Results - 3rd Slush Pile Challenge October 2013

This challenge was set by Mara Bergman of Walker Books. 

The winner of this challenge is Loretta Flockhart for the first chapter of her book titled Hungry Ghosts. Congratulations Loretta!

Mara Bergman


The first chapter of a junior, teen or YA novel; no dystopian, fantasy, vampires or zombies.  Please keep the length of a chapter to less than 2000 words.

We sent 15 anonymous entries to Mara Bergman, chosen randomly. We asked Mara to tell us why she chose Loretta's first chapter from Hungry Ghosts as the winning entry.

I've thoroughly enjoyed reading the entries for the SlushPile Challenge. Picking a winner was far more difficult than I had thought it would be, but after reading through the entries I soon found that several stood out above the others. I reread them a number of times before deciding the winning entry. Hungry Ghosts.

Susie, the main character, is an immediately likeable, spunky young girl. 

She comes home from school one day looking for her mother, Grandpa Si and Grandma Si to tell them her good news. When she can't find them she looks in one last place: the room where fragile things are hidden, where, Grandma had once told her, the Hungry Ghosts live. 

The first chapter in this story about a close-knit Chinese family (Susie is half Chinese, half English) is clearly written and full of character and warmth. The element of the Hungry Ghosts adds a wonderful sense of otherness, and of mystery - 

I'm intrigued by them and want to know more, especially what role they will play later on. 

All the characters are well drawn and I found reading Hungry Ghosts hugely enjoyable - the best test of a good story! 

Loretta will be meeting Mara Bergman for a discussion. We will be posting about Loretta's experience of participating in and winning this challenge in her own words soon.

Chitra has published over 20 books in Singapore, UK, USA and India. She loves writing picture books, folktales and is also working on fiction for 7+ with a lead character brightly named Aurora. Chitra is a member of the Words & Pictures' editorial team, managing The Slush Pile Challenge.

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