Sylvia Carr Clebsch has won Myriad's First Drafts Competition for unpublished writers for her novel-in-progress set in Grozny in the 1990s.
Safe is the story of two teenagers fleeing the Russian invasion. Their journey to find their father, an intelligence agent, takes them through the battlefields of Chechnya and into the refugee camps of neighbouring Ingushetia. The judges described Safe as "a moving and compelling spy novel that demonstrates an accomplished grasp of the genre and heralds an exciting new voice".
Now in its eighth year, the competition recognises promising work-in-progress and is open to writers who have not yet published a collection of stories or novel. This year the competition was judged by writer and broadcaster Margaret Busby OBE, novelists Umi Sinha and Martine McDonagh, Janklow & Nesbit UK literary agent Rebecca Carter and Waterstones’ events manager Richard Naiff.
The prize is a week-long writing retreat at West Dean College near Chichester, as well as feedback from industry experts and six months’ mentoring.
The other shortlisted authors were Ellen Hardy, Tony Leonard, Nikki Marmery, Laura Martz, Richard Phelps and Andrew Stewart.
Shortlisted authors and judges for the Myriad First Drafts Competition at Waterstones Piccadilly.
Last year’s winner Vanessa Savage won a two-book deal with Little, Brown within weeks of winning the competition and 2015 finalist Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott secured a six-figure deal from Hutchinson for her novel Swan Song (forthcoming 2018). Other past successes include Paul McVeigh, shortlisted in 2013 with an extract from The Good Son (Salt).
Myriad’s publishing director Candida Lacey said: "The standard of entries this year was higher than ever before. This was a strong and impressive shortlist, with a wide diversity of writing styles, themes and settings. The judges had a tough choice but we have a worthy winner and look forward to seeing all of these talented writers grow from strength to strength."