Text Box:    Novel Opening Chapter & Synopsis Competition 2019

The results of the 2019 Novel Opening Chapter & Synopsis Category are as follows:

 

Winner: Cabbage Island by Matthew Ross

Runner-up: Ten Virtuous Acts by Sandra Jensen

 

 

Judge’s Report from Headline Publishing

 

Cabbage Island: The feedback I received from my colleagues on Cabbage Island was glowing. I have subsequently read it and completely agree with their comments. For all of us, it was the clear winner.

The synopsis does exactly what it should; it’s well-thought out and contains just enough detail that the reader is left eager to continue reading. Crucially, the characters that the author introduces in the synopsis are colourfully brought to life throughout the opening chapter and the quality of writing certainly delivers on the promise of the synopsis.

We also wanted to draw attention to the fantastic sense of place that the author manages to conjure up through the atmospheric and vivid descriptions of the bridges and the island – we were very impressed. Overall, the drama of the opening scene makes for a compelling, tense and exciting read with plenty of twists and turns, thus immediately drawing the reader into its clutches and leaving you wanting to know how it progresses.

Ten Virtuous Acts: We have chosen this as the runner-up for a number of reasons. For starters, the author’s characterisation is convincing and the voice strong throughout. This particularly applies to the central character, Helen, whose flaws (namely, her stealing addiction) elevate, and add important layers to, her character.

Sense of place was well-executed, with a true-to-life portrayal of London grounding it and the idea of using the Sri Lankan civil war as a setting makes it feel original.

Much like Cabbage Island, the opening chapter of Ten Virtuous Acts was incredibly compelling and, at the same time, powerful, shocking and chilling – I don’t think any of us was expecting it! We were all interested to find out how Helen manages to channel the trauma of rape to positively impact and influence her life, and others, going forward.

I am sure the author is careful around this subject in the rest of the novel, but it is important to mention that an issue of this scale and sensitivity should be addressed and dealt with delicately. Whilst, for the most part, the author writes well, we felt that the writing in Cabbage Island was slightly more elevated than it was in Ten Virtuous Acts and that the dialogue would benefit from a little refining and tidying up to lift and take the novel where it needs to go.

 

Short list in alphabetical order

A Train on a Beach by Jamie D Stacey

Blind by Averil Meehan

Cabbage Island by Matthew Ross

Death Of A Painter by Matthew Ross

Golden Tesserae by Elizabeth Willcox

Macy After Midnight by Donna Marchetti

Ten Virtuous Acts by Sandra Jensen

The Black Sword by Donna Brown

The Downfall by Laure Van Rensburg

The Edge of Hate by L.B. McLeod

The Lush of Rona by Sharon Boyle

The Other Side of Heaven by Tracy Fells

The Violent Hour by Sarah Dawson

Thickened with Blood by Kieran Marsh

Tom and the Crimson Cat by Valerie Thompson

 

Long list in alphabetical order

1666 by Sean Dooley

A Calamity of Waters by Chloe Turner

A Pair of Blue Butterflies by Claire Whatley

A Train on a Beach by Jamie D Stacey

An Honest Review by Tessa Barrie

And The Walls Came Tumbling Down by Anna Korving

Anthony ‘Bag of Noodles’ and the Sticky Grenade by Ian Johnson

Blind by Averil Meehan

Cabbage Island by Matthew Ross

Corruption Contagion by Helen Larder

Darkness in Velez-Malaga by Paul S. Bradley

Death Of A Painter by Matthew Ross

Eldritch by Jasmina Svenne

Even Gods Are Blind by Zoe Walker

Finnegan Begins Again by Stephen Brown

Flying Down Blake Street by Joanne Clague

Game On by Colin Brezicki

Golden Tesserae by Elizabeth Willcox

Hidden by Kathy Cuddihy

I Don't Want to Hear It Anymore by Gill Darling

Just Being There by Cassandra Leighton

Lost Behind Words by Tabitha Forney

Macy After Midnight by Donna Marchetti

Meroughsey by Marilyn Thompson

Middle Cut by David G. Gibson

Not Over Yet by Mike Padgett

Outliving Her Past by Rachel Carrington

Rogue Prey by Nik Morton

Safe Harbours by Kathy Cuddihy

Silent as the Snow by Emily Pattullo

Silent Was Our Song by Nathalie Chong

Ten Virtuous Acts by Sandra Jensen

The Black Sword by Donna Brown

The Cage by David Fenton

The Downfall by Laure Van Rensburg

The Echo Chamber by Rod Cookson

The Edge of Hate by L.B. McLeod

The Fourth Prince by Donna Brown

The Ghosts of Tumbledown by Sally Doherty

The Glass House by Jody R Cooksley

The Lush of Rona by Sharon Boyle

The Mothers by Nollaig Frost

The Other Side of Heaven by Tracy Fells

The Palimpsest by Michael Coram

The Time That Magic Took by Lucy Caird

The Violent Hour by Sarah Dawson

Thickened with Blood by Kieran Marsh

Tom and the Crimson Cat by Valerie Thompson

What We Learnt At Number Nine by Rebekah Heaney

Wild by Deborah Tomkins