The Women's Prize Trust has revealed the inaugural shortlist for its Discoveries programme, a new initiative seeking untapped female writing talent from across the UK and Ireland.
Partnering with NatWest and Curtis Brown, the programme has seen more than 2,300 women submit works of fiction, 73% of whom live outside London.
Sixteen authors were initially longlisted by a judging panel chaired by Kate Mosse, novelist and founder director of the Women’s Prize. She was joined on the panel by novelist Abi Daré, director for Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature Sandeep Mahal, Curtis Brown agent Lucy Morris, and Anna Davis, founder and m.d. of Curtis Brown Creative writing school.
The shortlist includes A Boy Called Silence by Nana Afua Pierre, a British-Ghanaian writer based in Gloucestershire; Pantheon by Lucy Keefe, a young writer who began with Taylor Swift fan fiction; and Dosage and Control by April Yee, a translator.
Also shortlisted is Under the Light, Yet Under by Lorna Elcock, a Scottish writer with an MA in creative and life writing from Goldsmiths; Say My Name by Niloufar Tabatabai, a British-Iranian writer navigating her twenties in London; and Heartstring by Emma van Straaten, a fundraiser who works at the V&A.
Mosse said: “It was a tough decision to whittle down our longlist to only six, but it was a discussion full of admiration, of celebration and of excitement. We were looking for promise, for imagination and distinctive voice, for diversity of genre and experience, age and background, but most of all for writers at the beginning of their writing journeys with something special to say. Some have been writing for a while and so are the right place to take things forward, others picked up their pens for the very first time as part of Discoveries. We're delighted that Curtis Brown literary agency and creative writing school are offering a range of mentoring and writing support initiatives, and look forward to seeing what each of these six writers will do next."
All 16 longlisted authors will be offered personalised mentorship packages from a Curtis Brown agent or another industry expert, free or discounted places on the agency's creative’s writing courses and access to NatWest’s Business Builder, a digital tool designed to support individuals thinking of starting up a business.
Shortlisted authors are also invited to attend the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021 ceremony in July and will be given access to NatWest’s Women in Business events and a financial health check. The winner will be announced on 9th June, and will receive an offer of representation from the literary agency, £5,000 and desk space in a NatWest Accelerator Hub. The runner-up will win a place on Curtis Brown Creative’s flagship three-month Writing Your Novel course, worth £1,800.
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