We're delighted to share this year's Discoveries Prize longlist, comprised of 16 novels-in-progress from unpublished women writers currently residing in the UK and Ireland. Over 2,500 women submitted their works of fiction to Discoveries (up from 2,300 in 2021). We were extremely impressed by the quality of work submitted and would like to thank all of the amazing writers who shared their work with us.
The longlisted titles have been selected by the Chair of judges Kate Mosse, international bestselling novelist and Founder Director of the Women’s Prize, and her judging panel: esteemed writers Ayisha Malik and Irenosen Okojie, Curtis Brown literary agent Lucy Morris, and Anna Davis, Founder and MD of Curtis Brown Creative.
Chair of judges Kate Mosse says: 'This is our second year of Discoveries, and we were thrilled by the quality of submissions, the ambition of the writers, the diverse and exciting range of stories, writing styles and inspirations. Most of all, we had the sense that women up and down the country were taking up their pens and allowing their imaginations to take flight. All of these authors have an exciting journey ahead of them and we can't wait to see how each of these novels progresses in the months, years, to come.'
Sui Annukka, Thursday
Of Sri Lankan heritage, Sui Annukka grew up in London and Colombo. Sui read Drama at the University of Bristol, and later studied Production Design at the National Film and Television School. She left her career in film art direction to spend more time on her writing.
Sui has had poetry and short fiction published in the following anthologies: Filigree: Contemporary Black British Poetry (Peepal Tree, 2018), Shots in the Dark (Crocus Books, 2018), Sounds Exceeding 80 Decibels (Crocus Books, 2017) and Elevator Fiction (Crocus Books, 2016). She was a participant of Manchester Commonword’s Women in the Spotlight Programme, and an Eclipse Theatre SLATE supported artist.
Sui is a proud Aunty to the best niece in the world. She currently lives in Hounslow and works as a Teaching Assistant in a High School.
Rachel Brown, Shadow Dance
Rachel Brown grew up in a small seaside town in Lancashire. She studied English Language & Literature at the University of Leeds before spending the rest of her twenties working in publishing in Bradford, London and the Caribbean. Following a career change she currently helps students create ideas for start-ups at the University of Greenwich. She wrote her first short stories at university, but it was the long lockdown days of making friends with squirrels in the garden that prompted her to start writing her first novel. Set in two of her favourite locations, London and Ibiza, the novel tells a love story in reverse, exploring the triggers that can throw lives, relationships and careers off course.
Nancy Crane, The Most Beautiful Woman in the World
Nancy Crane is an actor, originally from California, who came to London when she was eighteen to train at the Central School of Speech and Drama. The plan was to return to California three years later, but three decades on she’s still here. She works across theatre, TV, film, radio and narrates the odd audiobook. The novel she’s writing, The Most Beautiful Woman in the World, has allowed her to watch lots of old movies and read books about old Hollywood and call it ‘research’. She lives with her wife in London.
Photo by Luce Newman Williams.
Sadbh Kellett, Hunt the Hare
Sadbh is an Irish writer and poet from Meath whose work has been featured as part of Ireland’s Culture Night 2021, at the Out of Orbit visual arts festival, and in anthologies and journals. Sadbh is also a PhD student researching Gaelic Mythology in modern Irish and Scottish Literature at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Previously, she also studied at Trinity College Dublin. Sadbh’s novel is inspired by her Meath surroundings and medieval Irish literature.
Nikki Logan, The Last Card in the Suit
Nikki Logan is currently writing her first novel having taken part in several online creative writing workshops during and since lockdown. She has a degree in photography and has been a commercial writer for 13 years with articles published in regional magazines, newspapers and trade publications.
The idea for her novel was inspired by her grandfather’s experience of life as a British West Indian in 1940s Jamaica and Deep South USA before moving to England in 1950. She began recording his life story nearly ten years ago and has immersed herself in research ever since.
Nikki enjoys reading character-driven novels. She believes fiction is a powerful tool to entertain as well as inform and influence social empathy, changing the way people see the world.
She lives in Suffolk with her husband, two sons and labradoodle.
Nell McGrath, The Story Library of the Saints
Nell McGrath lives on the Northumberland coast and has an MA in Creative Writing from Northumbria University. She works full time as a GP in an NHS Urgent Treatment Centre, and has three young, football-obsessed boys to keep up with! Writing time can be limited, but she likes to work in cafes and during spare moments. She once won a trip to New York in a short story competition, a feat that has sadly not been repeated!
Rebecca Taylor McKay, Man & Wife
Rebecca was born in West Yorkshire and has a diploma in nursing from Manchester Metropolitan University. She worked as a nurse in the NHS for several years and later as a librarian in public libraries and is now a freelance copywriter. Rebecca has no formal writing qualifications but is a bona fide bookworm who has been escaping into fictional worlds for as long as she can remember and writing her own stories ever since she could hold a pen. She was runner-up in Theatre Cloud’s Gothic Fiction Contest in 2017 and was longlisted in the Penguin Michael Joseph Love Story Competition in 2021. Rebecca lives in Lancashire with her husband and two children and her dog.
Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin, The Next Life
Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is an Irish writer. She lived in London for eight years, working in journalism and social justice communications. Her stories, essays and articles have appeared in Gutter, the New Statesman, The Millions, Sexualities and other publications. She now lives in Edinburgh.
Zoe Norridge, Unsure
Zoe Norridge is a Reader (Associate Professor)in African and Comparative Literature and Visual Cultures at King’s College London. She specialises in writing, photography and film about the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Collaborating with Rwandan artists and survivors has consistently led her into new fields. She’s convened photography and writing workshops, co-curated the 2014 exhibition Rwanda in Photographs, programmed events for Kigali Photo Fest and presented two BBC Radio documentaries on rebuilding and the arts in Rwanda.
In 2019 Zoe’s translation of Yolande Mukagasana’s genocide survivor testimony Not My Time to Die was published by Huza Press. Working with Mukagasana introduced her to crafting dialogue and sparked a need to write herself. Zoe started her novel Unsure at an Arvon course in July 2021, and is currently taking the Faber Writing a Novel course with Nikesh Shukla. She’s nearly finished the first draft and is looking for a better title.
Zoe lives in Lewisham with her husband and children.
Claire O'Connor, The Roof of the World
Claire O’Connor is an educator who has worked with students of many ages in the US, Morocco, Malaysia, Greece, South Africa, and Scotland. Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming in New Writing Scotland, the Baltimore Review, the Southern Indiana Review, Shenandoah, Wigleaf, and others. Her story 'Home from the Wars' was a 2022 Best of the Net Finalist in Fiction, and an excerpt from her novel-in-progress previously won The Missouri Review’s Miller Audio Prize for Prose. She lives with her wife in Scotland and various other parts of the world.
Katy Oglethorpe, Stitches
Katy is writing her first novel, at the same time as expecting her first baby. She grew up in London and continues to live there with her partner and two chickens, Dorell and Kelly-An. Her day job is doing communications for a think tank, where she enjoys trying to make clever people's thoughts more intelligible.
Tara O'Sullivan, In the Quiet
Tara O’Sullivan is based in London, although she grew up in Cornwall, where her first novel is set. She is a fan of punk rock and horror films, and enjoys exploring darker themes in her writing. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Exeter, and when she isn’t working on her own writing, she edits other people’s books as a freelance editor and proofreader.
Jude Reid, Dead Spaces
Jude lives in Glasgow and writes dark stories in the narrow gaps between full time work as a surgeon, chasing her kids and trying to tire out a border collie.
Her short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Haunted Voices: An Anthology of Gothic Storytelling from Scotland (Haunt Publishing), Places We Fear To Tread (Cemetery Gates Media) and The Accursed (Black Library).
In 2021 she was commissioned by the National Library of Scotland to write a short story to form part of its Fresh Ink Collection. She was the winner of the Kelpies Prize for Fiction 2020.
In the free time she doesn't have, she likes running, studying ITF Tae Kwon Do and climbing inadvisably big hills. She drinks her tea with oat milk, and you can find her on twitter @squintywitch.
Ruth Rosengarten, Over
Ruth Rosengarten is an artist, bibliophile and recovering art historian who finds herself currently living with her dog in a village in Cambridgeshire. She has also lived in Israel, South Africa, Portugal, Oxford and London. In lockdown, after years of writing about paintings and photographs and installations and objects, her life changed and she wrote a story, and out of that grew Over, which is still being pieced together in fragments that suit her digressive attention and failure to grasp the concepts of plot and genre. She considers collage to be the principle that best describes both her studio practice and her new writing.
Claire Whatley, The Refuge
Claire Whatley lives near Stonehenge in a village on the chalk downland landscape in which her novel, The Refuge is set. Having retired from a career as a librarian, she is currently studying for an MA in English Literature. She is an enthusiastic amateur botanist, environmentalist, gardener and photographer.
Sarah Williams, The Trap
Sarah Williams is a creative writing student at Bath Spa University. This is her first novel. She is a mum of two young children, so when not writing can be found trying to understand the rules of Pokémon, or pretending the floor is lava. She lives in the countryside with her family and the best dog in the world.
All 16 longlisted authors have been invited to attend a bespoke online Discoveries Writing Development course running over two weeks this summer, designed and hosted by Curtis Brown Creative with expert tuition from author Charlotte Mendelson and a pitching session with agents from Curtis Brown.
The Discoveries Prize shortlist of six writers will be announced on Thurs 26 May.
All six shortlisted writers will be offered a mentoring session with a Curtis Brown agent plus free enrolment on a Curtis Brown Creative six-week online course (worth £210).
One promising writer from the shortlist of six will be named the Discoveries Scholar, this writer will win a free scholarship place to attend a three-month Writing Your Novel course with Curtis Brown Creative (worth £1,800).
The winner will be offered representation by Curtis Brown Literary Agency and a cash prize of £5,000, plus have the opportunity to workshop their manuscript with an Audible commissioning editor, who will be specifically matched to their writing style and genre.