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Pulp Idol - Firsts

Writing on the Wall has been publishing the first chapters of the finalists in its annual Pulp Idol competition for over ten years, with many of the finalists going on to have their debut novels published, including Ariel Kahn with Raising Sparks (Bluemoose)and James Rice with Alice and the Fly (Hodder and Stoughton).  All finalists get their first chapter published in a book of ‘Firsts’, which is produced in hard copy and also made available in Kindle. It is circulated to agents and publishers and each writer is presented with copies for themselves, their friends and families.


Pulp Idol - Firsts 2019 is the ninth collection of first chapters
Get your copy here

We’re proud as ever to present the latest batch of new, unpublished novelists unearthed through our annual Pulp Idol writing competition, this year with twelve first chapters from the competition final held during WoWFEST 18, our writing and literary festival held each year during May since it was launched in 2000. The past year has seen a rising tide of voices demanding that new writers from diverse and working-class communities be heard. This is something that has always been close to our heart and was the reason why Pulp Idol was launched in 2006, in recognition of the need for these new voices to have opportunities for their writing to be published and to provide pathways to bring it to the attention of both mainstream and independent publishers.

Mike Morris, Editor, and Co-Director of Writing on the Wall

Presenting the biogs and synopsis of our brilliant Pulp Idol 2019 winners and finalists


Jacob Riley
Nurtured on Philip Pullman and Garth Nix, my thirst for magic and adventure has guided my adult self towards those who can enchant the very words on the page: Jorge Luis Borges, Bruno Schulz, Gabriel Garcia Marquez…. The right words can be as potent and powerful as any spell.


The Boat Synopsis
The natives of The Banks, twin isthmuses marooned in a sea of fog, have always foretold of the coming of The Boat. As Boatcoming day looms, generations of religious anticipation rises to meet it. But what happens when a prophecy providing the bedrock of a civilisation fails to come true?



Alistair Daniel 
I teach creative writing for the Open University, where I’m working on a PhD. My short stories have appeared in The Missouri Review, Narrative, Litro, Stand, Flash, The Stinging Fly and The Irish Times. I’ve been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and longlisted for the Fish International Short Story Prize. 


Montreal Synopsis 
New England, 1993. Five European teenagers are heading for the Canadian border in a stolen van. Four of them will never arrive. 





Philippa Holloway 
Philippa Holloway has been a zombie in a b-movie, once brought someone back from the dead, and spent three days in Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone as research for her novel. She challenged herself to publish short stories on every continent, so far achieving success in the US, Australia, Africa and Europe.
 
Borderland Synopsis
Helen, a self-taught prepper and single-mother protesting plans for a Nuclear-Power Station that will consume her land, travels to Chernobyl’s Exclusion-Zone where her skills and beliefs are tested by those living with its legacy, and realises she must choose between her child and the fight to save her family heritage.


Jan Cabral-Jackson
Jan Cabral-Jackson is a graduate of the University of Manchester's Centre for New Writing, with a Masters in Creative Writing. She was born in Lisbon, attended a French Lycee and works as a part-time GP in the North West. Indiana Press published her short story Redemption in June 2016. 


Louis & Marguerite Synopsis
Louis & Marguerite is set in 13th century Normandy and the Siege of Damietta. Marguerite is accused of leprosy and searches for refuge in monastery hospitals, whilst her husband Louis fights in the Fifth Crusade, bearing witness to the first interfaith meeting between Francis of Assisi and the Sultan al-Kamil.


Lesley VandeMark 
Lesley VandeMark earned a degree in Liberal Arts, graduating with honours, awarded for work in therapeutic writing with victims of domestic abuse and women prisoners. Graduating from Liverpool John Moores with honours, Lesley is employed by LIPA as Wellbeing Officer, working with students with mental health issues.  

I’ll Have the Onion Soup Synopsis
This is a story: a semi-autobiographical account of being a woman on her own after 25 years of marriage and looking for love online. It’s a story about what it is to be human and how the events of our past shape our expectations for the future. 


