A Message from Sally Gardner – Honorary Chair 2016

We’re proud to post a message from Sally Gardner shared with our finalists at the launch of this year’s anthology.

Sally talks about her journey to becoming a writer and questions an unhelpful educational focus on the qualifications of being writer (like spelling!) rather than the importance of story and inspiration. She speculates whether one of the greats of English literature might well have been found today thanks to Undiscovered Voices. As a ‘fell-walker’, Sally talks about the difficulty of the creative process and how much luck is needed after the difficult climb up the mountain of ideas.

We’d like to thank Keith Rogerson for recording and editing this video and thank Working Partners for hosting the interview!


The 2016 Success Story that Almost Never Happened: Patti Buff

Patti BuffSix out of twelve writers among the Undiscovered Voices finalist have now been signed by agents, but the latest signing is one that might have never have happened!

“Most people don’t know this, but I almost entered a previous version of my novel for the 2014 anthology, but decided at the last moment that my story wasn’t working,” confesses finalist Patti Buff. “So I tossed the entire book and started over from scratch. I am so glad I listened to my gut and reworked Requiem because being chosen for the anthology has paid off a thousand-fold.”

A Chance for Immortality

Requiem introduces Rix, a street-wise seventeen-year-old, who has a chance to earn immortality by working for the feared and powerful Cathari family. She just needs to do everything that they ask her to do, but when they kidnap her supposed-to-be-dead boyfriend, she finds herself in the middle of a century old feud. Will the lure of immortality be trumped by the love for a boyfriend who abandoned her?

This irresistible tale told with an amazing voice attracted agent Hannah Sheppard from DHH Literary Agency as soon as she read it in the Undiscovered Voices anthology. “I knew I wanted to talk to her [as soon as I had finished reading Requiem]. We bonded over Midwest America (where Patti is from and where I spent a year as a teenager), blizzards and speech team competitions. We met again at Bologna once I’d finished reading (and loved) the full manuscript to discuss Patti’s future ideas (which I’m incredibly excited about) and that confirmed for me that Patti was someone I’d very much enjoy working with. I was delighted when she agreed to sign with me at DHH Literary Agency.”

Dream Fulfillers

From Patti’s point of view, she felt something click as soon as author and agent spoke to each other. “Not only had she been to the frozen tundra I call home, but she even liked it and remembered it fondly,” Patti tell us. “Hannah told me her vision for both Requiem and my future projects and I knew that I’d found the perfect partner for me and my books. A huge thank you to everyone involved with Undiscovered Voices for making all of this possible. You’ll always be known as the ‘Dream Fulfillers’ to me.”

We’re as glad as Patti that she finally entered her book into Undiscovered Voices and is beginning to see her dedication to her craft pay off!

Getting Prepared for UV2018

For currently undiscovered writers out there, UV2018 will be launching in Spring 2017, so now is a perfect time to start something new in time for the competition or reassess your work-in-progress for the sort of changes that can transform it into a book worthy of the shortlist. Make sure you sign up for email alerts here.

Best of luck from the “Dream Fulfillers”!

2016 Success Story: Angels and an Agents for Sophie Cameron

Sophie CameronWith her gripping story about angels falling from sky, it wasn’t going to be long before someone snapped up finalist Sophie Cameron. We’re delight to share the news that she has been signed by Hellie Ogden at Janklow & Nesbit.

Sophie, who wrote Out of the Blue, says, “Undiscovered Voices has been an amazing boost, both to my writing career and to my confidence! I really didn’t expect to be selected, so to make the anthology and then to get such a great response from agents and publishers was hugely exciting.”

Out of the Blue follows the story of Jaya MacKenzie combining a personal tragedy against a global phenomenon of falling angels. With her dad determined to capture one of the angels alive, will Jaya and her family ever get a chance to come to terms with her mum’s death? As one of the judges said, “a very original premise pulled off skillfully.”

Meeting at the launch party, Hellie and Sophie hit it off straight away. “I felt sure she was the right agent for me,” Sophie says. “As well as being really lovely, she has such a fantastic vision for ‘Out of the Blue‘, and I know with her editorial help it’ll be a much stronger novel.”

And, agent Hellie Ogden couldn’t be happier. “I am a huge fan of Undiscovered Voices; the talent is always exceptional so it’s a really important resource for agents,” she says. “I was blown away by the quality this year and to find, and then get to represent, the incredibly talented Sophie Cameron is really exciting. Sophie is one to watch.”

