UK writer Russell Jones has been shortlisted for the $50,000 (£37,990) Half the World Global Literati Award for his unpublished YA novel The Talkers.
The Half the World Global Literati Award will be presented to a short story, novel or screenplay written in English, judged to have portrayed one or more well-rounded female protagonists as the central character. The original, unpublished work must offer a "fresh perspective" on the challenges and joys of women’s lives.
Jones' novel The Talkers, one of 40 works competing on the shortlist, is told from a third person omniscient perspective and follows Chris, a 15-year-old, highly intelligent but emotionally tangled girl as she seeks her parents’ killers in a matriarchal world ruled by Talkers: powerful individuals who can psychically control animals.
Jones told The Bookseller: “I was attracted to the competition because it focusses on a very important issue: putting female characters at the centre of good stories."
The novel is currently unpublished and Jones is seeking an agent. He said: "I've been seeking an agent for this book for about a year, on and off. I've had about a dozen rejections prior to this award shortlisting. I'm seeking someone who enjoys my work and will support my YA writing career, as I've written another YA novel and intend to keep writing them."
Jones has previously published collections of poetry, with his most recent The Green Dress Whose Girl is Sleeping (Freight Books) published in 2015. He has also edited two collections of writing: Where Rockets Burn Through: Contemporary Science Fiction Poems from the UK (Penned in the Margins) and the forthcoming Umbrellas of Edinburgh: Poetry and Prose Inspired by Scotland's Capital City (Freight Books).
Half the World Holdings is an investment platform that supports businesses for whom women are the end-consumer. It was launched by global investment platform Blackrun Ventures in March 2016.
As well as the first prize, there is an audience award of $1,000 for the most popular new work. The Talkers is currently in second place.
The prize winners will be announced on 15th July 2016.