Thank you to author and fellow Talkback forum contributor Rosalie Warren for drawing my attention to this exciting new prize. Aimed at flushing out the new Roald Dahl, Andy Stanton or Francesca Simon, the prize is being organised jointly by The Greenhouse Literary Agency and The Writers’ Workshop. All you have to do is submit the first five thousand words and a synopsis of your funniest novel, chapter book or picture book by 30 July. The prize is representation by this exciting and dynamic young agency and a free ticket to The Writers’ Workshop Festival of Writing where you will be presented with a bottle of champers to boot.
The submission guidelines are here; as usual, follow them to the letter to maximise your chances. Entry is free and submission is by email.
Of course you can just submit to The Greenhouse in their usual way but the benefits of this prize are the attendant publicity and boost to your career. And sometimes knowing that you are in competition with others can bring out your best writing.
It’s happened! At last! I’ve been sent my very first review copy of a book! I received Coping With Chloe, due to be published on 21 March, from author Rosalie Warren yesterday. It’s one of the first offerings from new children’s publisher Phoenix Yard, who are one of the publishers on my list who accept unsolicited manuscripts, and so I was very eager to read it.
Coping with Chloe is the story of a twin, or perhaps of two twins. Chloe has died in a road accident and Anna is convinced Chloe now shares her body. At first she is happy to have her twin with her, helping her with homework and looking out for her. But after a while the experience becomes unpleasant as Chloe tries to dominate and gain the attention of Anna’s new friend Joe.
Anna’s experiences are ambiguous – the book may be read ‘straight’ or as an expression of Anna’s grief. But although the story deals with some heavy issues – death, depression, physical abuse, the threat of sexual abuse – the author deals with the topics with a light, deft touch. It’s not a traumatic read, and in fact has some very funny moments, mostly arising from the character of Anna who has a way of expressing herself that will be familiar to anyone who knows twelve year old girls. I wouldn’t recommend it to a child who is bereaved as they may find the presence of Chloe a little frightening; it’s better read as a paranormal or ghost story. The pace is fast and lively and would appeal to reluctant readers. I especially loved the very recognisable school bully Lisa, Anna’s interaction with her father, and the subplot involving Joe which jerks Anna back into reality.
My only negative comment is that at one point Anna is followed by a man in a park who is a stereotype of the ‘dirty old man’ we tend to warn our children about. It felt too hackneyed to be convincing. The rest of the book I loved, and gobbled down in one greedy sitting. Warren has a wonderfully light comic touch while being able to deal with real issues. I look forward to reading more from her and from Phoenix Yard.
Note: an edited version of this review also appears on Amazon.