Paul Perry
Paul has written compulsively for as long as he can remember. He has decided that it’s time to share his stories (and stop leaving them unread in desk drawers). He has a long list of projects in mind, but he wants his first to be a book for younger readers.

Beyond Ash and Oak Synopsis
Beyond Ash and Oak is a story of loss, friendship and most importantly, the notion of home and everything that entails. We follow Peter, a hyper-intelligent boy with no real social skills, as he navigates the strange new world of the care system.


Paul Tarpey
I began writing short stories about 3 years ago after prolonged periods of working on local magazines, as well as performing live comedy at rock gigs and on the radio. This is my first attempt at a novella.

Mush Synopsis

Mush is a dark romantic comedy based on the true story of a relationship between a glam rock session musician and a serial killer. Their story has been rewritten and transposed to the early 80s to become a political and cultural analogy of those times.



Stephanie McGill
Stephanie McGill trained as an actor at Manchester Metropolitan University School of Theatre. Her career includes acting, writing and facilitating creative arts workshops for youth theatres and charities, support worker, comedian, and care management. Living on the Wirral with her partner and two children, she currently runs music and movement classes for pre-school children.


Past Forward Synopsis
After receiving the news that she can’t have children Sylvie starts to examine her life, the paths she's chosen and the decisions made for her - hoping clarity can be found by confronting the whispers and confusion of her formative years.


Trisha McKeon 
Trisha McKeon was born and raised in the west of Ireland and has lived in Liverpool since 2014. She started writing short stories 7 years ago. She has had work published in 2 WOW publications, and in a Merseyside LGBTQ, anthology titled “Made Up”. “Twister” is her first novel.

Twister Synopsis
Dawn, Michelle, Louise; 3 generations of women taking us from 1960s Oklahoma to current day West of Ireland. We encounter the intricacies and challenges of mother/daughter relationships, love and mental ill-health. Amid obstacles of fantastical beginnings, traumatic secrets, troubled souls and a longing to belong, the women struggle to find peace.

Kalvin Hunt
A proud geek with a BA in Creative Writing, stories became a major part of who I am from a young age, they imparted vital lessons, I met nuanced characters and helped me grow more confident in myself. Now I want to give back and inspire people the same way I was.
 
Elemental Rising Synopsis
Elle’s already difficult life is made worse when she finds herself at the centre of a plot that could mean renewed war between humans and Elementals. Elle must face assassins, rogue Elementals and betrayal on her journey to discover her place and uncover the conspiracy at the heart of the city.


Patricia Kelly 
My background is in fashion which I teach, but my love affair has always been with writing.  Recently equipped with a MA in Creative Writing, I am testing out my new found skills and loving the encouragement and permission that writing gives me to explore everyday people and their environments.
 
Wrong Side Synopsis
Relentlessly bullied at school and losing his Nan and best friend to Alzheimer’s, Donnie Burns sets out to gain both popularity and build a machine that can reverse his Nan’s illness. But when his new friends turn against him he is forced to realise that the only person who he can truly save is himself. 



Matthew McKeown
Matthew McKeown is an English undergraduate and Writing postgraduate, and co-founder of the Liverpool Editing Company. In addition to his work as a fiction editor, he also writes web copy and feature articles on a freelance basis.
 
Writing for Thompson Synopsis
With religious and political institutions now redundant, influence is exerted through the modern-day opium of the British masses: football. Thompson realises this, but in desiring to wield the transcendent power of sport, he faces the dilemma of how to avoid corrupting the very purity on which its appeal is built.

 

Pulp Idol - Firsts 2018 is the eighth collection of first chapters. 
Get your copy here 

Pulp Idol has had many successes, but few so quickly as the outcome of this year’s competition. Runner-up Ariel Kahn’s debut novel was snapped up almost immediately after the final held in May during WoWFest 2018 by North-east based award-winning independent publisher Bluemoose Books. So, well done to Ariel – look out for his debut novel Raising Sparks, which will be published in 2018.

Congratulations also to all our finalists whose opening chapters are published here for the first time. The quality of writing in this, the 11th year of our annual competition, is as good as any in previous years, and we wish them all the best of luck in finding publishers for their work.

