SLUSH PILE CHALLENGE January 2018 Results

Thérèse Coen, Rights Director and Agent at Hardman and Swainson set the following challenge:

"I'd like to see a one-line pitch, blurb and first chapter of a middle grade fantasy or sci-fi adventure with 

either friendship or family at its heart."


Image result for photos of therese coen
Thérèse Coen

We received fifty-six entries from members across British Isles and Europe for this competition.
Thérèse agreed to read all of the submissions. This is what the agent told us when announcing the results:

“Thank you everyone who submitted their entries into January’s slush pile challenge, I had a huge amount of fun reading all the submissions, and I found the standard of writing and stories very high indeed!

In the end, I struggled so much to decide, that I’m chickening out and picking two winners:
THE GHOST PARTY by Penny Wilcox and BLUE by Alex Gibson. I am really looking forward to discussing both titles with their authors!

I thought The Ghost Party was such a fun take on the haunted house and ghost family concept, and loved the clear, crisp and energetic writing. The short first chapter really seems to set the stage for a terrifically fun story.

Blue had captivating writing, and a quirky sense of humour which really resonated with me as well as a smart, audacious protagonist with a great mind of his own, a very original setting and intriguing plot.

I really struggled to whittle down my shortlist, and there were several super strong titles in there, all very different, which I think all deserve a really high mention:

A Chain of Wishes by Kate Rosevear: Very intriguing, fresh and creative concept and a lovely voice, I really want to know what happens next!

The Superpower Switch Off by Lindsay Littleson: A very original and humorous inverse superhero plot.

House of Clocks by Amelia Thorne: Gripping opening and unusual setting, has created intrigue beautifully.

The Firestone of Avisriel by Alison Padley-Woods: Superb and very compelling writing – who doesn’t love a story about birds?

All six of these entries were very original – either they were highly original plot ideas, or were really fun, new twists on more traditional concepts. I think all these authors should feel hugely encouraged to keep writing their stories!

I'd just like to say a big congratulations to all the writers who entered this competition, as I said there were plenty of good quality entries which made it very hard to choose. It's been a privilege to take part in the challenge, thank you so much for letting me set a Slush Pile Challenge (am I allowed to do more?!) and I wish you all the very best of luck with your writing.”

Congratulations to Penny Wilcox and Alex Gibson from all of us at Words & Pictures. We hope they are well on their way towards getting their stories published.

Well done to the four writers for getting a special mention, Kate Rosevear, Lindsay Littleson, Amelia Thorne and Alison Padley-Woods.

Thanks to everyone who entered. Keep writing and we hope you will be encouraged to try your hand at appropriate competitions.

Thérèse Coen is Rights Director and Agent at Hardman and Swainson. She has been building her own list of authors alongside selling translation rights since early 2016, which is something she is very excited to be continuing to do at Hardman & Swainson. She has hugely enjoyed this other side of publishing, and working from authors right from the book’s conception, while also experiencing the thrill of selling her own authors’ works in the UK and US as well as in translation to publishers across the globe. She thinks it’s the perfect job!

Founded in 2012, Hardman & Swainson is a dynamic London-based literary agency with a diverse range of clients. The agency prides itself on providing an excellent service to our authors, working closely with them at all stages of their careers.  They have an international focus and make it a priority to sell clients’ work in as many territories as possible. The agency represents quality writing of all kinds and welcomes submissions and queries from new and established writers. They are a member of the Association of Authors’ Agents.

Elaine Cline has been a SCBWI member for over five years and loves to write picture books, junior fiction and middle-grade. She lives by the sea and has two soft and silly cats.

Elaine is a member of the Words & Pictures' editorial team, managing The Slush Pile Challenge for writers.

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