It's Party Time for the Undiscovered Voices!

The launch of another volume of Undiscovered Voices is always a moment for great celebration. Twelve writers and five artists – all unagented and unpublished - find their work suddenly thrust upon the publishing world, and the publishing world responds with eager interest.

The launch party itself has become a hotly anticipated event, made even more special because it only happens every two years.

The launch party has a dual purpose:

A) Celebrating the end of a long journey for everyone involved in the competition - from the opening of submissions in July 2013 to the publication of the anthology in January 2014

B) Marking the beginning of a new journey for all those freshly-discovered voices, as they come face-to-face with the agents and editors who will take them to publication and beyond

The Undiscovered Voices team with the 2014 finalists
(All photos by Candy Gourlay)
This year’s launch took place in London on Wednesday 26th February. As well as this year’s finalists, the competition organisers, judges and former winners were in attendance, along with scores of those all-important agents and editors. The wine and conversation flowed, contacts were made and friendships were formed.

SCBWI British Isles Regional Adviser Natascha Biebow was the first to speak, and it was her very pleasant job to congratulate Undiscovered Voices founders Sara Grant and Sara O’Connor for their amazing work on the competition and anthology since 2008.

Natascha Biebow with Sara O'Connor and Sara Grant

Chris Snowden
Working Partners Managing Director Chris Snowden then took the stage, revealing that the Saras had actually first approached him with the idea in 2006, when they were both at Working Partners. Chris seemed a little put out that they have both subsequently left the company for bigger things! (Sara Grant as a full-time author and Sara O’Connor as Editorial Director at Hot Key Books). Chris’s talk was full of memorable soundbites, such as the phrase “Internet Schminternet”, which he used to describe the current lack of potential for online publishing of children’s titles. Chris stressed the need for “filtering” of content to maintain quality, and cited Undiscovered Voices as a prime example of where this process succeeds.

Chris Riddell
Chris Riddell – the honorary chair for the 2014 anthology – was last to speak (but definitely not least). He started by saying that he wasn’t sure what an honorary chair actually did, then launched into the very funny story of his early career as an illustrator. Chris singled out the importance of the SCBWI as a community where creative people can come together to share their ideas and find their voices. He also revealed that the Saras had made him a mug with one of his Undiscovered Voices illustrations on the side, a gift he described as his “Scooby Doo mug”.

After the speeches, the party concluded with the real business of the evening – networking! Let’s hope for some exciting news from those 2014 winners in the coming months, and I’m sure we’ll be back here again in two years for Undiscovered Voices 2016.

How W&P Team Members Experienced the Party:

Katrina Charman
It's difficult to put the whole Undiscovered Voices launch party experience into words. From the moment I arrived, I was whisked away to have photos taken with my fellow finalists, the amazing Chris Riddell and the UV team. Then with barely a chance to grab a drink, the industry guests began to arrive and so began a solid five hours of chatting, networking, and hobnobbing with all of these amazing people from the publishing industry who had not only read the beginning of my book, but wanted to read more, which was a very surreal experience. By the end of the evening I could barely speak!

The speeches were incredibly inspiring, and Chris Riddell was absolutely hilarious when he described how he discovered his own voice. It was a night that I will remember for the rest of my life, for so many wonderful reasons, and I have to thank Sara O'Connor, Sara Grant, SCBWI-BI and everyone involved in UV, for this life-changing opportunity.

Katrina Charman is one of this year’s Undiscovered Voices writing finalists, with her YA sci-fi fantasy Phoenix.

Nick Cross
It’s probably a good job that the Undiscovered Voices launch party is only once every two years, because I’m not sure my hearing could recover otherwise. No room seems big enough to contain the amount of people who turn up, no ceiling high enough to dampen the enormous volume of noise they generate! It’s the publishing equivalent of sensory overload - an exhilarating, bewildering, joyous occasion.

Although I described myself as “old news” to one agent, I did make some useful new contacts and caught up with people I hadn’t seen in ages. Perhaps there’s even an element of nostalgia to it all, four years on from my own baptism of fire. But I didn’t feel bitter or greatly envy those writers who were fresh out of the gate, because they will tell very different stories and go on very different journeys to me. I’ve learnt so much about writing and (more importantly myself) in the four years since I gained a place in Undiscovered Voices – it’s literally changed my life.

Nick Cross was featured in the Undiscovered Voices 2010 anthology with his zombie horror comedy Back from the Dead.


  1. Wow! What a full room!
    Yep looking forward to all the good news that's surely on its way!

  2. Debra Bertulis6 March 2014 at 10:08

    Inspiring to read about the winners, what an opportunity! Am excited to hear what happens next as inevitably many will get snapped up. As someone who did not get onto the list, well done you clever bunch! Would love to get a copy of UV 2014 if someone could tell me how please!


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