TLC Pen Factor 2021 Announcement

March 16, 2021 | Other News

The TLC Pen Factor Writing Competition, a major element of the annual TLC Writers’ Day, has seen a glittering cohort of alumni go on to secure major publishing deals, from Neema Shah (Kololo Hill) to Abi Daré (The Girl with the Louding Voice), Adam Sharp (The Correct Order of Biscuits) and Lizzie Damilola Blackburn (Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?). It has seen alumni grace prize lists, from winning a Costa Prize (Guinevere Glasfurd, The Words in My Hand) to being long listed for the OCM Bocas (Fawzia Kane, Tantie Diablesse). And it has seen them decide to take creative control, self-publishing works that needed to speak unfettered, as with the powerful memoir Is It About That Boy? by Jeremy Gavins.

The 2021 longlist, shortlist, and winner were declared live at the first Online Writers’ Day, held Saturday 13th March. We feel sure the 2021 cohort will go on to similar success. We would like to express our gratitude to all 130 writers who entered their work, and to our industry judges Davinia Andrew-Lynch (ANDLYN), Hattie Grünewald (The Blair Partnership), Leslie Gardner (Artellus), and Ailah Ahmed (Little, Brown). Here is the judges’ statement:

“This year’s finalists showcased an enormous amount of talent. We had the pleasure of being transported through time, across a breadth of genres (including near-future sci-fi, experimental literary fiction, and women’s commercial fiction), whilst tackling big themes like loneliness, mortality, mental health, and infertility. The potential of this group of authors was exciting, but the standard of their storytelling made for a hugely difficult decision. However, it soon became clear that one of these authors’ assured and accomplished writing style could not be ignored. Combined with a plot that wasthoroughly intriguing, a setting in a time and place that was unexpected, and characters who immediately caught the judges’ attention, we soon realised there was one natural winner. Jill Dobson is absolutely a writer to watch.”

Jill Dobson wins a prize package worth over £2,000, including professional editorial feedback from TLC, and development opportunities with Prize partners Spread the Word, the Royal Society of Literature, Arvon, Writing Magazine, and CreateThinkDo. In due course, we will be creating a special TLC Pen Factor Showcase, with short excerpts from the winner and shortlisted authors’ work. Our congratulations to the writers listed here, and to all who entered; it is a mark of courage to submit work to a competition, and we wish you all the best with your projects.

The Winner

Jill Dobson – The Woman in the House Next Door

The Shortlist

Miriam Balanescu – Book of Minutes
Kerry James Clarke – That Time When Everything Was On Fire
Moyette Gibbons  – Disappearing
Jessica Harneyford  – My Enigmatic Rose
Faiza Hasan  – The Ties that Bind Us

Highly Commended

Lerah Mae Barcenilla – The Babaylan Sisterhood
Freya Bromley  – The Retreat
Sheila Chapman – In the Days that Came After
Carol Farrelly – This Starling Flock

The Longlist

Kate Beales – An Innocent Land
Julie Bull – Girls like Us
Hayley Dunning – The Inheritance Game
Shona Ray Ferguson – The Bird that Flew from the Juniper Tree
Janey Harvey  – Is There Anybody There
Lynne Herbert – New Britannia
Julie Holden – Down Came a Blackbird
Kit Jenkin – Go to Your Sorrow
Diane Lemieux – Torn
Jane Mansour – Pockets of Air
Jeffrey Manton – The Duchess of Windsor’s Dog
Sarah Martin – All is Found
Sue Mitchinson – Boy of Seaweed, Girl of Glass
Hannah Mole – Love Me Dead
Polly Roberts – I Remember Less and Less
Eloise Stevens – A Quiet Music
Michelle Walshe – Twenty-eight to Forty: A Memoir