Meet the Judges

We are very grateful to our amazing panel of judges who are so generously volunteering their time. We have a great mix of writers, poets, publishers and book reviewers. The criteria they will be marking entries on include originality, imagery, and reflection of the theme, among other things. We will be interviewing the judges over the coming months on the blog. In the meantime, find out more about them below.

Short Stories (Adults):

Author PAUL EWEN was born in New Zealand and lives in London. His first book, London Pub Reviews, was called ‘a cross between Blade Runner and Coronation Street’ (Waterstones). His first novel, Francis Plug: How To Be A Public Author, was a Book of the Year in the Guardian, New Statesman, Irish Times, and the Big Issue. The Sunday Times described it as: ‘Inspired. A brilliant, deranged new comic creation’ and the New Statesman called it ‘a modern comic masterpiece.’Paul was runner-up in the Society of Authors McKitterick Prize in 2015 and longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize in the same year. His latest novel will be published by Galley Beggar Press in September 2018.

Twitter: @GalleyBeggars

Author K.A. MCKEAGNEY completed a Masters degree in creative writing at Brunel. She won the Curtis Brown prize for her dissertation, which formed the basis of her first novel Tubing.

Tubing has been described as “A highly original thriller with a fantastic hook! … a gripping and racy read, with plenty of shocks to be had along the journey. I tore through the final pages with my breath held. I will never be able to travel the tube again without thinking about this novel…” (Sam Carrington).

She is currently working on her second novel.

DAMHNAIT MONAGHAN is a Canadian writer who now lives in the UK. She has a Masters in Creative & Critical Writing from Winchester University. Her fiction and creative non-fiction have featured in a variety of anthologies including Flash Nonfiction Funny (Woodhall Press), Flash I Love You (Paper Swans), EllipsisZine One and Hysteria 4. She is published in print and online in Jellyfish Review, Understorey Magazine, Still Point Arts Quarterly, The Fiction Pool, Flash Frontier, Brilliant Flash Fiction and elsewhere. She reads for the literary journal FlashBack Fiction and was a judge for the Hysteria Writing Competition last year.

Twitter: @downith

PADRAIC WALSH is a fiction writer, playwright and screenwriter. He is a winner of the Walter Swan Trust Playwriting Award. Last year Padraic’s play, Foxes, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and shortlisted for Best Original Audio Drama at the 2018 BBC Audio Drama Awards. His fiction has appeared in The Stinging Fly and Cyphers. Born and raised in County Mayo, Ireland, he is now based in London.

Find more about Padraic here.
Twitter: @Walsh_Padraic

Short Stories (Children’s):

MAISIE CHAN is a Birmingham-born writer of children’s books and short stories now based in Glasgow. She has taught creative writing to writers aged between 8 and 65 years old. She is currently working with the Human Values Foundation on writing inclusive stories for 7-12 year olds about being good people and looking after ourselves. Maisie also enjoys writing about older people. She was responsible for her father for many years who suffered from parkinson’s disease, dementia and mental health disorders such as depression and bi-polar disorder. Many of her stories have involved older people facing loneliness and isolation.
In her spare time she loves singing karaoke, eating dim sum and chips and doing yoga. Her favourite children’s book was The Very Hungry Caterpillar because it became a beautiful butterfly.

Check out Maisie’s website.
Twitter: @MaisieWrites

Belfast-born JACKIE LAW is a prolific book blogger reviewing books, interviewing authors and writing about literary events for her personal blog, Never Imitate. She has contributed to numerous online ‘zines and is a regular reviewer at Bookmunch. She is also a Top 1% Reviewer on Goodreads. Jackie was recently a judge for the prestigious Republic of Consciousness Prize which recognizes innovative indie publishers and their writers. She now lives in rural Wiltshire with her husband and small flock of back garden hens.

Check out Jackie’s website
Twitter: @followthehens

EMILY THOMAS has commissioned and edited fiction and non-fiction for teenagers and adults. She started her career at Andre Deutsch Children’s Books and moved to Scholastic, Kingsfisher, Hodder Children’s Books (Hachette), Bonnier’s children’s books trade list Hot Key Books, and Bonnier/Blink as a publisher of narrative adult non-fiction.

