Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Pete HepworthTowers of KingswickOlivia LevezMGDystopian fantasy.60000

Towers of Kingswick is a dystopian fantasy of 60,000 words, aimed at MG. It will appeal to fans of Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s The Girl of Ink & Stars and of Zillah Bethell’s A Whisper of Horses. 

Misty misty Gorror crawled up the Tower spout
Down came the sun and washed the Gorror out
Out came the dark and chased away the sun
So misty misty Gorror came to kill everyone.

Jak (12) dreams of joining the Watchers who protect Kingswick from monsters called Gorrors that lurk in the Mist. The Watchers have banned technology, blaming it for the Mist’s creation, but Jak likes to investigate and invent. He also loves scaling their homes, the Towers that pierce the green Mist, which appears every night, as relentless as the tides.

Then Jak discovers the Mist is getting higher every year, and that humans face extinction.

Judging Day arrives, the day when every child is assigned to their lifelong guild. Jak decides to impress the Watchers by attempting a tightrope walk between Towers, but the rope snaps and he falls. Regaining consciousness, Jak finds he has shattered his hip. The Watcher’s Code is clear: no one older than two winters may be helped into a Tower. Night falls and the Mist rises.

I am a teacher, which allows me the time to lose myself in Towers of Kingswick, aided by my shrewd and critical writers’ group. With the background thumps and whoops of my daughters and their attempts to play Quidditch without functioning broomsticks, I am now having enormous fun with my next novel. This recently won third place in the Skylark Fabulous Fiction for Fives to Teens Competition at Winchester Writers’ Weekend 2020. For both novels, I have been mentored by the Golden Egg Academy.

Best regards
Pete Hepworth 

Towers of Kingswick

by Pete Hepworth

It was All Hallows’ Eve. Jak knew that children once dressed as monsters on this night, charged around the streets, demanding sugar. He often tried to imagine the taste of sugar, tried to imagine being on the streets at night.

But nobody dressed as monsters any more.

Jak clambered out through the splintered door, clutching his discovery. He peered at it, eyes blinking after the dark of the cellar, and turned to Aliss as she crawled after him.

‘I can’t believe nobody’s found this before,’ Jak said. He threw the object, the blue label still attached, into the air and caught it with a whoop. ‘A hundred-year-old tincan of beans.’

‘Not everyone is stupid enough to go digging under a collapsed roof.’ Aliss, her brown skin dotted with freckles, brushed dirt from her trousers. Her father’s family were originally from Afrik. Jak could barely imagine somewhere so far away. She walked past him, wading through a mound of leaves that had gathered against the door. They swirled in a gust of wind. She looked up. ‘Er, Jak?’

‘My mother’s going to be so excited about this,’ Jak said.

‘Jak, look.’

‘Hmm?’ Jak was automatically studying the outside of the building. The main door had been taken for firewood years before. The one remaining wall had dozens of windows, every one smashed, but he could see lots of handholds in the grey stone for climbing.

‘Jak, look at the sky.’

‘The sky? What are you . . . Oh.’

It was dark. Darker than it should have been.

A bell rang, a single chime, followed by others joining in from all around Kingswick.

‘Is that the fourclock bell?’ Jak asked, realising they must have been tunnelling under the abandoned house for longer than he’d thought. Or is it later? The stirrings of something, not quite fear, bubbled in his stomach. He didn’t know what time it was and he couldn’t remember that ever happening before.

‘We need to go,’ Aliss said, hurrying down the drive.

Jak followed, past a skeleton of rusting metal that might once have been a motebike.

‘Come on,’ Aliss said, breaking into a jog, her dark hair bouncing in a ponytail. ‘Knew we should have come out earlier.’

‘It’s fine,’ Jak said as he ran to catch up. He looked around, eyeing two decaying houses, slumped together like a pair of apprentices, drunk on Exmasday applesider. None of the buildings were high enough. Couple of the bigger trees might do if they were desperate, but that would mean clinging to the branches all night. The Tower wasn’t far away.

‘It’s not fine. Hurry up.’ Aliss was pulling ahead down a passageway, boots echoing off the brick walls.

‘Loads of time,’ Jak said, between breaths. A second bell rang, a double chime. ‘Or perhaps not.’

‘Two-minute bell,’ Aliss said, her voice strained. ‘It’s fourthirty of the clock, not four.’

As they careered around the last corner, Jak could see Smikel Tower ahead.