Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Judy DarleyWindstruckLindsay GalvinMGSurvival adventure with elements of eco-fable55000

‘Windstruck’ is an upper MG novel complete at 55,000 words. The genre is survival adventure with elements of eco-fable. It will appeal to fans of ‘Where the World Turns Wild’ by Nicola Penfold.

Until the year she turns twelve, Lutta has never needed to know anything about survival. But then plastic-eating microbes evolve to devour every scrap of plastic they encounter, destroying human society in the process.

On the day that power clicks off around the world, Lutta’s island town erupts into violent mayhem. Networks have gone down, industry has halted, and the microbes’ appetite has released toxins into oceans, rendering rain poisonous and accelerating the climate crisis.
Lutta escapes with her uncle Laurie (doctor and ex-soldier, almost always in control), brother Jacob (diabetic, epileptic drama queen) and young cousin Alfred (sweet enough to rot your teeth, when it suits him), in one of two solar-powered, non-plastic hot air balloons they’ve built.
Lutta’s family are seeking a cloud valley where Lutta’s scientist aunt Agati (who they’ve had to leave behind) believes they will be safe. However, Lutta will soon discover how perilous life is as a refugee on the far side of the ocean, where jaguars, bears and coyotes are less dangerous than some humans they’ll meet.

An organic scientist at Oxford University read an early draft and advised on the sections regarding plastic-eating microbes.

‘Windstruck’ is a stand-alone novel with series potential.

I’ve worked as a freelance journalist since 2008. Prior to that I was a staff writer and feature writer on travel magazines. I’ve had short fiction published by magazines and anthologies in the UK, New Zealand, India, US and Canada, including The Mechanics’ Institute Review, Mslexia, Unthology 8 and SmokeLong Quarterly. My short story collection Sky Light Rain is out now from Valley Press. 

I regularly share my short fiction at literary events across the UK, including Bristol Festival of Literature and the Flash Fiction Festival. In my spare time I run culture blog SkyLightRain.com, spreading the word about literary events and opportunities, and sharing news of my own publications.

My first 500 words are included below. 

Many thanks for your time and consideration.

Warm regards,
Judy Darley


Windstruck by Judy Darley

Chapter 1 – The ending of life as I know it


The power clicked off a month after I turned twelve. 

I was sitting at the kitchen table live-messaging my bestie Imo when my tablet made a small tick noise and left me staring at a blank screen. At the same time the fridge juddered and fell silent.

Moments later, my brother Jacob and cousin Alfred burst in. “TV’s died!”

Aunt Agati stood up from the far end of the table, her eyes narrowing. “The WiFi’s gone too. You know the drill.”

We hurried upstairs to the living room, where Uncle Laurie was already drawing the curtains closed. The fabric was patterned with green and gold, so it was like being inside a forest back when trees still quivered with leaves, like they did when I was no older than Jacob and Alfred.

I began a game of Monopoly to keep the boys distracted while Laurie and Agati raced through the house, checking we hadn’t missed anything essential. The earthy tang of the coffee Laurie brewed earlier that morning still laced the air, his half-drained mug waiting on an end table beside his favourite book: Encyclopaedia Of Islands.

My heart skittered in my chest as we heard a loud crash outside. Glass shattered somewhere too close for my liking.

“Hang tight,” I said, creeping across the room and peering between the curtains. People were rushing out of their houses lugging rucksacks and wheelie suitcases. One man had a wheelbarrow laden with what looked like paintings and books. I couldn’t work out why he’d decided those were the important things to save. Most people wore t-shirts and jeans or hiking trousers like me, but one woman was decked out in turquoise chiffon and jewels like she was late for a ball. Some locked their doors as they departed; others let them stand wide open – giving up on anything they couldn’t carry.

It was as though our island was an anthill someone had poured boiling water onto. The windows of the supermercado on the corner had been smashed and figures beetled in and out, emptying it of every tin and bottle. Nothing plastic though. Everyone knew that taking anything plastic would be inviting the microbes along for the ride.

I watched the collision of two groups dashing in opposite directions along the terraced street. As arms and legs flailed, someone got lamped in the face and their nose gushed crimson. The sight of that red vital substance seemed to ignite the air. Fists started shooting out with purpose and shrieks tore upwards. When the throng dispersed, some individuals were hobbling. 

Jacob leapt to his feet. “What’s happening out there, Lutta?”

“Nothing,” I lied. “Just a few grown-ups being silly. Stay away from the windows.”

“It’s only another power cut,” Jacob said, brows knitting together over his flint-blue eyes.

I focused on his freckles, trying to keep my breathing steady. “I think this might be the final one.”