Results – Best Novel Opening 2022

Congratulations to the winner of our Best Novel Opening for Children or Young Adults competition 2022

Holly Jessop


The Penny Prophet

Holly’s novel opening, “The Penny Prophet” was judged the winner by Amber Caravéo after entries closed on 22nd August 2022.

About the Author

London-based author Holly Jessop is in her final year of a Master’s degree in Design, and is looking to enter the world of publishing. She has always been an avid reader, and has recently begun to write in the little free time she finds in between studying, although would love to continue this passion further. Holly has been acknowledged in previous short story competitions including a Commendation in the 2022 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing prize.

Our Shortlistees

S.V. McLean with Across The Moonlight Bridge

S.V. McLean’s career has focused on environmental education, working with children of all ages in Kenya and the U.K. Her writing has been longlisted and shortlisted in competitions including Mslexia Children’s & YA Novel Competition, WriteMentor Novel-in-Development Award and Searchlight Awards Best Novel Opening for Children or Young Adults Competition. She has a Master’s in Novel Writing and enjoys pushing the boundaries of reality by writing fantasy and magical realism. She finds inspiration in nature, be it the savannas of Africa or the wilds of Dartmoor where she currently lives.

Taslin Pollock with Disaster Tourist

Taslin is a British-born writer of contemporary, fantasy and mystery thriller, Middle-Grade and Young Adult fiction. Her writing usually centres on a culturally diverse protagonist navigating challenging issues affecting young people today, such as young people as carers, the effects of racism and the risks posed by technological innovations. She has been shortlisted for the 2022 Golden Egg Award. She is an alumni of the HarperCollins Author and Design Academy Autumn 2022 and the 2021 Scottish Book Trust Writing for Children Course. She recently won a place on the 2022-2023 All Stories Mentorship Programme for aspiring Children’s authors from underrepresented backgrounds. Taslin currently resides in Central Scotland, with her husband and two children. Twitter: @taslinp

Jo Baker with Drowning the Light

When she is not constructing fantastical worlds in her little attic room, Jo works as a therapist specialising in the effects of trauma and abuse on women. She draws on her training in her writing, creating dark YA Fantasy exploring themes of love, grief and healing, usually with an LGBTQIA+ focus. A Golden Egg Graduate, Jo won the SCBWI Slushpile challenge in July 2021, was a top ten Finalist in the Voyage YA First Chapters contest, and has been longlisted for both Searchlight and Guppy Publishing’s Open Submission (all for a different story). Downstairs, Jo can often be found playing ‘Star Wars Ninja’ with her small person. And occasionally hiding in a cupboard to eat at least three times more chocolate in one sitting than she allows said small person in an entire day.

Miranda Nugent with Marvin’s Gift

Miranda graduated from Bath Spa WFYP with distinction. Previously a writer for the children’s sections of The Times and The Sunday Times, she now lives on a farm in Devon with a flock of hardy sheep, some very hairy pigs and a lot of fluffy-legged chickens–but no human-sized fairies (as far as she knows). It was always her plan to write for children, but it wasn’t until she met Eva Ibbotson she decided to write middle grade adventure stories with lots of laughs and magic. She likes writing, sheep, miniaturisation, bobble hats and cheese. She doesn’t like ostriches. 

Andrew Stevenson with Railers

Andrew Stevenson writes action-packed tales of adventure and unlikely heroes coming-of-age. A graduate of the flagship course at Curtis Brown Creative, he now lives mainly in Europe and travels while working as a User Experience Writer. His novel-writing combines this understanding of people, their wants and needs, with his background in theatre and film to create heart-felt stories for middle-grade and teen audiences. His main goal is to make reluctant readers pick up a book and get involved! He is currently out on submission with Railers, a story about a cynical teenager rediscovering their imagination in a wrecked future. Next, he has plans for a Scottish-Viking-myth-crossover set on the island of Orkney.

Emily Ould with Southern Belles

Emily Charlotte Ould is a freelance writer and editor based in Cornwall, who studied Creative Writing at Falmouth University before going on to complete a Masters in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa. She is proud to be a founder of PaperBound Magazine, an online publication dedicated to celebrating children’s and young adult literature, and is an enthusiastic lover of country music. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyocharlotte 

Clare Saxby with The Chronicles of Cora Gunn

Clare started out in journalism and now works in film and television as a script editor, screenwriter and producer. She is currently developing two screenplays−a horror film set in wartime Kent and an Icelandic love story−but her first love was books and she has just completed an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck University,  graduating with a distinction. Her prose, for both children and adults, has been longlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize and the Mslexia Children & YA Competition, and shortlisted for publication by the Cranked Anvil Press and WriteMentor Magazine. She lives in the beautiful High Weald of Kent with boys and animals of various sizes and is a keen gardener and photographer.

Catriona Riordan with The Watchers

Catriona Riordan was born in Manchester but decided to chase the sun and now lives in Dubai with her husband and two children. She has been a teacher for more years than she cares to remember and has been creating stories for even longer than that. A runner up in the Emirates Literature Festival First Fiction Competition in 2018, she is now completing her Masters in Creative Writing and has written three novels for teenagers and young adults. She loves all things quirky and knows that there is more than a little magic in the world: you just need to know where to look.

Kathryn Clark with Truth Is Not A Solid Thing

Kathryn lives in Gloucestershire and writes for teenagers and adults. After a varied ‘career’ involving a wallpaper shop, aromatherapy and researching rich people, she now works as a writing mentor and editor. Kathryn has an MA with distinction in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University. Her short fiction has been listed and placed in several contests, and published in anthologies and magazines. In February 2023, her YA novel THINGS I LEARNED WHILE I WAS DEAD placed second in the Imagined Futures Prize and Kathryn was awarded a publishing contract with Faber Children’s. Website: KathrynClarkWriter Twitter: @KClarkwriter

(Please note that this manuscript has been submitted elsewhere under the title: The Other Side Of Normal)