We are thrilled to share the longlist of writers who will be considered for the Undiscovered Voices 2022 anthology.
These talented writers were selected from 270 submissions from SCBWI members in the British Isles and the EU.
Alex Atkinson Alison Clack Andrew James Barny Hobbs Cara Lovelock Catherine Rosevear Colm McGeever Deborah Longstaff Ele Nash Emily Randall Emma Norris Gerry Rush Julie Farrell Karen Walk Katja Kaine Katrina Sansone
Kelly Smith Lucy Sharmila Mohan Mandy Rabin Miriam Craig Natalie Perry Paula Thompson Sarah Broadley Sarah Harrison Sarah Wood Stuart White Sue Cunningham Tom Mann Victoria Benstead-Hume William Dobson Zoe Cookson
The fourteen novel extracts that will be featured in the Undiscovered Voices 2022 anthology will be announced in mid-January.
The Undiscovered Voices team endeavours to create an anthology that showcases the variety of writing available from SCBWI members in the British Isles and the Europe. The goal of the anthology is not only to help the selected authors to find agents and editors, but also to promote the quality of work abounding in SCBWI in Europe.
The stories were considered anonymously and selected by a distinguished panel of industry experts:
Davinia Andrew-Lynch, literary agent and the founder of boutique agency, ANDLYN
Megan Carroll, literary agent at Watson, Little Ltd
Sarah Davies, founder and agent at Greenhouse Literary Agency
Jane Griffiths, editorial director at Penguin Random House Children’s Books
Sarah Levison, senior commissioning editor for fiction at Farshore Books
Yasmin Morrissey, commissioning editor at Scholastic
Jo Williamson, literary agent at Antony Harwood Ltd
In our penultimate guest blog post before submissions close, previous finalist Kathryn Kettle (UV2018), speaks up for the joy of finding your voice and offers valuable shortcuts to finding yours hopefully a little sooner than she found hers. And find it she did as you’ll be able to see in her debut novel, The Boy I Am.
So, what’s this ‘voice’ thing anyway?
The first three books I wrote, I was trying to write. By which I mean, I had an idea what books should sound like in my head, I’d read enough, after all. The few stories I was brave enough to submit went somewhere, but never far enough. Eventually, after working ten years on a book, I couldn’t do it anymore. For a while, I didn’t write, but inevitably I couldn’t leave the itch unscratched.
I returned to write for fun: flash fiction, short stories, fan fiction, and I didn’t write to please anyone but myself. Looking back that’s when it started to happen, I think, when I began to find a voice (*insert choir of triumphant trumpets here*).
Now, don’t get excited… I had NO IDEA I’d achieved this holy-hand grenade of writing goodness until several weeks ago.
After sending early chapters of my second book to my editor, one thing I didn’t expect to hear in return about my second book was, ‘It sounds like you.’
Having been a finalist in the Undiscovered Voices 2018 competition, I must have some kind of ‘voice’ because, after all, that’s what the judges are looking for, but until now I’d attributed it to my main character, his voice.
Hearing my voice
I didn’t think when writing a second, completely different story, with completely different characters, that there would be any similarities. Yet, somehow in the last 10 years, I’ve found a rhythm of my own. After all these years I finally know what ‘voice’ means: being authentic to you, and no one else.
Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself, and exercises to do, to help identify if you’ve nailed ‘voice’…
Are there words that jump out to you or trusted readers that take them out of the story? What makes them jump out? If it’s not something you’re intending, probably think about the word choices.
Are you trying to capture a particular style, can you avoid that and put down the words in a unique way to you? Try different styles, sentence structures, poetry, or humour where you wouldn’t before.
Tell some part of your story out loud in a voice recording app, not as it’s written, but as an anecdote. What do you learn about your way of telling stories in this way? How does it differ from the way you lay it down on the page?
Use your editorial eye to analyse your writing style. Take a few pages from different points across the work. Are there sentences, paragraphs, dialogue, metaphor techniques etc that you use regularly and how/why do you use them?
