We’re delighted to announce the winner of the first HWA/Sharpe Books Unpublished Novel Award. She’s Maggie Richell Davies, whose gripping story, The Servant, came first in a very strong field.
Once again the judges wish to stress how impressive the submissions were and how hard it was to come to a final decision. Many congratulations to all the entrants.
Maggie Richell Davies for The Servant
1765: Fourteen-year-old Hannah must go where she’s sent, despite her instincts screaming danger. Why does disgraced aristocrat William Chalke have a locked room in his house? What’s sold at the auctions taking place behind closed doors?
‘I was gripped from the very first line.’
Maggie receives the £500 prize, and the offer of publication from Sharpe Books.
Peter Sandham for Porphyry and Ash
1452: John Grant is a Scottish mercenary, newly arrived in Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine empire, which is under threat from the Ottoman Turks. Anna Notaras is the teenage daughter of Constantinople’s richest man. Previously betrothed to Emperor Constantine, she nurses a grudge against him for breaking the engagement off and an ambition to still be empress one day.
‘Full of action, colour and pathos. A cracking read.’
Susan Stokes-Chapman for Infelice
August 1820: Sarah Walker returns to the family home and finds that in her absence a new lodger has moved in. William Hazlitt shows a marked interest in her and Sarah, having been starved of affection for so long unwittingly encourages his attentions, for he is like no man she has ever met: sharply intelligent, passionate in his beliefs and, above all, a writer who might teach her something of the world.
‘A haunting story beautifully reconstructed from the evidence.’
Peter and Susan both receive a cash award of £100
Many congratulations to the further three writers who made it to the shortlist.
Anna Pietrzkiewicz-Reid for Behold the Man
1899: Sent away from Krakow after a scandal, Lidka Feldmann, a half-Polish, half-Jewish student, arrives in a remote village. Instead of finding a rural idyll, she gets drawn into mysterious and dangerous events joining forces with a priest to solve a murder.
‘A colourful, convincing story told with polish and panache.’
Baptiste Pinson for Sword Maidens
7th century Scandinavia: Mist, the shy thrall of a Dane jarl must prove she is worth more alive than dead to the Sword-Maidens, a crew of women and men led by the charismatic Kara Halfdansdottir.
‘Excellent, lively writing, full of energy and texture.’
Felicity J Reid for Guinevere
5th century: In the modern day Gwen returns to scatter her father’s ashes on Glastonbury Tor, and finds a gold ring lying in the church tower on its summit. Picking up the ring, she’s transported back to the fifth century and finds Merlin who is convinced it is her destiny to become the Queen Guinevere of legend.
‘Convincing and atmospheric writing. A passionate cliffhanger finale which had me eager for Volume II.’
Richard Foreman, founder of Sharpe Books, says:
“The standard of submissions was a welcome pleasure. Many of the authors had a great feel for their genres – and were grateful for feedback and advice to improve their manuscripts. I wish to particularly congratulate the winner – and all those on the shortlist. Such has been the success of the prize that plans are already under way to run a similar competition next year.”
Imogen Robertson, chair of the Historical Writers’ Association, says:
“It was humbling and exciting to have such a brilliant range of manuscripts to read and we were all very impressed by the quality of the submissions. The Servant is a brilliant book of real power and impact and I’m delighted more people will get a chance to read it.”