SLUSH PILE CHALLENGE - April 2019 Results

Rachel Mann of Jo Unwin Literary Agency (JULA) set April's challenge.

Rachel wanted "to see a synopsis and up to 2000 words of a middle grade story with an immediately compelling, sparky and original voice". She was especially on the look-out for funny at the time of setting the challenge, so if that was you then all the better - but the voice was the thing, and she was not averse to be a bit of grit, either. The manuscript had to be complete at the point of entry.

Rachel Mann 

We received forty-one entries from members across the British Isles and Europe for this competition. Rachel read all of the submissions. This is what Rachel told us when announcing the results:

It was a tough one, but I chose The Good Child Serum by Harriet Worrell for totally nailing the brief – James’s cheeky voice leapt off the page from the opening lines, and it’s clearly a really funny and well plotted story, too. There’s an immediate sense of place, a well-drawn cast of characters, and a wonderfully jaunty sense of mystery – I think there’d be a clear place for this in the children’s book market and I’d love to read more!

Special mentions to:

Atlas of the Darkside by Katherine Latham

Snowballs from Hell by Sally Poyton

Shadow Child by Cate Holness

Through the Gap by Lizzie Strong

"… for all having both strong voices and great concepts, too.”

Congratulations to Harriet Worrell from all of us at Words & Pictures. We hope you are well on your way towards getting your story published.

Well done to Katherine Latham, Sally Poyton, Cate Holness and Lizzie Strong for gaining a special mention.

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

Rachel Mann spent nine years commissioning and editing books for young people at major publishing houses and was most recently global publishing director for the Roald Dahl Story Company. At Jo Unwin Literary Agency, Rachel is now actively growing a list of writers in fiction and non-fiction, with a particular focus on children’s and YA. 

She has a tendency towards the darkly funny – Shirley Jackson and Angela Carter are great examples of the kind of adult writing she loves. Tove Jansson, Benjamin Zephaniah, and David Almond are just some of her heroes in children’s. 

In all cases, Rachel wants compelling voices, unpatronising writing, and complex characters. International settings and traditions, unconventional narratives and social commentary will always get her attention, and she is particularly interested in writers from underrepresented backgrounds.

At the moment, Rachel is very much on the look-out for funny chapter books and middle-grade. She's also looking for bold and emotionally engaging non-fiction across both adults’ and children’s, as well as poetry.
Please note that Rachel doesn’t currently represent picture books.

Elaine Cline has been a SCBWI member for over five years and loves to write picture books, junior fiction and middle-grade. She loves writing about food. She lives by the sea and has one soft and silly cat. Elaine is a member of the Words & Pictures' editorial team, managing The Slush Pile Challenge for writers.

Connect with Elaine on Twitter: @elaineclineuk

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