Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Catherine OgstonThe Ice WindowJodi HerlickYAContemporary/Family and Paranormal66000

When her mum finally loses her battle with cancer, 17-year-old Cassie doesn’t know what to do with her life. She’s failed her exams and doesn’t have a place at uni, her aunt is focused on her love interest, and her dad lives at a research station in Antarctica and Cassie hasn’t seen him for years.

So when her dad calls her up and invites her to join him at his research base, she decides to go – even if their relationship to this point has been strained, at best. But her father’s clumsy attempts at parenting and refusal to talk about her mother’s death only worsen their relationship, which lurches from one disappointment to the next.

In the midst of her struggles with her dad, Cassie meets Jamie, a handsome young man who always seems to appear when Cassie needs a listening ear and good advice. Except Jamie says he lives in 1993, while Cassie lives 30 years later. Cassie searches the archives and discovers the dreadful truth of Jamie’s fate: he’s doomed to perish in the unforgiving wilderness of Antarctica. She vows to alter the past by saving him, but her deteriorating relationship with her dad puts her stay in Antarctica at risk. Can Cassie patch their fractured relationship in time to save Jamie from his tragic fate? 

THE ICE WINDOW is a complete manuscript with a word count of 66000 words. It is a contemporary young adult story with paranormal elements. THE ICE WINDOW has been long listed for the Exeter Novel Award 2018 and the Caledonia Novel Award 2020. It could be described as Quantum Leap crossed with Geraldine McCaughrean’s The White Darkness. 

A teacher by day, I have been writing for ten years and have had work published with New Writing Scotland, Storgy, Momaya Press, Honey and Lime, Story Attic, Bath Flash and National Flash Fiction Day anthologies. I write short stories, flash, MG and YA novels. I won the TC Farries Crystal Thistle for a children’s manuscript in 2018.

Thanks for your consideration,

Catherine Ogston

THE ICE WINDOW

Mum died on a Tuesday.

I was with her when it happened. I had been there at her side for weeks, but in that last twenty-four hours everything had sped up. She went from talking to silent, from lifting her hands and turning her head to immobile, from a warm living body to a shell. She stopped speaking in sentences, and then she was unable to utter more than a few words here and there. Her eyes closed, and I stared at her eyelids, willing them to open for one last time so I could feel that connection with her. But she fell into the sort of sleep that I knew was pulling her away from me, further and further. 

As dusk fell, I listened to the rattle in her lungs wind down and then fade out. Her skin took on a stretched, waxy sheen, and her face looked sunken. I held her hands, but they didn’t feel like part of her: the hands that had held me, fed me, bathed me, wiped my eyes when I was upset, clapped for me and held me safe at every dangerous corner of my life. These hands were only bone, dry skin, blood growing cold within them. At the end, the person lying there wasn’t my mum anymore. 

When we realised it was all over, Aunt Sarah guided me out of the room and sat me in the hospice lounge. We were both numb, and when a nurse asked if we would like some tea, Aunt Sarah’s voice cracked out of her throat, like she was pushing her words past a huge lump. I couldn’t say a word, and my hand shook when I lifted the tea cup to my lips. The nurses moved calmly in the corridor. Doors opened and closed, voices chattered, telephones rang, a burst of laughter came and went. People walked up and down, right past the closed door to Mum’s room, like everything was normal. 

‘We’ll get through this, Cassie,’ said Aunt Sarah in a brave voice. I nodded slowly, all my movements needing to be tiny and slow. I tried a feeble smile because I knew her heart was breaking too. Then we both sipped our tea without talking about the fact that after months and weeks and days of waiting for it, Mum’s death was a relief. She had been descending down a spinning rope for a long time; we had known for a while there was no climbing back up. Now the cord was cut.  

Friends came and went. Flowers and cards arrived. Strangers, or perhaps people I should have known but couldn’t quite place, sent letters and knocked at the door. I developed that smile needed for when people tell you they are sorry for your loss, but I felt like my body was made of wool, knitted together to make the 3D outline of me when inside I was hollow, and it would only take one tiny snag and I would unravel.