Emily Randall has won the overall Times/Chicken House Award for her novel The Flood Child, which also previously won the Mslexia Novel Competition.
She is joined this year in the annual prize for unpublished children's fiction by Alison Stegert, who has won the IET 150 Award, sponsored by the Institution of Engineering & Technology, for her submission, The Remarkables. The one-off prize was for a manuscript which broadly celebrates science, technology, engineering and maths.
Both winners will receive a £10,000 publishing deal with Chicken House, and the offer of representation from PFD literary agent Lucy Irvine.
Randall's The Flood Child tells the story of Autumn, a 13-year-old who can see the dead. When her father drowns and he is the one ghost that doesn’t appear, she must solve the mystery of his death before his past comes hurtling into her present.
The Remarkables follows young Victorian inventor Winnie, who is unexpectedly expelled from her progressive academy thanks to her father’s business disgrace and disappearance. Winnie is set adrift with nothing but big debts and bigger dreams of World Fair glory when a mysterious agency conscripts her into Her Majesty’s Secret League of Remarkable Young Ladies.
This year’s competition was judged by two separate judging panels, both chaired by Chicken House publisher Barry Cunningham. He was joined by bestselling author Christopher Edge and the IET’s 150th anniversary president, Professor Danielle George, for the IET 150 Award. The Times/Chicken House Award panel consisted of Times arts editor Alex O’Connell, Irvine, previous winner and bestselling author Jasbinder Bilan, rights scout Sophie Clarke, and school librarian and previous director of Round Table Books Layla Hudson.
Commenting on the competition, Cunningham said: "It is always a joy to chair our competition, and this year it really was the toughest decision yet! Our final eight were all worthy winners but, ultimately, Emily and Ali’s tales of island mystery and Victorian invention shone through with their originality and confidence. I’m thrilled to be welcoming them to the Chicken House coop, and to be launching their writing careers."
The competition will reopen later this year. It costs £18 to enter and is open to writers from all over the world, as long as they write in English, are unagented and have not had a children’s book published before.