Pulp Idol is a wonderful opportunity for new writers to gain exposure to the publishing industry and to share their work. Thanks so much WoW! Looking forward to the book launch!
- Laura Bui, Winner

Pulp Idol gives new and unpublished writers the opportunity to have their writing seen and read by industry professionals. If they are fortunate to be short listed they are then  invited to read out their work to publishers, agents and the public. The standard of writing and the passion in which it is delivered is a reminder of what great new talent there is out there from all sections of society. I was so impressed by one writer, Ariel Kahn, that we will be publishing his debut, Raising Sparks in July 2018. As a publisher we are always looking to find great new talent and Pulp Idol is a fantastic event that shines a light on new writing and new writers. - Kevin Duffy, Bluemoose Books and Judge 

Pulp Idol - Firsts 2017 is the seventh collection of first chapters. 
Get your copy here


Writing on the Wall are launching the 10th Anniversary Edition of Pulp Idol – Firsts. Launched in 2007, Pulp Idol, a competition for debut novelists, has been the Launchpad for several new novelists, including James Rice, Deborah Morgan, John Donoghue and Clare Coombes. Pulp Idol – Firsts, judged by Laura Williams from PFD Literary Agents.

Judging the Pulp Idol competition is a highlight of my year – it takes enormous bravery to get up on stage and read your work aloud, and I’m always so impressed by the high quality of the entrants. I’m looking forward to hearing the stories from the 2018 finalists! - Laura Williams, PFD Agency and Judge




Pulp Idol - Firsts 2016 is the sixth collection of first chapters. 
Get your copy here

Pulp Idol is a unique writing competition for novelists, which focuses on supporting new original voices and getting them heard. We provide a platform for up-and-coming writers, helping with exposure to new audiences and providing contacts with key publishers and agents. 


‘The Pulp Idol competition is a unique award. These finalists really had some guts to lay themselves open to this experience – and then to being critiqued by us! It truly was a celebration of the spoken word, in so many forms. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all the shortlisted authors for sharing their fabulous work with us. I can’t wait to read - and hear - what they all write next!’ Laura Longrigg, MBA Literary Agents.

‘The standard of work this year is excellent. It's an honour to be involved in such an exciting competition, filled with local talent. Give it a couple of years and I’m sure a lot of these authors will be gracing our bookshelves.’ James Rice, Author - Alice and the Fly 
 
‘I loved judging the prize; the quality of submissions was exceptionally high with a colourful variety of work.’ Hellie Ogden, Literary Agent, Janklow and Nesbit

 
Pulp Idol - Firsts 2015 is the fifth collection of first chapters. 
Get your copy here. 

Earlier this year we received the news that Pulp Idol 2010 winner James Rice has signed a two-book deal and will have his debut novel, Alice and the Fly, published by Hodder and Stoughton in January 2015. James is a talented writer who has produced an incredible debut novel. We offer him our congratulations and wish him well. We are proud to have played some part in his success. Good news knocked on our door again when 2014 finalist Clare Coombes (nee Doran), called to say her debut novel, ‘Dictionary of Departures’, which appeared in last year’s Firsts, is to be published in Spring 2015 by Bennion Kearney. We’re very proud, but not too surprised at Clare’s success.
Both James and Clare confirm that talent plus dedication, with an eye to using any opportunity to put your work into the path of readers, agents and publishers, are some of the key ingredients you need to get your work published.
We were delighted to welcome as judges this year literary agents Tom Witcombe from Blake Friedman and Alex Christofi from Conville and Walsh. Their participation confirms Pulp Idol’s growing reputation among the wider literary world as a standard mark for new, quality writing.
The reaction of Tom and Alex to the writing you are about to read, gives us more expectation than hope that more than one of our writers will follow on in the successful footsteps of James and Clare, and numerous other Pulp idol writers from previous editions. We are sure you too will enjoy their work as much as we have.We wish them all every success in the future.
 