Look also at your themes, the things you are interested in and the ‘problem’ of the story, are they unique way to you and your writing. How can you make them ‘yours’?
Do some of the above with books in your collection, especially writers lauded for strong voice… can you see what makes them stand out?
Listen to your gut, when you’re laying the words down do they feel unnatural to you in your head, like you’re laying down bricks, not feathers? If so then it may not be a problem of plot, character or description, but one of voice.
Most importantly… write it for yourself not anyone else, not a particular judge, crit buddy, friend, family member. Your edit is when you write it for your reader, but your voice will be in your first draft, the one you write for you.
Made in Birmingham, Kathryn Kettle now lives, works and writes in London. The opening of her debut YA novel, The Boy I am, was shortlisted for the Society of Childrens’ Book Writers and Illustrator (SCBWI British Isles) Undiscovered Voices 2018. She has won competitions and been highly commended for her flash fiction, including being longlisted as part of the 2017 Bath Flash Fiction Award.
When not writing, Kathryn can be found travelling and working around the world transforming business with technology. She is passionate about promoting the role of women as leaders, the value of creativity, and the need for diversity at all levels in STEM and business-based careers.
Kathryn is also the creator of the ‘Book Chain Project’ which you can learn more about here.
Our second guest blog reveals the secret behind the success of three of last year’s finalists. Helen MacKenzie(UV2020), whose extract was Hagstone, illuminates the power of giving and receiving feedback to improve a writer’s chances of success.
The Secret Power of Critique Groups
I used to be scared of critique groups. The thought of showing people my work, let alone getting feedback, was terrifying. I couldn’t do it. So I didn’t. I scribbled alone, telling myself that I was a good writer, that I didn’t need anyone’s help, and that I would make it on my own.
Maybe I would have. I’ll never know. But what I do know is that it wasn’t until I joined a critique group that my writing began to improve – and I started to do well in competitions such as Undiscovered Voices.
I’ve been trying to figure out why this was. It’s because a critique group gives you a circle of people willing to commit time and attention to your writing, your story and your characters. For free.
Ideas to tighten your plot, advice about your voice, reassurance that you’re on the right track: a critique group can give you all of this and more. And yes, they might sometimes tell you things you don’t want to hear – but after a little reflection, you’ll be grateful for it. And your chances of gaining an agent or winning a competition will dramatically improve.
Much of the magic of a critique group also comes from having to critique other people’s work. It’s time consuming but I’ve learnt a huge amount about my own writing from critiquing someone else’s. The number of times I’ve commented on something and then thought, ‘Oh! I do that too…’
And that’s the key. Because most folk in a critique group are just like you: willing to try; scared of criticism; but not afraid to work at becoming a better writer. You learn together. Laugh together. You become friends.
SCBWI has a lot of critiques groups, but I was nervous at first to join one. But the first group I approached was happy for me to come along and observe, and I saw for myself the trust and respect that the members of the group had for one another. It was very reassuring. It taught me that a good critique group will encourage as well as critique. It will give feedback in a positive but useful way, and your confidence and your writing will improve as a result. If it doesn’t, it’s probably not the right critique group for you – try another.
I had no qualms after that initial meeting and joined in properly the next month. In fact, I’m such a convert that I’m now a member of three critique groups, one of which I run. It makes for a lot of reading – and writing – but this is actually another plus. I try to submit different chapters to each group and they’ve been a great way of getting my word count up.
So, if you’re thinking of entering Undiscovered Voices, why not polish up your writing with a critique group first? It won’t hurt. Will definitely help. Because when I entered UV2020, two members of my critique group also entered. We worked together, polishing our submissions and synopses. And guess what?
We all got in.
Helen MacKenzie writes YA, middle grade and the odd picture book. She was included in Undiscovered Voices 2020, received a Scottish Book Trust New Writers’ Award in 2017 and has been shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize, the Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition and longlisted in the Bath Children’s Novel Award. She is a member of SCBWI and runs a SCBWI Scotland YA critique group.
Helen lives near Edinburgh and when she’s not working as a copywriter or entering writing competitions, she’s annoying her family on Zoom.