasons on her father’s allotment; the tragi-comic story of a freak accident on a nightclub roof; a search for the meaning of home via a journey from island to city; or the funny and tender story of an introvert archivist and his connection to an exhibit – each finalist has shown a fresh, sophisticated and unique approach to their subject.

Katie Thistleton, BBC Radio 1 presenter and Chair of Judges, BBC YWA 2019 says:
I am particularly excited about the shortlist this year because we had such a diverse range of stories submitted and the final five really reflect that – no two have a similar style or topic. For that reason, there’s something for everyone and I think it will also encourage people listening or reading to want to write themselves, and perhaps enter next year!

The shortlisted stories and writers are:

  • ‘Insula’ by Eleanor Clark, 16, from mid-Devon. This ‘rite of passage’ is told via a young woman’s journey from the safe community and almost magical island of her childhood to the brutal, isolation of the city. Evocative and sophisticated with a strong sense of place, the story laments the inevitability of growing up and champions the importance of rural communities.
  • ‘Another Pair of Eyes’ by Tallulah Howarth, 17, from Macclesfield. Inspired by the true story of John Dalton, a Northern scientist known for his study into colour blindness who asked for his eyes to be preserved after his death, this is the strange and touching tale of a lonely archivist who becomes emotionally attached to ‘Dalton’s eyes’. Tender and funny, this unique piece of flash-fiction is short, yet beautifully realised.
  • ‘The Blue of Spring Violets’ by Isobel Paxton, 17, from Edinburgh. Set in a psychiatric ward, this brutal, rich and sensory story explores the kinship of the patients as they find kindness, connection and humanity in their pain.
  • ‘Allotment’ by Rowan Taylor, 16, from Reading. The story of a daughter’s changing relationship with her father after her parent’s marriage break-up, this beautifully told story shows the shift from desolation through sadness to new love as the seasons pass and new life, and hope, awakens on the father’s allotment.
  • ‘Jelly-headed’ by Georgie Woodhead, 16, from Sheffield. ‘Jelly-headed’ is a comic, quirky and ultimately tragic story of two friends, a night out and a lightning strike that brings devastation. A story about guilt and the absurdity of life, this funny, subversive story is ultimately about searching for meaning or connection.

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BBC National Short Story Award 2019

Lucy Caldwell, multi-award-winning novelist, playwright and short story writer, has been shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University for the second time for ‘The Children’. Previously shortlisted in 2012 for ‘Escape Route’, one of her first ever short stories, Caldwell is joined on the 2019 shortlist by a wealth of emerging talent including University of Dundee Fellow and former bookseller Lynda Clark for ‘Ghillie’s Mum’; charity worker Jacqueline Crooks for ‘Silver Fish in the Midnight Sea’; civil servant Tamsin Grey for ‘My Beautiful Millennial’; and Welsh writer Jo Lloyd for ‘The Invisible’. The shortlist of five stories was announced this evening, Friday 6 September 2019, during BBC Radio 4 Front Row.

The shortlist is:

  • The Children’ by Lucy Caldwell
  • Ghillie’s Mum’ by Lynda Clark
  • Silver Fish in the Midnight Sea’ by Jacqueline Crooks
  • My Beautiful Millennial’ by Tamsin Grey
  • ‘The Invisible’ by Jo Lloyd

The need for empathy and human connection are key themes this year in a rich and varied shortlist that is set in both contemporary and fantastical worlds. Loneliness, activism, intolerance and social exclusion are all explored in stories that range from the comic contemporary to the mythic with inspiration coming from Brexit, Trump, #MeToo and experiences of immigration and isolation.

Intimate and immersive, each short story shows the potent power of the form to reflect the political via the personal. From Lucy Caldwell’s ‘The Children’, a tale about motherhood and loss told through the deft interweaving of the true story of a 19th century child custody campaigner, a modern mother’s health scare and the child migrant crisis on the US/Mexican border as reported via Twitter; to Jacqueline Crook’s evocative and haunting ‘Silver Fish in the Midnight Sea’ exploring isolation, neglect and social exclusion set against memories of Jamaica and childhood summers; to the magical, fantastical world of Lynda Clark’s ‘Ghillies Mum’ where ‘otherness’ and intolerance are explored in the story of a family who are able to shape-shift into animals.

Richly varied and tonally diverse, each story reflects the importance of community and human connection in an increasingly divided world. From the otherworldly, almost mythical Welsh village of Jo Lloyd’s ‘The Invisible,’ where a community is torn apart by one woman’s stories about the ‘invisible’ Ingram family, while in the contemporary metropolis of Tamsin Grey’s wonderfully comic ‘My Beautiful Millennial’, a young woman alone in London is desperate to make a connection. All five are beautifully told stories that conjure complete worlds for the reader and listener.

