Simon & Schuster UK has revealed the winner of its Books and the City Heatseeker short story competiton run in association with heat Magazine.
Hannah Pearl scooped the prize from 577 other entrants for her story ‘Hell’s Belle’, for which she will receive an e-book contract with S&S and see her story published under the “#DigitalOriginals” e-book programme in spring 2018.
The runners up in the competition were 'A Sky Full of Stars' by Lisa Allen and 'Steps' by S J King, the latter of which has also won the Books and the City Choice Awards and will also be published in e-book as a #DigitalOriginal next year.
Pearl will also have a mentoring session with author Paige Toon and a critique of her work over lunch with A M Heath literary agent Rebecca Ritchie, both competition judges.
The judging panel also featured Lucie Cave, editor-in-chief at heat, Isabelle Broom, novelist and book reviews editor at heat, S&S editor Emma Capron and Sara-Jade Virtue, brand director at Books and the City, the commercial women’s fiction website run by S&S.
Capron described Pearl's story as "a heart-breaking delight". She said: "It came in quite early on in the process and stayed with me throughout, a clear sign of greatness. I loved equally our two other shorlitstees, and I cannot wait to see what comes next for all three of them.”
Ritchie said that “the longlist of 19 really shone, with short stories shining a light on serious emotions like grief, identity and heartbreak, and of course there were lots which made us laugh too”.
“From that we have one incredibly deserving winner and two brilliant runners up, whose stories cover some powerful, contemporary themes," she said. "Our winner Hannah Pearl’s story really moved us with its poignant portrayal of female friendship, and we were impressed by her characterisation and delicate use of humour when writing about grief. I think she has a bright future writing commercial fiction.”
Virtue revealed that Pearl’s story had “absolutely touched my heart”. She said: “I am so excited that our search for a fresh new writing talent has resulted in not one, but two brand new authors for our #DigitalOriginals publishing programme.”
Other stories on the 19-strong longlist included: 'Square One' by Alice Beazer, 'One Final Thing I Must Do' by Ami Henderson, 'Are You Still Having Fun' by Chloe Dorigan, 'The One Show' by Clare Cummings, 'Media Madness' by Emma Lefley, 'The Fitting' by Hannah Varley, 'Spilt Milk' by Jennie Domett, 'Found' by Jodie Payne, 'The Wedding Singer' by Jolie Davison, 'A Fresh Start' by Katie Lawrance, 'Dry Shampoo Days' by Leah Mohammed, 'Shattered' by Megan Barnett, 'Emma' by Sally Alden, 'Wishful Thinking' by Sally Foan, 'Lost in La-La Land' by Victoria Dyson and 'Mission Wedding' by Yvonne Lang.
For more information, visit www.booksandthecity.co.uk.