Jo Williamson of Antony Harwood Ltd set the July 2020 Slush Pile Challenge.

Jo Williamson

Jo wanted to see a synopsis and first chapter of something which would make her cackle with laughter and snort out her cup of tea. Situational/observational humour, dark humour, slapstick comedy, the surreal, the odd-ball … anything that would give her a big, fat belly laugh! She was looking for books aimed at 5-7, 7-9, 8-12 or YA but not picture books at this time.

We received 53 entries from members across the British Isles and Europe for this competition. Jo read all of the submissions. This is what Jo told us when announcing the results:

“Hello all you lovely Scoobie folk,

Can I say how much I enjoyed taking part in this challenge so thank you for inviting me! It was very tough to whittle it down to a short list and even tougher to pick a winner. I was using the criteria of what made me laugh out loud and some of the entries, as fantastic as they were, didn’t quite fit this brief in my mind. So, please don’t be disappointed if you don’t get a mention – on another day, with another brief and a different agent, things would be different.

Honourable mentions go to

SPOKEY AND THE FANTASTIC FOOD FIGHT by Louisa MacDougall – I liked the unusual concept of dragons and princesses being turned on its head and thought the writing was fluent and engaging.

THE ALPACA KIDNAPPER by Hazel Knox – for its fantastic title and the fact it sounds a lot of fun.

My runner up is

DIARY OF EZRA VILL. A NOT-SO-SUPER VILLAIN by Kate Thompson – The first person POV worked really well here lending the story immediacy and a dynamic start. Immediate, early tension was created with the threat of Ezra being expelled from Villain school and sent to Henchmen school. I liked the concept of a Villain school and think there is lots of scope for the author to have a lot of fun with Ezra in this setting.

And my winner is …

THE CHRONICLES OF CHARLIE H. by David Barker – This one really stood out to me because Charlie is such a well-rounded character with a really strong voice from the get go. There was a nice domestic set up with the prefect older sister, school struggles and parents who don’t quite understand, juxtaposed with the more extraordinary story of mind control, clever technology and attempts to take over the country. I think this one has huge potential!”

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

Well done to Kate Thompson for being ranked as a runner up.

Well done to Louisa MacDougall and Hazel Knox 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.

Jo Williamson represents across all ages in children’s publishing from picture books to YA. She is particularly keen on classic Middle Grade adventures, thought-provoking YA and books that reflect our diverse society. Above all, anything with characters whose voices and stories linger long after the book is finished.

The Antony Harwood Ltd literary agency was set up in London in 2000 by Antony Harwood and James Macdonald Lockhart and moved to Oxford in 2003. Jo joined the agency in 2008 to build the children’s side having spent the previous 13 years working in children’s books PR at DK, HarperCollins and Orion. She represents across all genres of children’s books and is always on the hunt for exciting new talent. 

Elaine Cline has been a SCBWI member for over six years and loves to write picture books, chapter books 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: @elaineccline

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