We couldn’t put it better ourselves. But we’ll leave the last word to Sophie: “Getting to meet the other writers and illustrators was great, too – I’ve loved hearing their success stories and am excited to see their work in print! It’s been a brilliant experience and I’m so grateful to the organisers and to SCBWI British Isles for the opportunity. Thank you!”

2016 Success Story: Kerry’s Fairytale Agent in Judge Kate

Kerry CassidyOne of our lovely judges, Kate Shaw of The Viney Agency, has signed up author of The Thread Fairy, Kerry Cassidy. Both are mothers of boys and have loved escaping the football, rugby, cricket in this delightful fairy adventure.

Kate says, “Kerry’s fairy story is fresh, charming, sweet, funny… gorgeous! Gabriella is a lovely heroine and I have a good feeling about The Thread Fairy…”

The Thread Fairy is the story of Gabriella, the class prankster, who discovers she is in fact one of rarest of magical beings – a thread fairy. Whilst her heart is in the right place she manages to cause trouble wherever she goes. Throughout this story readers learn with Gabriella the importance in life of understanding what others are thinking and feeling but they’ll have lots of fun along the way.

When Kerry first got the phone call from Sara Grant to say she’d been short-listed for Undiscovered Voices she didn’t really believe it. She had only entered the competition after a friend convinced her it was worth a try. “When I got the news I just kept smiling to myself but couldn’t believe that this list of judges had picked out my story,” she says. “The team at Undiscovered Voices and the judges were giving up their time to help unpublished writers like me. When I met Kate I knew instantly that we’d work well together and thank goodness she felt the same. I am delighted to sign with The Viney Agency and thrilled to be represented by Kate who I feel has been in my corner from the outset.”

Kate wants to tell other writers not hold back. “Next time around enter Undiscovered Voices and you just never know what might happen…”

We couldn’t agree more!

2016 Success Stories: An Agent goes Nuts over Simon James Green

Simon James GreenIt’s the early bird that gets the worm, although in this case it’s the Skylark that gets the promising undiscovered voice. We’re thrilled to hear that Simon James Green, author of Nuts, has signed with Jo Moult at Skylark Literary.

“I clicked with Jo immediately,” says Simon. “I am so thrilled to be represented by such a fantastic agent at a dynamic and exciting agency. I’m now looking forward to working with Jo editorially on the manuscript before we submit to publishers and am very excited about the projects we will work together on in the future.”

The feeling is mutual as his new agent, Jo Moult, says, “I’m so delighted that Simon has signed with Skylark Literary. He has huge writing talent with a wonderful gift for humour. We definitely feel there are exciting times ahead for Simon!”

Nuts is the story of fifteen-year-old Noah caught inadvertently snogging his best mate Harry and that’s only one of the many strange situations he gets himself into in a book described by one the judges as an Inbetweeners-style teen boy comedy.

However, it’s not just about scoring a top agent. As Simon says, “Undiscovered Voices has been an amazing experience. Thanks to the dedication and support of the wonderful volunteers who run the competition, I’ve had my work read by top agents and publishers. Undiscovered Voices has also given me the opportunity to meet other fabulous folk from the world of publishing, including the wonderful team at Working Partners as well as all the other brilliantly talented writers and illustrators whose work was included in the anthology. So to Sara Grant, Sara O’Connor, the UV committee and Working Partners, I just want to say a massive thank you and I definitely owe you all a drink!”

Well, three cheers to that! Congratulations Simon!

2016 Success Stories: Thrilling Surprises for Anna Bowles

Anna BowlesПоздравления (pozdravleniya) to Anna Bowles, author of Steel Tanya, who has just signed with Jenny Savill at Andrew Nurnberg Associates. She’s the second of our Undiscovered Voices 2016 finalists to sign with an agent in the last few weeks.

Used to more unsavoury surprises when writing about her character’s life in Leningrad during Stalin’s Purges, Anna is “very excited to be working with Andrew Nurnberg Associates. I signed up just a few hours after visiting their offices – it was clear they were the right agency for me! Jenny’s enthusiasm for STEEL TANYA, and that of the whole team, was obvious. I know they’ll find Tanya a good home.”

Anna’s novel follows the life of seventeen-year-old committed communist Tanya whose dreams of becoming an engineer are shattered when her parents are arrested.

“I’m so thrilled to be representing Anna – she writes superbly!” says agent Jenny Savill. “We are a very good fit for her here at Andrew Nurnberg Associates, with our shared love of history, great writing for Young Adults – and all things Russian.”

We can’t wait to see what is next for Anna. All that’s left to say is: Удачи! (Udači!)

