The first 1,000 words Novel Competition

Closing date: 31 November 2020

Judge: Chris Curran

First prize: £100 and Hastings Writers Room trophy

Runner up: £50

Both prize winners will also receive a signed copy of The Guesthouse.

The opening passages of any novel are perhaps the most important for the whole of the book: they need to be memorable, striking, able to draw in your reader and propel them forward eagerly into the following chapters. Your first 1,000 words should show your skill as a writer but also as a storyteller, potentially even as a best seller! Competition Judge and author Chris Curran will be looking for a gripping first page: one which sets the scene for a tour de force of psychological or crime fiction, or gothic horror.

Entry Fee: £7

Full details and entry

About the Judge

Chris Curran is the author of five crime novels published by Harper Collins. Her first four books are psychological thrillers and critics have called them ‘compelling.’ ‘truly gripping,’ (Sunday Express) ‘cinematic and well-constructed’. Her most recent, ALL THE LITTLE LIES, is ‘a perfectly wrought psychological drama … a film maker’s dream.’ (Bookmuse)

Chris loves gothic fiction and is not averse to a smattering of horror. Since 2020 she has also written as Abbie Frost. THE GUESTHOUSE has been described as ‘A classic remote house mystery’. The Sun called it ‘addictive’; The Daily Mail ‘addictive and fun’, The Courier, ‘a scintillating read.’

Follow Chris/Abbie on Twitter: @FrostyAbbie


Poetry Competition

Closing date: 31 October 2020

Judge: John McCullough

First prize: £100 and a signed copy of John McCullough’s poetry collection Reckless Paper Birds.

Runner up: £50 and a signed copy of John McCullough’s poetry collection Reckless Paper Birds.

Entry Fee: £6 for one poem, £10 for two (see below).

The competition is open-themed, maximum 40 lines.

Full details and entry

About the Judge

John McCullough lives in Hove. His first collection of poems, The Frost Fairs (Salt), won the Polari First Book Prize in 2012 and was a Book of the Year for The Independent. This was followed by Spacecraft (Penned in the Margins, 2016) which was a summer read in The Guardian and shortlisted for the Ledbury-Forte prize. His latest book of poems, Reckless Paper Birds (Penned in the Margins, 2019) was recently shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award. The judges said “This collection – hilarious, harrowing and hyper-modern – offers a startlingly fresh insight into vulnerability and suffering.” 

Reckless Paper Birds has also won the 2020 Hawthornden prize for literature, awarded for overall best UK book of the year, against strong competition from many excellent novels, biographies and other poetry collections. Previous winners of the Hawthornden Prize include Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, Geoffrey Hill, Ali Smith and Alice Oswald. The prize of £15,000 was awarded by unanimous decision between the five judges, who praised the collection’s “originality and boldness”.