The Skull in the Wood shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize!

Get ready to dig into a big fat slice of cake this week, as we celebrate with Sandra Greaves, author of the chilling contemporary ghost story The Skull in the Wood, which has been shortlisted for the Waterstone's Children’s Book Prize 2014. 

We first celebrated Sandra's book launch in September. And we asked her to tell us a little more about her journey to publication....

Sandra tells us: "The Skull in the Wood would probably have never come to life if I hadn’t slipped on black ice back in 2010 and broken my ankle in three places. Suddenly I couldn’t do anything except watch daytime TV or write, and thankfully I chose the writing option. Grim though the accident was, I’m very grateful. My first draft emerged very fast and I was accepted onto the Apprenticeships in Fiction mentoring programme for a year where my mentor, the author Catherine Johnson, helped me knock out the bad bits and hone the good bits. Just when I’d got the novel as far as I could, Undiscovered Voices asked for submissions – and I ended up one of the winners of UV 2012. The fantastic exposure from UV netted me an agent (Anna Power from Johnson & Alcock) and then a publisher – Chicken House. The Skull in the Wood finally came out in September last year and was shortlisted for Shrewsbury Bookfest. And now, unbelievably, it’s been nominated for the Waterstone's Children’s Book Prize as well – to be judged on 3 April. Two other SCBWI writers are also shortlisted – Piers Torday and Gemma Merino. No matter what the outcome is, it feels brilliant. But now I really do have to get on with book number two…."

“The wild moor is the perfect place for this atmospheric tale. Sandra Greaves builds the tension masterfully, winding in the children’s anger with each other and with the world, hints at family enmity, hints at the old tales of the land on which they’re living, building the emotions – and the creep factor – into an edge-of-the-seat tale. Can the two children outrun this ancient hunt? Can they outrun their own hurt? Can they step back into Old Scratch Woods, where the Gabbleratchet resides, and bury the enmity for good?” Isabel Popple, Waterstone's review 

The Skull in the Wood is published by Chicken House for 10+ readers and is Sandra’s first novel. Born in Edinburgh and now living in Devon, she keeps several badly-behaved chickens on a smallholding midway between the moor and the sea. 

So let's wish Sandra the best of luck for April. You can catch up with her on her website, or her Facebook page.

Tania Tay is an ex-advertising copywriter and has been published in Sable LitMag. She is currently writing a YA romantic thriller, is a member of The Golden Egg Academy and is on the editorial team at Words & Pictures.


  1. Congratulations Sandra on super speedy (if slippery at the start) journey to success!

  2. Congrats from me too, Sandra. Loved the book so much I read it in just a couple of evenings. Evocative and spooky - it deserves first prize!


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