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Harry Potter publisher to judge UCLan’s young writers’ competition

Barry Cunningham to work with University, BBC Radio Lancashire and Waterstones to create new short story competition

Budding young writers are being encouraged to share their best ghostly tales for a creative writing competition judged by the man who discovered Harry Potter writer JK Rowling.

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has teamed up with Waterstones, BBC Radio Lancashire and the Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library to create The Supernatural and Fantastical Short Story Competition. Aimed at 11-18-year-olds with an interest in creative writing, the competition is looking for stories of no more than 500 words that fit into the supernatural and fantasy genres.

It has been organised to celebrate author AJ Hartley touring the UK in July following the successful launch of his book Cold Bath Street, published by the only student-led, student-run publishing house in the world, UCLan Publishing.

Entrants are asked to the use the portrait of Pauline in the Yellow Dress by Sir James Gunn as inspiration for their stories, asking themselves is she plotting something good or evil?

All entries will be judged by Barry Cunningham OBE, Publisher and Managing Director of Chicken House who also signed JK Rowling for Bloomsbury, New York Times best-selling author AJ Hartley, Associate Professor of Publishing and Head of UCLan Publishing Debbie Williams and organiser of the Northern Young Adult Literary Festival Hazel Holmes.

Debbie Williams said: “We are incredibly excited to launch this competition on the back of UCLan’s successful venture with AJ Hartley to publish his gothic thriller Cold Bath Street."

It’s a great opportunity for the next generation of fiction writers to shine and show just how good they are to a stellar line up of judges.

"AJ is currently the number one best-selling author on Amazon, sitting above JK Rowling and James Patterson, and Barry Cunningham is a very well respected expert in the publishing industry so each entrant’s work will be read by some of the very best in the business.”

Although entries don’t have to be ghost stories, they do need to fit into the supernatural and fantasy genres.

Six titles will be shortlisted and announced at an event at the Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library with AJ Hartley and Barry Cunningham on the 18 July.  All six will be published as a collection by UCLan Publishing; three will come from the 11-14-year-old category and the others from the 14-18-year-old category.  The overall winner will be announced at UCLan’s Supernatural and Fantastical in Young Adults event at the next Northern Young Adult Literary Festival on the 21 July and will receive a year’s worth of books.

Anyone interested in entering has until 12noon on Friday 1 June to submit their story. It needs to be attached to a cover sheet inside a sealed envelope and handed it into one of several chosen locations:

Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library
Waterstones, Blackpool
Waterstones, Lancaster
Waterstones, Lancaster Kings St
Waterstones, Preston
Waterstones, Southport
Waterstones, Wigan

The cover sheet can be downloaded online. For more information visit the UCLan Publishing website.


Pauline in the Yellow Dress by Sir James Gunn

Lyndsey Boardman | 04 May 2018