"We saw an incredible variety of submissions in the 2014 Pulp Idol competition, from work exploring our closest relationships to books that were all about action, and from the gritty realism of police procedural to the fantasy of a world unlike our own. The standard was impressive, and it’s clear that new writing is alive and well in Liverpool."
Alex Christofi                                                                                                     
 
Pulp Idol - Firsts 2014 is the fourth collection of first chapters. 
Get your copy from here. 
 
Firsts 2014 is full of new and up and coming novelists who were finalists in the Pulp Idol writing competition organised by the Liverpool-based Writing on the Wall Festival. The competition takes place each year during the festival (usually held in May) and features writers taking part in a series of heats and a final, reading from their work and answering questions from the judges, who are all published writers themselves. The purpose of the competition, and the 'Firsts' publication, is to support new writers and bring their work to the attention of publishers and agents. The judges for the Pulp Idol 2012 final said of this year's collections of 'Firsts': 
 
"Firsts 2014 displays an eclectic mix of fresh voices from Liverpool. Bold, intense and often astute, this is a rousing assortment of first chapters. Complimenting and contrasting, poignant and witty, there’s something utterly exciting about delicious storytelling that wants to be discovered." 
Caroline Smailes, The Drowning of Arthur Braxton

Pulp Idol - Firsts 2012 is the third collection of first chapters from new and up and coming novelists who were finalists in the Pulp Idol writing competition organised by the Liverpool-based Writing on the Wall Festival. The competition takes place each year during the festival (usually held in May) and features writers taking part in a series of heats and a final, reading from their work and answering questions from the judges, who are all published writers themselves. The purpose of the competition, and the 'Firsts' publication, is to support new writers and bring their work to the attention of publishers and agents. The judges for the Pulp Idol 2012 final said of this year's collections of 'Firsts': 
 
"This year's Pulp Idol yielded some of the most powerful and original prose I've read in a long time. A truly notable collection of Firsts."
Helen Walsh, Brass, Go to Sleep, Once Upon a Time in England
 
"The standard of the entries I read at this year’s Pulp Idol was exceptional. It’s a superb competition, seeking talent in places where many don’t think to look, and the variety of the writing I was introduced to impressed me enormously."
Luke Brown, Senior Editor, Tindal Street Press
 
"New writers pen their first chapters, and judging by this standard, the future of the novel is in good hands."
Debbie Morgan, Disappearing Home
 
Pulp Idol - Firsts 2011 is the second collection of first chapters from new and up and coming novelists who were finalists in the Pulp Idol writing competition organised by the Liverpool-based Writing on the Wall Festival. The competition takes place each year during the festival (usually held in May) and features writers taking part in a series of heats and a final, reading from their work and answering questions from the judges, who are all published writers themselves. The purpose of the competition, and the 'Firsts' publication, is to support new writers and bring their work to the attention of publishers and agents.
 
"A brilliant and diverse collection which does huge credit to Pulp Idol and its participants. This competition goes from strength to strength - publishers take note!"
Kevin Sampson, Awaydays, Powder, Stars are Stars
 
"This collection, compelling and eclectic, offers a snapshot of the many directions and possibilities new writers are exploring, from SF and slipstream to popular and literary fiction. The range of these voices carries the message that the art of the novel remains strong."
Martin de Mello, New-Writing Co-ordinator with Commonword, 
Editor for Crocus Books and Suitcase Press.

Pulp Idol - Firsts is a collection of firsts chapters from new and up and coming novelists who were finalists in the Pulp Idol writing competition organised by the Liverpool-based Writing on the Wall Festival. The competition takes place each year during the festival (usually held in May) and features writers taking part in a series of heats and a final, reading from their work and answering questions from the judges, who are all published writers themselves. The purpose of the competition, and the 'Firsts' publication, is to support new writers and bring their work to the attention of publishers and agents.
 
"Ask anyone in the City of Culture to list local writers and the chances are they'll name playwrights or people who write screenplays. Well, here's something to remind everyone that much of the best writing is found inside books. Some of the contents of this book won prizes, and the rest were in the running, but it's the reader who's the real winner."
Ramsey Campbell, The House on Nazareth Hill, Told by the Dead, Grin of the Dark