The inaugural Primadonna Festival has revealed the judging panel for its literary prize will include author Joanne Harris, Agent of the Year Cathryn Summerhayes and HQ executive publisher Lisa Milton.
Joining them on the panel will be Lemn Sissay, official poet of the 2012 London Olympics as well as novelist Neil Hegarty alongside travel writer and journalist Monisha Rajesh.
The Primadonna Festival in Suffolk, championing women’s writing, will take place from 30th August to 1st September and the accompanying prize is open to unpublishing and unrepresented writers of all genders. Organisers say it is the first prize in which all entries are fully anonymised, and are judged without regard to grammar or spelling.
Judges Summerhayes, Milton and Rajesh also helped to launch and organise the festival itself. Together with Harris, Sissay and Hegarty, the panelists will choose a winner from a shortlist of five texts (a mix of fiction and non-fiction, the ratio of which will be determined solely by the quality of the writing), selected by a group of editors from one of the UK’s largest publishing houses. These editors will have chosen from a longlist put forward by the Primadonna team, who are judging first round entries.
The five shortlisted writers will be announced on the Primadonna Festival website on 25th July and will be invited to present their work as part of a special event at the inaugural Primadonna Festival which takes place between 30 August and 1 September 2019 in Pettaugh, Suffolk.
The overall winner will be offered £500 and the offer of representation by Summerhayes at Curtis Brown, who was crowned British Book Awards Agent of the Year 2019 in May.
Summerhayes said: “My true passion as a literary agent is for uniqueness, be that in the way an author writes or the subject he or she is writing about. I am passionate about great storytelling, beautiful books, inspiring voices. My relationships with each of my authors is very important and I pride myself of being in it for the long-game, nurturing books through to publication and beyond and building writing careers long-term. The Curtis Brown team’s passion for the written word and printed pages mirrors my own.
"My taste is best described as literary but I have some wonderfully commercial authors whose voices and plots transcend the everyday. I am looking for something special in everything I read – and I am constantly surprised by what enchants me.”
The longlist will be announced on Primadonna’s website on Wednesday 10th July.