UCL Publishers’ Prize inaugural winners announced
The team behind the UCL Publishers’ Prize have this week announced the winners of the inaugural award, which was launched earlier this year with the aim of discovering a new generation of literary talent among the current student body.
The Prize was set up as part of the MA in Publishing’s Publishing Project module, which requires students to work on their own book-related projects in small groups.
After drawing up a shortlist of just 20 stories from a submissions pile of over 120, the Publishing students were advised on the final decision by three guest judges from the publishing industry: fiction publisher Laura Palmer from Head of Zeus, literary agent Lizzy Kremer from David Higham Associates, and agent’s assistant Harriet Moore, also from David Higham Associates.
Competition was fierce for the first, second and third place spots, with the winners due to receive £300, £200 and £100 respectively. PhD scholars battled undergraduate students, flash fiction took on longer narrative and a variety of different genres vied for top place.
In the end, the winner was MA student Gwyneth Kelly for ‘MoodBeam SunSubstitute’, a speculative story about a sun-replacement salesman searching for authenticity in a world of artificial substitution. Lizzy Kremer called the tale “as finely wrought and fully realised as any short story by a professional writer”.
Second place went to archaeology undergraduate Lucy Smith for ‘Bud, Rose, Thorn’, a fairytale-esque piece about a newspaper reporter following a story of missing children to its chilling conclusion. Harriet Moore praised the story’s “charming and unsettling” narrator who “makes us aware of his own unreliability in a way that draws us in, seduces us even”.
Finally, third place was awarded to MA student Clematis Delany for The ‘Tale of Lena-Jane’, which opens with the narrator’s father dying… and then dying again and again. Laura Palmer called the story “morbid and blackly funny”.
Two further stories were highly commended: a second offering from Gwyneth Kelly entitled ‘Walker of Dogs’, and PhD student Kristen Perrin’s ‘The Rock Monster’.
The shortlisted stories will be published in an anthology which will be launched at an event in London at the end of September, where the winners will read from their pieces. Clays will print the anthology over the summer and the production will be managed by the MA students.
Supported by the recently relaunched UCL Press, the UCL Department of Information Studies and UCL’s Joint Faculty Institute of Graduate Studies, the Prize will be a continuing legacy and will be passed down to the next crop of Publishing MA students.
Project Manager Molly Slight said: “We were delighted with the reception that the Prize had in this, its inaugural year. Our aim was to get over 50 entries and we ended up with over 120! All the shortlisted authors should feel extremely proud, as they were up against some seriously stiff competition. We are grateful to UCL for their fantastic support and to our guest judges, who offered us useful industry insight into which stories they felt were most publishable, and which authors they would like to see more from. I am really excited by the talent we have uncovered and look forward to launching the book and, with this, hopefully launching the careers of some brilliant young authors.”
The full shortlist of stories to be published in the anthology is as follows:
‘The Fourth Floor’ by Nicholas Baines
‘The Boys I Mean Are Not Refined’ by Kathleen Bryson
‘The Tale of Lena-Jane’ by Clematis Delany
‘After Hours’ by Alice Dunn
‘A Run’ by Oskar Gordon
‘The Room’ by Elizabeth Harvey
‘The Party’ by Callie Hitchcock
‘Unseasonable Snowflakes’ by Naomi Ishiguro
‘Untitled 1’ by Bruno Kaapa
‘MoodBeam SunSubstitute’ by Gwyneth Kelly
‘Walker of Dogs’ by Gwyneth Kelly
‘Demand and Supply’ by Yohann Koshy
‘Anne/En’ by Heather Lee
‘Apples’ by Anna Opara
‘The Rock Monster’ by Kristen Perrin
‘Bud, Rose, Thorn’ by Lucy Smith
‘West Country Funeral Honours’ by Luzia Troebinger
‘At The Other End’ by Jonathan Tsang
‘E’ by Sydney Vickars
‘Back Home for Christmas’ by Jeremy Yang