Writing Magazine


Book Club for Hazel

by Tina Jackson

Longtime subscriber Hazel Prior’s second novel, Away With The Penguins, has been chosen for Richard and Judy’s Book Club

I have to keep pinching myself,’ said Hazel. ‘This has been a marvellous boost and it’s a real privilege to have my book picked out of all the thousands. I was given a private Zoom meeting with Richard and Judy, who chose the novel themselves from a final shortlist. I introduced them to my feline writing companion, Purrsy (who wasn’t impressed and promptly fell asleep) and we chatted about Exmoor, books, and of course, penguins!’

Hazel’s debut novel, Ellie And The Harp Maker, only came out last year. ‘Inspired partly by the fact that I had a two-book deal with Penguin and partly by a friend’s marvellous penguin photographs, I decided to write my second novel based around these fascinating birds,’ she said.

Away With The Penguins tells the story of feisty octogenarian millionairess, Veronica McCreedy, and her adventures in Antarctica. ‘A small group of scientists and the penguins they study lead to a thawing of Veronica’s hardened heart,’ explained Hazel. ‘It is a fun, uplifting read but also addresses serious issues about climate change, ageing, and the importance of family and community. It’s a story full of hope. I want my writing to say something important, but also to entertain readers and help them feel better about life. I always turn to books myself during hard times and when I started writing I decided that I’d try to put something life-affirming out there. That has become more important than ever during these worrying times.’

Writing Magazine has been pivotal in Hazel’s path to publication success. ‘My writing journey began in 2014 when an acquaintance lent me her Writing Magazine and I entered a short story competition that was entitled Win Your Way To Swanwick,’ she said. ‘To my immense surprise and delight, my story came first. I won a free week at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, learned oh-so-much and made wonderful friends who have supported me through all the writing ups and downs – and there have been many!’

Away With The Penguins was selected as a BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick earlier this year. ‘I had a conversation live on air with Jo Whiley in April. Richard and Judy’s Book Club is run by WHSmith, so Away With The Penguins will now be stocked in all the branches of Smiths up and down the country as well as in Waterstones and other bookshops.’

Hazel hopes her writing adventures will inspire other writers. ‘From browsing the pages of Writing Magazine that first time to getting published and now this lovely surprise, my writing life has been a real adventure. I hope your subscribers will realise that if I can do it, so can they.’

Website: www.hazeltheharpist.co.uk

Join the nine dots

The best entry for the Nine Dots Prize competition for creative thinking wins $100,000 and a publication deal.

The Nine Dots Prize was set up to provoke creative thinking that tackles issues in contemporary society.

To enter, send a 3,000 word essay responding to this year’s question: What does it mean to be young in an ageing world? Also submit an outline structure for the proposed book and a statement of your ability to complete it in seven months.

The winner will receive $100,000 to write a short book expanding on their ideas. The book will be published by Cambridge University Press, who will offer editorial support and assistance to the winning writer.

Last year’s winner was freelance writer Annie Zaidi, whose Bread, Cement, Cactus, was published in May.

Entry is free. The submission deadline is 18 January 2021. Website: https://ninedotsprize.org/

A blank page for poets

The White Review Poet’s Prize 2020 is open for entries. The prize is £2,500 for a portfolio of 5-10 poems in the competition for poets creating a debut pamphlet or collection.

For the first time, the Poet’s Prize, which was set up in 2017 with support from the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, will run in partnership with new independent film and publishing imprint Cheerio, which represents the Estate of Francis Bacon. As a result, the prize money has increased to £2,500.

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