SLUSH PILE CHALLENGE October 2019 Results

Chloe SeagerLiterary Agent (Children's and YA) of Madeleine Milburn, Literary, TV and film agency.

Chloe wanted to see the first chapter, synopsis and pitch of a YA romantic comedy. 

Chloe Seager

This is what Chloe told us when announcing the results:

“First of all, Id like to thank everyone who entered. I read all of them carefully but it’s still very possible I’ve passed on some gems in there, or that another agent may have chosen differently, so please don’t be disheartened if I don’t mention yours. Especially as I was choosing based on what for me - personally - really fulfilled the brief ‘rom-com.’ It may be that for me your entry leant more towards ‘com’ or ‘rom’ and that doesn’t mean it’s not a great idea, only not quite what I was on the hunt for.

What I was looking for was something that felt romantic and funny in equal measure, with characters that came to life, entertained me, and whose relationship I was really rooting for.

So…drum roll please…my winner is Foes and Cons by Georgia Bowers. It’s about a girl - Cece - and a boy - Charlie - who used to be best friends and fellow mega fans of the show Vampire Falls. Only now Charlie is part of the ‘popular’ crowd and makes fun of Cece. When Charlie shows up at the Vampire Falls convention, supposedly to accompany his little sister, Cece is outraged by his presence (he’s a traitor, after all). All her old feelings bubble up to the surface, and in the end Cece has to face the fact part of the reason she’s so angry is that she still cares about Charlie…and not just as a friend.

What I loved about the ‘com’ aspect of this was the strong voice - Cece’s dry humour and tendency to say the wrong thing / fall into mishaps was greatly entertaining.

What I loved about the ‘rom’ aspect of this manuscript was the love/hate relationship, with lots of sparky banter, which is always fun to read. But what I really connected with was the deep friendship at the core of the romance. Cece and Charlie are two people who know each other incredibly well and care about each other deeply, only somewhere along the way they’ve taken a wrong turn and misunderstood each other. I really wanted to watch them find their way back to one another!

I so enjoyed the gap between what Cece knows and what the reader knows. We can all see that Cece still has feelings for Charlie, even if she can’t, and it’s that perfect ingredient every rom-com needs to have us all screaming at the main character to realise her true feelings… And being a fangirl myself, I adored the convention setting and the use of fandom as the thing that brought them back together.

Amongst the entries there were a lot of great settings, and unlikely throwing together of characters, that made for brilliant rom-coms. Honourable mention goes to Stargazy by Helen Simmons, for a dreamy, romantic setting, classic country-meets-town hilarity and unlikely-pair-have-more-in-common-than-they-think romance.”

Congratulations to Georgia Bowers from all of us at Words & Pictures. We hope you are well on your way towards getting your writing published.

Well done to Helen Simmons for gaining an honourable mention.

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

Chloe began her career at Titan Books where she developed an interest in sci-fi/fantasy, and it was working with V.E. Schwab that made her realise her true passion was in YA and children’s. She joined Northbank Talent in 2015 where she built a children’s and YA list from scratch, selling rights in the UK and internationally. Whilst there she worked with Carnegie-nominated author Emily Critchley, the children’s tie-in titles of Rachel Wells’ bestselling Alfie series, and discovered many debut authors including Anna Fargher, Ben Oliver and Inky Willis. In 2019 Chloe joined the team at Madeleine Milburn Literacy Agency.  

Chloe is also a writer. She penned the Emma Nash books, a YA series published with HQ, and is currently collaborating on a new middle-grade series. She runs #bookclubYA, the bi-monthly sister event to #drinkYA, and co-hosts YaOughta!, a podcast about UK YA books.

The Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency is a dedicated, passionate and successful literary agency based in the heart of Mayfair, London. With a fierce reputation for launching authors’ careers, we are a literary agency always looking for new writers for whom we will negotiate significant deals in the UK, US and foreign markets. We have close ties with publishers around the world, and work directly or in partnership with film agents in London and LA, to option Film & TV rights to leading production companies and film studios.

We work with authors across all genres, and have had notable successes in upmarket fiction including crime, book club and psychological suspense. We also handle children’s books, teen, young adult, New Adult and cross-over fiction, as well as exciting new non-fiction authors with a focus on narrative non-fiction, history, self-help, memoir and biography.

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 a dog and a 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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