Saskia Leach of Kate Nash Literary Agency set the July 2023 Slush Pile Challenge.


Saskia wanted to see “the first chapter of a contemporary YA thriller or YA romance”. The story could have been of any theme and she was particularly interested in hearing from underrepresented perspectives.

Entrants did NOT need to have completed the manuscript before submitting their entry.

We received 28 entries from members across the British Isles and Europe for this competition. Saskia read all of the submissions. This is what Saskia told us when announcing the results:

“Thank you so much to everyone who entered SCBWI’s YA Slush Pile Challenge this month. It was an honour and a pleasure to read through all of the entries and see the sheer imagination that went into each and every one of them.

Without further ado, my winner is …

As Dreams Are Made by Elizabeth Fowler.

This YA thriller has a wonderful speculative twist and the author’s conversational tone hooked me from the very first sentence. As Dreams Are Made starts in the moment where everything changed for Ariel and I was particularly impressed with the pacing and the author’s world building ability, which never felt expositional. The last sentence is particularly memorable (and ominous!) and certainly succeeds in enticing me to read on.

I would also like to award 2nd and 3rd place accolades to …

Disaster Tourist (2nd Place) by Taslin Pollock


My Name Is (3rd Place) by Jacki Moore.

Disaster Tourist has a unique, standout concept and was an enjoyable and immersive read, while My Name Is conveyed a brilliant sense of panic as Milly wakes up to a sickeningly terrifying predicament.

A huge congratulations to the winners and to everybody who entered! Your innovative and captivating first chapters were a joy to read.”

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

Well done to Taslin Pollock for coming second and to Jacki Moore for coming third.

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


Saskia joined the Kate Nash Literary Agency in 2021 and is building a list in commercial adult, YA and children's fiction. She is also Secretary of the AAA Bridge Committee, a sub-committee of the Association of Authors' Agents who support early career literary agents.

She loves musical theatre, both as a performer and audience member, and is a lifelong supporter of Brighton and Hove Albion FC.

Saskia enjoys reading a wide range of genres and is fascinated by stories written from multiple perspectives. She also loves books which feature complex and dynamic characters.

Twitter: @saskialeach_ Instagram: @saskia.reads

*Header image: in-house collaboration between Ell Rose and Tita Berredo


Elaine Cline has been a SCBWI member for over eight 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. Elaine is a member of the Words & Pictures editorial team, managing The Slush Pile Challenge for writers. Connect with Elaine on Twitter: @elaineccline


Ell Rose is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures. Contact them at

Tita Berredo is the Illustrator Coordinator of SCBWI British Isles and the Art Director of Words & Pictures. Contact her at:


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