Emily established and judged the Hot Key Prize for debut writers of middle-grade through to YA and crossover fiction. She has twice been shortlisted and in 2015 jointly won the Branford Boase Prize with author Rosie Rowell, awarded to both editor and author of outstanding fiction. She has also been a mentor at the Winchester Writing Conference and has freelance edited adult fiction and non-fiction for One World and Little Brown Book. She is the author of five novels, four under a pseudonym and one under her own name which will be published in July 2018.

NIKKI YOUNG is an author on a mission to get children writing. She is the owner of Storymakers, a creative writing club for children aged 7+. She has written two children’s books: The Mystery of the Disappearing Underpants, published last year, and book one of the Time School series which is due out this July.

Check out Nikki’s website.
Twitter: @nikki_cyoung
Facebook and Instagram: @Nikkiyoungwriter
Additional Instagram: @storymakerswritingclub


KEVIN HIGGINS has been described as ‘Likely the most widely read living poet in Ireland’ by The Stinging Fly magazine. He has published five collections with Salmon Poetry, the West of Ireland’s largest literary publisher, most recently Song of Songs 2.0: New & Selected Poems. He co-organises Over The Edge literary events in Galway, Ireland, and is Creative Writing Director for the National University of Ireland – Galway Summer School. His poetry is discussed in The Cambridge Introduction to Modern Irish Poetry and features in the generation-defining anthology, Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets. Kevin’s poetry has been translated into Greek, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Serbian, Russian, & Portuguese. He was Satirist-in-Residence at the Bogman’s Cannon and The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins was published by NuaScéalta in 2016. He is poetry critic for The Galway Advertiser.

Twitter: @KevinHIpoet1967

ALAN (Kurly) McGEACHIE is a shortlisted Birmingham Poet Laureate and Hip Hop artist. He visits schools, PRUs and youth/community settings throughout the UK as a freelance literacy engagement specialist. Each year he helps thousands of children to read, write and perform poetry and rap with confidence – helping learners engage with the curriculum whilst boosting their literacy confidence. Kurly has delivered workshops on behalf of many organisations such as Womens Aid, UNICEF, Writing West Midlands and British Council to name a few and previously taught English and Citizenship in a Pupil Referral Unit – whilst also supporting pupil’s reintegration back into mainstream school.

Check out Kurly’s wesbite here.

CORINA MOSCOVICH is a poet, novelist and translator from Argentina. She is also a freelance journalist and blogger, and coordinates a Multicultural Creative Writing Workshop at the University of Luxembourg. She lives in Luxembourg and has also lived and worked in England, the United States and South Africa. In Argentina and abroad, she has participated in different writing and reading groups and collective and individual exhibitions of poetry and short stories. She is regularly invited to artistic events and has previously been involved in Arts Fest in Birmingham, England. She is a published author of Ser de Sangre and Vía Remington and her poems are featured in various poetry anthologies.

Check out Corina’s blog here.
Twitter: @MoscovichCorina

COLIN DARDIS is a poet, editor, arts coordinator and creative writing tutor based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was one of Eyewear Publishing’s Best New British and Irish Poets 2016. His poetry collection, the x of y, is out in May 2018.
Known for his devotion to supporting Northern Irish poets, Colin co-runs Poetry NI and launched the Make Yourself Heard open mic nights in Belfast at a time when the city had no live poetry scene to speak of outside of the universities, and very few platforms for poets to engage in and showcase their work. His poetry has been published widely throughout Ireland, the UK and USA.

Check out Colin’s website here.
Twitter: @purelypoetry

Competition Organiser

BECKY DANKS is a creative writer, book reviewer and blogger. She is a winner of City Writes London and was shortlisted for the Verve Poetry Festival prize. She writes literary fiction and poetry reviews, author interviews and event features for the Contemporary Small Press at the University of Westminster, and was a judge of last year’s Hysteria Writing Competition.

Becky is helping to organise this competition and co-writing a history of the charity with its Chair, Katharine St John-Brooks.

Visit her website here.
Twitter: @BeckyD123