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Pulp Idol Novel-Writing Competition

We’re proud as ever to present Pulp Idol Firsts 2020, the first chapters from our twelve talented finalists of this year’s annual Pulp Idol competition.
Kim Wiltshire, winner of this year’s Pulp Idol competition with SAD Day, gives us a moving story of grief and the erosion of trust, rendered all the more shocking by its ordinary setting. A mother comes home from an early morning shift to discover she cannot wake her teenage son; tension builds as the house fills with figures of authority. The taut simplicity of the writing and the sharpness of the dialogue make this a situation every reader will relate to and find harrowing.

The Girl with the Words, by Pulp Idol runner-up Natalie Denny, is a compelling, magical story, with fifteen year old Saphy at the centre of a battle between the Helicon, descended from the Muses of Ancient Greece and The Guild, in a story told with a compassionate, keen voice, that is imaginative, bold and intriguing.
In She Dreams in Colour, Pulp Idol runner-up Lewis Jennings examines attitudes to gender identity and mental health. Cain is 11 when he first tries on a woman’s dress and by adulthood has discovered the liberating effect this can have on him. This first chapter sees him preparing for a night out as alter-ego Cheree, along with sparky companion Paula. However, there is a darker side to the story and, at the end of the evening, trauma to be faced.

Pulp Idol 2020 winners and finalists at the Pulp Idol 

Having launched Pulp Idol in 2006. We identified the need for these new voices to have opportunities to be published and to provide pathways to bring their writing to the attention of mainstream and independent publishers. The quality of the winning entries has led to many successes, including mainstream publishers Hodder and Stoughton offering a two year book deal to one of our previous winners, James Rice, and independent publisher Bluemoose Books signing up finalist Ariel Kahn’s debut novel Raising Sparks, which was published in 2018 to much acclaim and success and achieving runner up in The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize competition after topping the poll to reach the shortlist. 2019 Pulp Idol winner Jacob Riley is now represented by JK Rowling’s agency, with his debut novel The Boat.
Our belief that new writers need these opportunities has been proven accurate, with hundreds of applicants each year vying for a place in the finals. The quality of the writing is as high as it’s ever been. We have no doubt readers will enjoy these first chapters as much as we have. We hope our 2020 writers achieve the success of previous Pulp Idol winners and finalists and have their work recognised by publishers across the UK. We wish them all the success they deserve and offer our sincerest thanks to all of the writers who enter Pulp Idol and continue to help us make it one of the most successful writing competitions in the UK.
From the Pulp Idol Judges,

The Pulp Idol competition is renowned for showcasing aspiring authors with exciting ideas and a flair for writing. I greatly enjoyed judging the competition this year, and I was so impressed by what I read. Congratulations to all who took part, particularly the finalists and the winners of the competition. 
Laura Williams, Literary Agent, Greene & Heaton Literary Agency

‘Pulp Idol brings together an amazingly varied group of talented, unpublished writers – writers of different ages, backgrounds and experiences working in every genre and style – and the Firsts 2020 collection is a testament to that. This is a book full of imagination and passion that explores the everyday tragedies of our own world and adventures on other worlds: it is an intriguing pleasure to read each writer’s work’.
Charlotte Humphery, editor at Chatto & Windus

A special thank you as always to the people who work tirelessly to make the competition and this publication possible each year - The Writing on the Wall Staff and Trustees, our volunteers, our judges, editors and proof-readers, in particular the writers who were our judges and editors from this year’s competition: Deborah Morgan, John Donoghue, Colin Watts, Helen Dring, Jim Friel, Penny Feeney, Sally-Anne Tapia-Bowes and Clare Coombes, who generously gave up their time to judge the heats and who edited these twelve first chapters. They also gave invaluable feedback to all the writers who didn’t make this year’s final. We’d also like to say a special thank you to our final judges: Laura Campbell of Greene & Heaton Literary Agents and Charlotte Humphery, editor at Chatto and Windus. These are the people who, with Writing on the Wall, have helped create the pathway to bringing these new voices to these pages. - Mike Morris and Madeline Heneghan, Co-Directors, Writing on the Wall

 Click below to buy a paperback copy of Pulp Idol Firsts 2020 for £4.99 (excl. postage)

Click here to buy the £2.99 Kindle Version 
Pulp Idol is a unique writing competition for novelists. With great success from previous finalists, it’s an inspiring opportunity for writers. Pulp Idol focuses on supporting new original voices and getting them heard. We strive to provide a platform for up-and-coming writers, helping with exposure to new audiences and providing contacts with key publishers and agents.

Pulp Idol Success Stories:
-  Pulp Idol Runner Up Ariel Kahn has released his debut novel, Raising Sparks published by Bluemoose Books in 2018 

-  Clare Coombes has set up the Liverpool Editing Company in 2018

- 2010 Pulp Idol finalist Debbie Morgan had her debut novel ‘Disappearing Home’ published by Tindal Street.  It subsequently spent a week at number one in the Amazon/Kindle download charts. 

- Pulp Idol finalist 2012/13 Jon Gale’s debut novella ‘Albion’ has been published by Salt as an ebook novella.

- 2014 finalist, Michael Taylor has released his debut novel, 40 by 40 in 2015.

- Paul McGuire, finalist published in Pulp idol- Firsts 2014, has gained an agent and publisher.

- 2013/14 Pulp Idol winner, Sarah Tarbit received a bursary from Liverpool’s prestigious Everyman Youth Theatre to develop her work as a stage play.

“The launch of the Pulp Idol Firsts book was a fantastic night to celebrate publication and network with the other writers and industry professionals. Overall, Pulp idol was a fantastic experience which has opened doors - it is a perfect opportunity for emerging writers.”

- 2014 finalist Clare Coombes (nee Doran), called to say her debut novel, ‘Definitions’, which appeared in last year’s Firsts. Definitions was published by Bennion Kearney in 2015 and launched in the Writing on the Wall 2015 festival.

-2010 finalist, John Donoghue has released his debut novel The Death's Head Chess Club. The book has sold to America and is being translated for Norway, Poland, Italy, Greece, China and Brazil. It's an incredible tribute to the success of our Pulp Idol novel writing competition. 

"I really do feel that, to a great extent, I owe this to Pulp Idol. My agent (Carolyn Whitaker from London Independent Books) contacted me after seeing the anthology of the finalists' first chapters. It was she who managed to get me in front of a highly respected editor, Ravi Mirchandani, leading to the subsequent book deal."

- A major success for WoW is in Pulp Idol 2010 winner, James Rice, signing a two-book deal with Hodder and Stoughton for his debut novel Alice and the Fly, which featured in our book of ‘Firsts’ published in 2011.

“Pulp Idol’s fantastic. I am truly indebted to this competition. The publishing industry can too often seem like this faraway, impenetrable place, but the truth is it’s always searching for new writers. Pulp Idol's a great way to make this connection in person. If you're serious about writing, enter.”