2016 Success Stories: The Evolution of Rose and her new Agent!

Rose Margaret DenizHotly following on from the launch of the Undiscovered Voices 2016 anthology, we’re delighted to share the news that Rose Margaret Deniz, author of The Evolution of You Me, has signed up with agent Jo Williamson at Antony Harwood Ltd.

“I always look forward to receiving the Undiscovered Voices anthology as it is packed with such talent and this year’s more than lived up to my expectations,” Rose’s new agent said.

“I particularly loved Rose’s The Evolution Of You And Me which is a high-concept love story.  I was intrigued by the idea of love surviving in different guises across different dimensions. The characters of Pree and Kenner, though altered as their circumstances changed, remained steadfastly vivid and I was rooting for them both throughout. I am a sucker for a good love story and this novel took things to a whole new level with passages set in space as well as on Earth.  I felt Rose was always in control of her ambitious story and really pushed the boundaries, writing a novel that felt fresh and exciting.”

Delighted, Rose describes signing with Jo as just the beginning of an amazing journey. “Jo reached out to me within days of the anthology being released. From our very first contact, her interest and excitement about The Evolution of You and Me was palpable. We just seemed to click when we talked on the phone, and after meeting in person, I could imagine no better champion for this story than Jo.”

There’s also hope for writers who have been honorary mentioned as Rose was counted amongst them in the last anthology. “I would strongly encourage other writers and illustrators to believe in their work and never give up. After being long listed for another manuscript in 2014, I hit the page even harder, and took the chance to submit again this past year. I’m so glad I did. It is thanks to this incredible opportunity from SCBWI BI and Working Partners that I can share the news that I am now working with Jo!”

While we’re off celebrating Rose’s news, we’ll leave the last word to Jo Williamson, “I am so thrilled to be working with Rose and can’t wait to get The Evolution Of You And Me on to bookshop shelves and into the hands of readers who are in for a real treat.”

Children’s illustrators of the future

UV2016_front coverWe’re very excited that the lovely editors at the Guardian Children’s Books pages have published a gallery of our amazing Undiscovered Voices 2016 illustrator finalists.

The Guardian sums it up best on the gallery: “Congrats to all the undiscovered illustrators that have been picked out as mega talented and whose gorgeous illustrations are now in the SCBWI anthology, along with the writing of 12 new authors”.

Visit the gallery at the Guardian here.

The Magical Voyage That Comes After Being a UV Finalist

Claire Fayers
Claire Fayers (UV 2014)

The thing they don’t tell you about Undiscovered Voices is how it turns your writing life upside down. I’d been writing for a long time before I became a 2014 winner, and I knew the process. You write a novel. You edit the novel. You edit some more. Then you send off queries to some carefully-chosen agents and wait while, one by one, the polite rejection notes come in. Then you repeat.

Yet within days of the Undiscovered Voices 2014 longlist coming out, I had a query from an agent. (Don’t they know how this is supposed to work? I’m supposed to query them, not the other way round.) And when the shortlist was published, it all went a bit mad. Not just agents, but editors – real, live editors who weren’t just having a laugh, but sounded really serious about wanting to read my book.

And this is where I discovered the real strength of Undiscovered Voices – the organisers. Their patience is endless and I couldn’t have managed without their advice and support. Over many phone calls and email exchanges, they never once made me feel like my questions were silly or a waste of time. Everything from what should I wear to the launch party to how on earth do I go about choosing an agent when everyone is so brilliant.

The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers
The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers (US Edition)

The launch party is the most amazing, exhilarating, terrifying experience. Hundreds of agents and publishing people all wanting to talk to you about your book. And once again, the organisers are on hand to steer you towards the right people and make sure you’re never left standing on the side-line. As someone who has spent every party ever standing on the side-line, this was something new.

I came away from the launch part with multiple offers of representation and spent weeks agonising over a decision before signing with Gemma Cooper of the Bent Agency. It still hadn’t occurred to me that my book might actually sell, but this is what happened here.

Less than a month after going on submission, my book sold at auction in a transatlantic deal. Not just the first book, but two more books that I hadn’t even written yet.

Almost exactly one year after the UV2014 longlist came out, I gave up work to write full-time.

The Accidental Pirates: Voyage to Magical North will be published by Macmillan in the US on the 5th July and the UK on the 14th July this year. Book two will be out in 2017.

My advice to the 2016 finalists is: celebrate, keep writing, ask all the questions you want and take your time with everything. Enjoy the magical adventure.

Undiscovered Voices 2016 Featured Writers and Illustrators Announced

SCBWI Announces Writers and Illustrators to Be Featured in Undiscovered Voices 2016. 

Anthology has proven a successful path to publication for many writers and illustrators

UV2016_front coverTwelve promising writers and nine aspiring illustrators – all unagented and unpublished – were selected from hundreds of submissions to be included in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) anthology, titled Undiscovered Voices 2016. The anthology is available to download for free at www.undiscoveredvoices.com.

“We are thrilled to once again showcase so many new voices from amongst SCBWI British Isles and Europe,” said Natascha Biebow, Regional Advisor (Chair) of the SCBWI in the British Isles. “We are confident that they won’t stay undiscovered for very long!”

The anthology features twelve 4,000-word extracts of novels written for children alongside nine black and white illustrations. SCBWI congratulates the following authors and illustrators whose work will be included in the 2016 anthology:

Relly Annett-Baker The Unwilling Goddess London
Georgia Bowers Clopwyck River Bedford
Anna Bowles Steel Tanya London
Susan Brownrigg Girl Churns Up Trouble Skelmersdale
Patti Buff Requiem Germany
Sophie Cameron Out of the Blue Edinburgh
Kerry Cassidy Secret Magic: The Thread Fairy Adventures Malvern
Rose Margaret Deniz The Evolution of You and Me Turkey
Emma Dowson The Chinatown Cat New Malden
Lucy Farfort Illustrator Newcastle
Esther Garcia Peces Illustrator Spain
Simon James Green Nuts London
Mary Hays Illustrator Cambridge
Andrea Ipaktchi Illustrator France
Catherine Miller The Hunt Is On London
John Morgan Illustrator Winchester
Heather Newton Spyders: Flash & the Cagey Bees London
Deborah Partington Illustrator Runcorn
Portia Rosenberg Illustrator Cambridge
Bing Wang Illustrator Netherlands
Katie Weymouth Illustrator Liverpool

From the four previous anthologies, published in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014, 32 of the selected authors and illustrators have received publishing contracts for more than 120 books. These authors have been nominated for and won an amazing array of literary prizes: including the Blue Peter Awards, the Carnegie Medal, the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize, the Branford Boase Award and regional awards such as the Bedfordshire Children’s Book of the Year.

“The success of the first four anthologies is a testament to the high calibre of author and illustrator members in SCBWI,” Biebow said. “It’s really exciting to have works featured in previous anthologies snap up publishing deals and win major prizes. We hope that both the writers and illustrators in Undiscovered Voices 2016 will have similar success.”

The Undiscovered Voices anthology will be distributed to editors, literary agents, art directors and illustration agents focusing on children’s literature. The anthology includes an introduction from the honorary chair, award-winning children’s author and illustrator Sally Gardner.

“This anthology shines a spotlight on writers and illustrators with the potential to create books that will excite young readers everywhere,” said Tioka Tokedira, UV coordinator for SCBWI in the EU.

The stories and illustrations were submitted anonymously and selected by a distinguished panel of industry experts:

  • Jon Appleton, Hodder
  • Ali Ardington, Stripes Publishing
  • Ed Burns, Advocate Art Agency
  • Barry Cunningham, Chicken House
  • Sheri Gee, Folio Society
  • Jodie Hodges, United Agents
  • Rachel Mann, Simon and Schuster
  • Polly Nolan, The Greenhouse Literary Agency
  • Anna Power, Johnson & Alcock
  • Kate Shaw, The Viney Agency
  • Will Steele, Faber and Faber
  • Caroline Walsh, David Higham Associates

Because the anthology is also designed to be a learning tool for up-and-coming children’s writers and artists, quotes from the judges – discussing the merits of each piece – are included at the end of each illustration and extract.

Working Partners Ltd, a London-based company that creates series fiction for children and teens, provided the financial support to make this and the previous four anthologies possible.

“Working Partners is delighted to sponsor this wonderful project which helps writers and illustrators seeking to grow,” said Chris Snowdon, Managing Director, Working Partners Ltd.



The SCBWI is a network for the exchange of knowledge among writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers and others involved with literature for young people. SCBWI boasts more than 22,000 members worldwide in more than seventy regions, making it the largest children’s writing organization in the world. Through our events and resources, the SCBWI British Isles region aims to help writers and illustrators develop their craft. Find out more about SCBWI at www.britishisles.scbwi.org. To find out more about Undiscovered Voices visit: www.undiscoveredvoices.com.