I was talking to a friend today who I was delighted to see had been selected as one of the finalists in this year’s Irish Writer’s Centre Novel Fair. I was commenting on how it was a fantastic oppportunity and an event that has spawned some great publishing deals and some memorable books.
Back when the Novel Fair began, in my previous guise as an agent, I attended and knew that there were some great books about to emerge. What particularly stood out for me at the time was Niamh Boyce’s The Herbalist, a fantastic read and one that really made me take notice. Sadly at that time I wasn’t able to take on any of the writers, but luckily many made great connections with agents and publishers and are making their mark.
The Novel Fair is yet another brilliant idea from the IWC who, in my humble opinion, have developed in ways unimaginable since they lost Arts Council Funding in 2009. Instead of taking the hit lying down, they hoisted up their socks, got to work and are now an incredible organisation that are really operating at the heart of Irish writing.
The Novel Fair was established to help first time writers meet industry professionals face-to-face and pitch their books to them. It’s the ultimate meet and great for writers seeking publication; giving novelists the opportunity to bypass the slush pile, pitch their ideas and place their synopsis and sample chapters directly into the hands of publishers and agents.
Hundreds now enter each year in a bid to win this opportunity. A judging panel of experienced industry professionals select a shortlist of successful entries, presented to them anonymously. There is no limitation on style, genre, or target market, the only requirement being that the writer has not published a novel before.
Twelve aspiring novelists have been selected from almost 260 applicants to participate in the Novel Fair 2017, which will take place on Saturday 18 February 2017.
The judging panel, who have remained anonymous up until today, can now be revealed as writer and editor Anthony Glavin, playwright and novelist John MacKenna and writer, producer and broadcaster, Nadine O’Regan.
Congratulations to this year’s winners who have been named as:
There is a diverse range of genres across the novels including literary fiction, science fiction, crime, YA and dystopian fiction and a psychological thriller. The 2017 finalists are also skilled in other forms of writing with a poet, a journalist and a memoir writer in the mix and a former winner who will be trying his luck a second time round at the Fair.
Ahead of the Fair, the finalists took part in a Prep Day on Saturday 4 February to hone their skills, practice their pitches and gain expert advice from this year’s judging panel, while former winner Kevin Curran who has released two novels since his win, Citizens and Beatsploitation (Liberties Press), will be offering a winner’s insight.
Best of luck to all the finalists (and particularly to my talented friend, she knows who she is!).