Now celebrating its fourteenth year, the Award is one of the most prestigious for a single short story, with the winning writer receiving £15,000, and the four further shortlisted authors £600 each. Selected from over 900 entries (an increase of 15% on 2018), this year’s shortlist is the sixth all-female shortlist in the BBC National Short Story Award’s history. The winner will be announced live on BBC Radio 4 Front Row on Tuesday 1 October.

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My Name Is Why is a Sunday Times Number One Bestseller

Lemn Sissay’s heartbreaking and beautiful memoir, My Name Is Why, has shot to number 1 on the Sunday Times bestseller list in its first week of sales. EDPR are so delighted to be part of #TeamLemn, working with Canongate Books on what continues to be a truly rewarding campaign. Congratulations, Lemn – a wonderful achievement, richly deserved.

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Comedy Women In Print Prize

The inaugural Comedy Women in Print Prize (CWIP) for Published and Unpublished writers was announced this evening (Wednesday 10 July), at a star-studded ceremony at The Conduit Club in London.  In the Published author category, journalist and debut author Laura Steven won with The Exact Opposite of Okay (Egmont), her “daring, edgy and topical” Young Adult novel about slut-shaming and the issues faced by girls today. Stage and screenwriter Kirsty Eyre won the Unpublished category for queer rom-com Cow Girl, “an original and modern take on a romantic storyline” set in the unlikely world of dairy farming. Multi-million copy bestselling author Jilly Cooper CBE was awarded the first CWIP Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her legacy and inspiration to comic women writers everywhere. The award was presented by Theo Paphitis, CEO of Rymans and CWIP sponsor.

Comedy Women In Print Prize awards ceremony

Laura Steven was presented with a prize of £2000 pledged by sponsor, The King of Soho Gin with four runners up each receiving £250.

Marian Keyes, Chair of the Published prize judges, commented: There were two top contenders for this prize. In the end the final choice was made based on the potential of extremely young and witty writer Laura Steven to go forward and continue to make her mark while pushing boundaries for funny women’s fiction.”

The Unpublished category winner Kirsty Eyre was awarded a publishing contract and £5000 advance from HarperFiction. The Unpublished runner-up Abigail Mann (The Lonely Fajita) received a free place on the Creative Writing MA course at the University of Hertfordshire, which was presented by Professor Anne Murphy, Dean of the School of Humanities, University of Hertfordshire.

Jenny Éclair, Chair of the Unpublished prize judges, commented: “There was huge affection from all the judges for Kirsty Eyre’s witty novel set in the world of dairy farming. The narrative voice was as strong as it was instant. This is an inspired and stylish read which was both smart and edgy. We cared about the clever protagonist, the supporting characters and the cows in equal measure.”

The CWIP Prize was launched by actress, author and stand-up Helen Lederer in response to the lack of exposure for female comedy writing, and to celebrate fresh and established talent.

Helen Lederer, founder of the Comedy Women in Print Prize, commented:  

“I’ve lived and breathed CWIP for so many years that the enormity of crowning the winner sat quite heavily. But every judge was committed to finding a winner that reflected what we are here for – to celebrate witty women’s fiction – both unpublished and published. When it came to the wire (and the competition was as varied as it was strong) it was felt the author who was most poised to break through and continue to deliver quality humour should get it. Originality, wit and relatability were also nailed. The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven has a unique voice that is as assured as it is witty – and while it is set in a young person’s world – the judges easily connected to the narrative and humour. In the unpublished category the judges were unanimously impressed with Cow Girl by Kirsty Eyre. The intelligence of the characters was both refreshing and compelling while the wit of the narrative connected the reader throughout. Visibility in women’s wit on the page has changed even since I had the idea for CWIP five years ago.”

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Society of Authors’ Awards 2019

Writers and poets from across generations were celebrating tonight (Monday 17th June) as the winners of the 2019 Society of Authors’ Awards were announced at a ceremony at Southwark Cathedral. Hosted by poet Jackie Kay MBE, with an introduction by the President of the SoA, Philip Pullman, 9 awards were presented to 32 writers with a host of debut names joining established award-winning writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry each sharing a prize fund of £100,000.

This ‘night of riches’, uniquely judged by writers for writers saw 500 guests from across the publishing industry come together as the winners of Betty Trask, McKitterick, Somerset Maugham, ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust awards and the inaugural Paul Torday Memorial Prize (awarded for a first novel by a writer over 60) were announced in addition to the Cholmondeley Awards for outstanding contribution to poetry, the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography, five Travelling Scholarships and the Eric Gregory Awards for a collection of poems by poets under 30. The winners join an illustrious line of previous award winners including Zadie Smith, Seamus Heaney, Helen Dunmore, Hari Kunzru, Carol Ann Duffy and Mark Haddon.

Speaking about the Society of Authors’ Awards, Jackie Kay said: I’m enormously proud and gratified to have been granted this most lovely opportunity of presenting writers with the Society of Authors’ Awards. These awards, I know from personal experience, are potentially life-changing. They bring writers in from the cold. They give writers a huge boost and validation. They tell them that their trials and tribulations have been worth it after all, after the long haul. Writing is a confidence game, and often writers’ confidence is shot to pieces. An award like this can put self-doubt in the cupboard for a while.”

