Here we are, in the midst of summer heatwave, finally announcing out inaugural winner of the 2021 Novel-in-Development Award. We had an amazing response to this with about 400 entries, of incredible standard. Selecting the longlist, then the shortlist and finally the winner, was incredibly tough.

And we hope that everyone who entered and opted for feedback, found that useful in advancing and developing your novel.

It’s also worth saying, and this is oversaid but very true – progressing in novel awards is down to a HUGE element of LUCK, TASTE and TIMING. I always say that if we simply reallocated all the first round reads to different to readers, we’d have a very different longlist and shortlist. So if you missed out this time, please remember that. Enter again, because you’re certain to get a different reader. In fact, enter all the competitions (if you can) and give yourself that opportunity to perhaps get the right combination of luck, taste and timing! It only takes one.

To all those who were shortlisted, a HUGE well done – making a shortlist from 400 entries is an incredible feat and you should be very proud and make sure you get those books finished, because each of you had universal YES votes from our readers through multiple rounds, even when we asked the readers to be tougher, and so your story has what it takes – keep writing, finishing and sending it out!


So, onto the big announcements:

The 2021 WINNER is:

THROW LIKE A GIRL by Amanda Thomas

It’s a contemporary middle-grade novel involving lots of cricket! Fizz lives with her mum, desperate for attention from her dad.

Here is what judge, Christabel McKinley, had to say about the winner:

I was won over by the rascal-y Fizz Bird from her opening line – and secretly thought she was quite right to give Melvin what he had coming! It has been a good while since a character drew me in so instantly and so completely – Fizz has so much personality packed into her and had me chuckling from the get go. She seems like someone I would want to befriend (although not get on the wrong side of…) and I already want to see her prove everyone wrong. Excellent voice, comedic brilliance, and I can’t wait to see how Fizz’s cricketing journey unfolds – I’m rooting for her!


The 2021 RUNNER-UP is:

The Living Goddess and the Pirate Queen by Katja Kaine

It’s a young adult fantasy novel involving a multiple point-of-view story following 5-year-old Sharmali and 18-year-old street rat, Nisha.

Here is what judge, Christabel McKinley, had to say about the runner-up:

I found myself at the end of the extract of THE LIVING GODDESS AND THE PIRATE QUEEN in the blink of an eye, which is surely a hallmark of quality storytelling. The story throws us right into the thick of the action, and it had me holding my breath without even realising it. The voice is confident and engaging, and reassures us that it is about to take us on a spellbinding journey. And I am buckling up for the ride!

CONGRATULATIONS to both authors!

Stuart will be in touch with next steps.


Full shortlist with names attached:

NameTitle of Manuscript
Laura CollinsExtra Ordinary
Ben WilliamsGrace Weaver and the Other Kingdom
Jennifer MatternSAVING THE SILVER WILLOW
Rosemary Bird-HawkinsThe Burning
Rebecca WoodThe Crows of St Aubin
Katja KaineThe Living Goddess and the Pirate Queen
Anna MoutranThe Memory Maker’s Apprentice
Janet McDermott-BrownThe Picture House
Geoff BarkerThe Umbrella Man
Philippa PeallThis Is Not A Love Song
Amanda ThomasThrow like a Girl

Well done again to all who entered. You have my respect for being brave enough to put your work out there.

And thanks to all our wonderful kid readers – we hope those vouchers will help continue to fuel your reading habits. And to our adult readers – thanks as always for all you do for WM, for our writers and for being such easy humans to deal with. It’s not always easy with quick turnarounds and lots of reading, but you’ve approached it all with great humour and a massive heap of love for those books you read!

May the Force be with you!

If you wish to view the shortlist again, click here.

To view the longlist, click here.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: