Getting Ready for UV2018 – Guest Blog with Jane Hardstaff

In the third of a series of guest blog by past finalists, Jane Hardstaff, talks about the twisty-turny route to becoming a published author, and almost not entering Undiscovered Voices 2012!

When I was sixteen years old, I had a weekend job as a waitress in a hotel in the small market town where we lived. The hotel restaurant was the place you ate if you were old-school posh. It had a veneer of class (avocado vinaigrette, Dover sole and grouse in season), but underneath it was kind-of seedy with many unpleasant tasks for a waitress. It was my job to pick the flies out of the vinaigrette with a teaspoon. To descend to the creepy cold store, always worried I’d lock myself in. To clean up after the very hairy hotel dog. Every Friday and Saturday night, I’d arrive home stinking of grease and cigar smoke and I guess you could say this was a pretty uninspiring job. I wasn’t being mentored on some amazing internship. I was hiding from the sleazeball barman and developing an addiction to prawn cocktail.

At sixteen years old I had no particular ambition to be a writer. All I knew was I didn’t want to be a waitress. Fast forward a couple of decades. I’d travelled a twisty-turny route through several jobs, discovering along the way that the one thing that made me happy (and also weirdly unhappy) was writing.

If you are wondering (as I did) whether to enter Undiscovered Voices, then you probably should.

What has any of this got to do with Undiscovered Voices? I guess what I want to say is, it can take a long time to find your voice. And it can take just as long to pluck up the courage to get it out there. If you are wondering (as I did) whether to enter Undiscovered Voices, then you probably should. You are probably your own worst critic. Enter, because you have nothing to lose. And if you’re not longlisted, keep going. Write a better book. Write the book only you can write.

It may take half a lifetime to get there, but it will be worth it.


The Executioner's Daughter
The Executioner’s Daughter by Jane Hardstaff

Jane Hardstaff (UV 2012) is the author of The Executioner’s Daughter and River Daughter (published by Egmont UK and Lerner Books USA). Longlisted for the Branford Boase, winner of the Salisbury Schools Book Award and selected for USBBY Outstanding International Books List 2017.


Submissions for UV2018 will open on 1st July 2017 and will close 15th August 2017. Why not sign up here for a reminder when submissions open?

UV Finalists Coming to the Big Screen

The Extincts by Veronica Cossanteli

We’re delighted to hear that UV2012 finalist Veronica Cossanteli is having her book The Extincts adapted into an animated film to be directed by William Joyce. David Lipman (producer of Shrek 2) will adapt the project for the big screen, with Oscar-winning filmmaker and author/illustrator William “Bill” Joyce helming.

You can find out more in this article from the Hollywood Reporter.

Guest Blog: Jane Hardstaff – Believing in the Possible.

Jane Hardstaff 2015Finalist in Undiscovered Voices 2012, author Jane Hardstaff takes a break from writing to share her thoughts about her UV journey…

It was all delightfully anonymous. To begin with anyway. I’d been writing alone, almost in secret, desolate and hopeful at the same time. Loving but sometimes hating my characters and the world I was creating. I’m hardwired to doubt myself. Yet I still believed in the possibility that someone, somewhere, might fall in love with my creation.

So when I heard about Undiscovered Voices, I stalked it for a couple of years, going to talks, wondering about it all, writing my book, thinking should I send it in? Should I? In the end I thought, what do I have to lose? If it ends up in the pile of the unchosen, no one will ever know. It didn’t quite turn out that way.

The Executioner's DaughterThree years later, I’m looking back and shivering with the randomness of it all. What if I hadn’t walked to Kings Cross on the last day of submission, to deliver my MS? What if no one on that panel had been remotely interested in my characters or my story? One of the judges told us that you need one person to really love your writing. One person who will champion your submission, fight tooth and nail against other equally passionate judges. This was my first lesson. It’s all so subjective. What I also observed is how many of the longlisted – who didn’t make the anthology, but had obviously written wonderful books – went on to find agents and publishers.

One of the judges told us that you need one person to really love your writing.

So write the best book you can. Make the best art you can. Then pluck up the courage to send it out into the wide world. Undiscovered Voices is many things – exciting, supportive, competitive – but above all it’s a revelation. While it’s happening you will feel part of something. UV gathers together some amazing people: agents, editors, art directors, designers and organizers – many of whom are writers and illustrators themselves. The publishing world can seem so distant when you’re sitting at your kitchen table at 6am trying to write before you go to work. Undiscovered Voices will scoop you up, lay its treasures before you and help you believe in the possibility that one day your words or pictures might live inside other people’s heads, not just your own.

River Daughter by Jane HardstaffJane Hardstaff’s first novel The Executioner’s Child appeared in the 2012 Undiscovered Voices Anthology. Two months after UV12 was published, she signed with Gillie Russell at Aitken Alexander. Six months later, after much rewriting and a title change, Egmont bought The Executioner’s Daughter. The book and its sequel, River Daughter, were published in 2014 and 2015.