Rebecca Henry, a 20-year-old librarian working in a secondary school in Swindon, has won the £1,000 Everything with Words' YA competition, judged by author Patrice Lawrence.
Henry’s novel The Sound of Everything is about a girl in foster care who believes that all she’s got in the world is a knife called Emerson. Lawrence described Henry as “a real prodigy”, saying “I was sucked in by the quality of the writing, the ear for dialogue and a complex character who on the surface could seem unlikeable but who is compelling and makes you route for her”.
The competition was launched by Mikka Haugaard, the founder of independent publisher Everything With Words, who will publish the winning novel in May.
Haugaard said: “We had a very strong and interesting shortlist. Patrice felt (as did I) that the The Sound of Everything stood out as a compelling new voice and an amazingly accomplished and engaging piece of writing. She has a wonderful ear for dialogue that immediately grabbed us and makes the book come alive.”
Haugaard launched the competition in November to find new, urban YA voices.
At the time she said she set up the competition because she was not “seeing enough novels about young, urban life” that “celebrate and give insight into the multicultural world of today’s Britain”.