Our creative writing competition will be judged by a young person from the charity and writing industry experts

 

16-25 category judges

Alexandra

Alexandra was supported by us through some tough times during which she struggled with her mental health.

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Alexandra now hopes to publish a book telling her story.

Alexandra says: ‘Growing up can be really difficult especially with mental health challenges. Writing a story can help you face problems you didn't know you had. I'm really looking forward to judging the competition! I hope it helps to raise awareness of these issues and improve support for older teenagers both before and after they turn 18.


Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Harriet Reuter Hapgood profile

Harriet is a young adult author and a freelance journalist who has worked with Marie Claire, ELLE and InStyle. 'It’s a thrill to have the chance to judge this exciting competition while supporting The Children’s Society’s important campaign by raising awareness of some of the challenges faced by older children.’ 

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Her first novel, The Square Root of Summer, was inspired by her German mathematician grandfather and her lifelong obsession with young adult romance, which includes an MA thesis on Dawson's Creek from London College of Fashion and a dissertation on romantic comedies at Newcastle University. She lives in Brighton where she is currently working on her second novel.

Harriet says: ‘I love writing about and for young adults so this is a fantastic opportunity for me to see how others think about these awkward teenage years. I’m looking for writers who create an authentic account of life at this age. I want see the highs and the lows as teenagers deal with everything from friendship, romance and exams to family arguments and partying. How do they cope when life doesn’t go to plan? Who can they turn to?'

Photo courtesy of Harriet Reuter Hapgood, copyright Isabelle O'Carroll

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Julia Churchill

Julia Churchill profile

Julia represents some fabulous writers, but she’s always on the lookout for new writing talent.

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Julia joined A.M.Heath in 2013 to run the children’s department after four years building up the UK side of the Greenhouse Literary Agency, and six years at the Darley Anderson Agency where she started the children’s book side of the list. She looks for debut and established authors with storytelling magic, from picture book texts right up to young adult fiction.
 
Julia says: ‘I’m lucky to read books about young people’s experiences daily, so I’ll be looking for something really special that stands out from the crowd and grabs my attention. This competition is such a wonderful opportunity to have your writing seen by experts. I’d encourage any writer interested to take this chance: write it, edit it and polish it, then put your best foot forward!

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Lydia Silver

Lydia Silver

Lydia has recently joined Darley Anderson and is looking to build the children’s list. 'I’m so pleased to support this valuable campaign by judging this brilliant competition and offering mentoring to a promising young writer.'

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She loves middle grade and young adult fiction and is particularly looking for magical middle grade adventures, funny contemporary stories and young adult novels with an unusual voice. She loves working editorially with writers and is always on the lookout for new talent. Before joining Darley Anderson, Lydia worked in the editorial team at a children’s publishers, where she worked across a large range of children’s books and acquired several titles. She has a BA in English and French from the University of Sheffield, which means that she is constantly talking about books in two languages.
 
Lydia says: 'I’m looking forward to reading some brilliant stories and shining a light on a new young talent. This is an exciting chance for us to discover some incredible, passionate writers who are just starting out and give them a steer in the right direction. Hopefully it will be a stepping stone to a lifetime of writing.

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26+ category judges

Alice O'Keeffe

Alice O'Keeffe

Alice has been the books editor of The Bookseller, the UK’s trade magazine for the publishing industry, since 2008.

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There, Alice interviews authors for the weekly author profile slot and writes the monthly new fiction round-up. She is also the Chair of the ‘Books of the Year’ judging panels for the British Book Awards aka the Nibbies. Alice joined The Bookseller from Amazon.co.uk where she was books account manager.
 
Alice says: ‘My job involves interviewing authors, writing about the best new fiction and a lot of reading across all genres. I’m looking forward to seeing how entrants to the competition respond to the challenge of writing about older teenagers. Your story might be a romance, a mystery, a comedy, a coming of age tale or whatever you choose. By taking part, you will be helping to show why we all need to pay more attention to the awkward age at the heart of this campaign.
 

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Emma Healey

Emma Healey profile

Elizabeth is Missing, Emma's first novel, was a Sunday Times Bestseller, won the Costa First Novel Award 2014 and was shortlisted for the National Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. Her second novel, Whistle in the Dark, is out now.

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Emma Healey, a former bookseller, grew up in London where she went to art college and completed her first degree in bookbinding. She then worked for two libraries, two bookshops, two art galleries and two universities, and was busily pursuing a career in the art world before writing overtook everything.
 
She moved to Norwich in 2010 to study for the MA in Creative Writing at UEA and never moved back again. 
Emma says: 'It’s great to have a campaign to raise awareness of the need for young people to get more support to deal with the kind of challenges they can face. It’s really important to talk about these things and to write about them, and I would encourage anyone who has experience of what life can be like at this age to enter this competition. You can draw upon your own experiences if you want to but the most important thing for me is that it interests readers and surprises them.’ 
Photo credit: Emily Gray

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Jemima Forrester

Jemima Forrester profile

Jemima joined David Higham in September 2016 having previously been senior commissioning editor at Orion Publishing Group. 'I’m thrilled we can play a part in this campaign by helping the public to learn about the feelings, challenges and experiences of young people at this awkward age.'

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Jemima looks for commercial and upmarket fiction, including crime and thrillers, psychological suspense, accessible literary fiction, women’s fiction and speculative/high-concept novels. Jemima loves distinctive narrative voices, well-paced, intriguing plots and characters that leap off the page. Her favourite books include Elizabeth is Missing, Disclaimer, Life After Life, The Night Circus, Me Before You and anything by Jo Nesbø, Margaret Atwood or Curtis Sittenfeld. In non-fiction, she looks for innovative cookery, popular-culture and lifestyle projects, unique personal stories and humour.
 
Jemima says: 'A piece of fiction is as unique as the person who pens it – that’s why I’m looking forward to seeing a range of different perspectives on this theme. Writers can take inspiration from their own childhood memories and from their adult life experiences. I hope that by offering exclusive feedback to an aspiring writer, we can accelerate their journey on the exciting path to success.

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