In an evening that celebrated diverse voices and the inclusivity and empathy that comes from gifted storytelling, winners included double Eric Gregory Award winner, poet Sophie Collins (a winner in 2014 and 2019) for Who is Mary Sue? (Faber & Faber), 2019 Women’s Prize longlisted Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott, winner of the 2019 McKitterick Prize for Swan Song (Hutchinson), 70-year old debut author, Anne Youngson who won the inaugural Paul Torday Memorial Prize for Meet Me at the Museum (Doubleday); Manchester-born James Clarke who won the £10,000 Betty Trask Prize for The Litten Path (Salt), a story about the 1980s miners’ strike; Romany writer, Damian Le Bas who won both a Somerset Maugham Award for The Stopping Places (Chatto & Windus) and a Travelling Scholarship; 2019 Rathbones Folio prize-winning poet Raymond Antrobus who also received a Somerset Maugham Award for The Perseverence (Penned in the Margins); Syrian born Dima Alzayat winner of the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award for Once We Were Syrians and Julian Jackson, winner of the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography for A Certain Idea of France: The Life of Charles de Gaulle (Allen Lane).

The judges for each award, including Kate Mosse, Gary Younge, Mark Lawson, Anita Sethi, Vaseem Khan, Susan Hill, Stuart Evers, Irenosen Okojie and Jen Campbell were united in their praise for the “mesmeric, restless, genre-bending, emotionally devastating writing from 32 writers who have taken us from the miners’ strike and travelling communities, to Truman Capote’s mind, each exploring the gamut of human experience from friendship, family and belonging, to what it means to be other.”

Society of Authors

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Comedy Women In Print Prize

The Comedy Women in Print Prize 2019 (CWIP) today announced both the Published and Unpublished award shortlists for the award’s first year. The five authors in the Published category are: Sunday Times bestsellers GAIL HONEYMAN (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine) and GILL SIMS (Why Mummy Swears); joined by hilarious up-and-coming author ASIA MACKAY (Killing It), Young Adult debut writer LAURA STEVEN (The Exact Opposite of Okay); and Singaporean novelist BALLI KAUR JASWAL (Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows). The published novels were praised by judges for, ‘celebrating the range of comedic styles, excellence, quality and above all individuality in witty women authors.’

Shortlisted in the Unpublished category are: screen writer KIRSTY EYRE (Cow Girl), editorial assistant ABIGAIL MANN (The Lonely Fajita), International Development Agency worker HELEN DOYLE (The Ladies’ Guide to Finding Love), country musician LOTTE MULLAN (Love Is Strange), and full-time mum JO LOVETT-TURNER (New Year at The Duck and Grapes). Judges were united in their praise of a shortlist that ‘showcases original, witty, and innovative comedy novel content.’

Themes of unconventional romance, the use of humour to illuminate serious issues and the power of female friendship dominate the shortlists across both categories; while settings range from the covert world of a secret service assassin with a newborn baby, to a queer rom-com set on a dairy farm.

The CWIP Prize was launched by actress, author and stand-up Helen Lederer in response to the lack of exposure for female comedy writing, and as a way of celebrating fresh and established talent.

Helen Lederer, founder of the Comedy Women in Print Prize, says:  

‘The Published category shortlist demonstrates the range of debut and established comedy women writers. While the impact and perception of wit on the page will always be gloriously varied – I was happy to observe a commonality of passion and praise from the judges (without judging myself!). They felt that Gail Honeyman’s original flare and humour triumphed as an excellent and already celebrated narrative in Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, while the observational hit rate of humour in Why Mummy Swears by Gill Simms simply had to be included. Laura Stevens sparky novel The Exact Opposite of Okay – was an empowering and feminist pleasure. Killing It by Asia Mackay is a delightfully transgressive and original novel that tackled themes of guilt and not being good enough with irony; Balli Kaur Jaswal’s Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows is a wittily told and cleverly bold cross-cultural narrative. We got there. CWIP’s first year has at the very least, shone a light on funny female fiction.’

Journalist and author Fanny Blake, a judge for the Unpublished CWIP Prize, says:

‘It was a pleasure to be one of the judges selecting this brilliantly funny shortlist of unpublished writers. In no particular order, Kirsty Eyre’s Cow Girl is an original romcom with strong wittily observed characters. The Lonely Fajita by Abigail Mann is an entertaining cross-generational comedy. In The Ladies Guide to Finding Love, Helen Doyle shows off a gift for sharp funny observations of human behaviour. Who could resist the Dolly Parton impersonator who stars in Lotte Mullan’s quick-witted Love is Strange? And Jo Lovett-Turner celebrates female friendships with all their joys, anxieties and failures in New Year at the Duck and Grapes. These are five new female writers to be celebrating.’

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