Lawyer Laurel Remington has won this year’s Times Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition for unpublished writers.
Remington took the prize, winning a royalty advance of £10,000 and a contract with Chicken House, for her book The Secret Cooking Club for Girls.
The story is aimed at readers aged 8-12 and is about a girl who discovers an escape from the embarrassing revelations of her 'blogger-mum' through baking.
Deputy m.d. Rachel Hickman said the judges unanimously chose Remington’s story as the winner because it was the “freshest and most enjoyable of the entries” and also very commercial.
“Author Sophia McKenzie especially loved it and felt that readers would identify with the main character,” she said. “Literary scout and author Natatsha Farrant, 'really liked it' while wanting more mistakes to be made by the protagonist, and Waterstones' Melissa Cox especially praised the food descriptions.”
The Secret Cooking Club will be published in 2016 and for the first time Chicken House will film working with Remington to get her book ready for publication.
“It sometimes comes as a shock - a good shock - to the winners of the competition as to the amount of editorial and creative energy that we invest. It's actually quite hard for the judges used to polished books to remember that these manuscripts are often quite rough diamonds,” said Hickman.
Remington, who beat four other shortlisted authors, is an environmental lawyer. Originally from California, she now lives in Surrey and has three daughters.