Front cover of Volume 6 Riptide short story journal

A good yarn and a winning tale

Writers are vying for a position as the next J K Rowling or Philip Pullman after entering a competition organised by the University of Exeter’s short story publication ‘Riptide'.

As part of the inaugural Exeter Children’s Literature Festival EXEtreme Imagination’ the editors of Riptide felt it was a timely opportunity to dip into the rich, diverse and developing area of contemporary fiction by including  a collection of short stories for young adults as the next edition of 'Riptide'.

In order to attract high quality and innovative stories, a competition with a substantial cash prize for the winner was organised. The response was overwhelming, with hundreds of entries which were eventually whittled down to a long list of 30 and then to a short list of ten. 

Volume 6 of Riptide’ will feature the ten winning stories from the short story competition for young adult fiction. The final ten contain tales of budding sexuality, sibling rivalry and strange mutations. They are set variously in rural India, a dystopian alternative reality, 19th century Brooklyn and elsewhere. The stories are written by writers based in Singapore and America as well as in the UK; this mix is indicative of the geographical and thematic diversity of the stories the editors received according to co-editor Ginny Baily. She said ‘What unites them and sets up an echo between them is the youthful nature of all the protagonists struggling to find their path in worlds where adults don’t always hear their voices.’

The final stories were chosen by Philip Hensher whose last novel ‘The Northern Clemency’ was nominated for the Booker Prize in 2008 and whose next ‘King of the Badgers’ is due out in March 2011. He is also a journalist and an associate professor in English at the University of Exeter. Professor Hensher said, ‘I was thrilled with the volume and quality of the entries for the prize. It showed the level and breadth of writing talent today.’

The stories were judged anonymously, but two of the shortlisted authors have already had novels for young adults published. A team of teenagers across Devon and Cornwall also read the short list to make their own choice of winner.

The winners of the overall competition and the young people’s ‘Readers Prize’ will be announced at the launch party starting at 5pm on Tuesday 2 November at the Central Library in Exeter. Alongside the prize-giving, there will be readings by some of the featured writers who will also sign copies of the books, live music and wine. The event is free of charge and open to everyone; if you wish to attend please register with Riptide via email Copies of Riptide are on sale on the website and at selected bookshops.

Date: 1 November 2010

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