Sunday, May 01, 2016

Times Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition

International writers contribute to highest number of entries ever in children’s books most valuable competition
High school teachers over 3,000 miles apart are included in the shortlist for the ninth annual Times Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition, announced today, Friday 29th April, while other shortlisted authors have backgrounds in software design, bookselling, and the law. One of the writers will win a £10,000 publishing contract with Chicken House and see their book on sale in 2017. The competition received its highest ever number of entries, with over 1,000 aspiring writers submitting full length novels for consideration by a judging panel that included Justine Roberts, CEO and founder of website Mumsnet, and Barry Cunningham, the publisher who first signed JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
Authors Janine Barnett-Phillips and Julie Mee both teach in high schools – Barnett-Phillips in Cardiff and Mee in Ontario, Canada. Mee is the only non-British writer on the shortlist, although other entries came from as far afield as the USA, Vietnam, New Zealand and India. The other shortlisted writers are Stafford-based software designer Jamie Smith, former solicitor Tracy Darnton from Bath, and Nicki Thornton who, with her husband, runs the acclaimed independent bookshop Mostly Books in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.
The five-strong shortlist for 2016 features an eclectic selection of potential bestsellers aimed at children of all ages. The 2016 shortlist is (alphabetical by title):
  • Asterix Clementine by Janine Barnett-Phillips. A contemporary novel for young adults featuring a gritty love story between two teens with an unexpected twist.
  • The Firefly Cage by Nicki Thornton. Kitchen boy Seth must solve a murder at a magicians’ convention in order to prove his innocence in this gripping murder mystery aimed at middle-grade readers.
  • Frostsliver by Jamie Smith. This wintry fantasy for readers aged 12+ tells the story of one girl’s extraordinary struggle for survival when caught in an avalanche atop a sentient glacier.
  • Milo and Operation Stepdad by Tracy Darnton. A funny and heart-warming story for readers aged 7+ that follows Milo’s heart-warming quest to find a partner for his single mum.
  • Project Cat’s Away by Julie Mee. Junior CIA agent Emma struggles to maintain her work-life balance when a friend discovers her secret in this hilarious and action-packed story for middle-grade readers.
Barry Cunningham, Founder and Managing Director of Chicken House, said: “This year’s Times Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition brought an ever wider selection of diverse subjects from an ever broader geographical range of eager novelists. Our shortlist explores a broad range of themes including troubled love, spies, magicians, a sentient glacier, and a stepdad suitability questionnaire. In this fantastic shortlist, we celebrate the trials, tribulations and enjoyment of being young in a confused and confusing world.”
The shortlist will now be read by the judges who also include 16 year old Orli Vogt-Vincent, winner of a competition to find a Young Judge to join the panel. The winner will be announced on 17th June, 2016, and published by Chicken House in 2017.

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