The Kelpies Prize

Kelpies Prize 2019

Winner Announced

The winner of the Kelpies Prize 2019 was revealed as Edinburgh-based dentist Christopher Mackie at an exclusive award ceremony at Edinburgh International Book Festival on Thursday 15th August. Author and illustrator Catherine Rayner was there to open the top-secret envelope and present the winner’s trophy.

Christopher has won a year of mentoring with the editorial team at Floris Books, along with a publication deal, £1,000 cash and a week-long writing retreat at Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s creative writing centre.

Catherine Rayner and Christopher Mackie

A huge congratulations to everyone who made it to the shortlist – the judges had such a difficult time choosing the winner from a record number of entries at an incredibly high standard.

Kelpies Prize 2019 Shortlist

Left to right: Bobby Finn, Emma Mason, Karen Hussain, Lizbeth Valentine, Christopher Mackie, Helen Mackenzie

Meet the Winner

Kelpies Prize 2019 winner - Christopher MackieChristopher Mackie grew up in a quiet village outside of Glasgow and first learnt the art of storytelling when he convinced his parents he had nothing to do with that stain on the carpet. Since then, he’s grown up very little, learnt even less, and now works as a dentist in Forth Valley, despite living in Edinburgh, because no dentist should ever live within ten miles of their patients. Chris spends his free time writing or pestering his family and long-suffering girlfriend to read whatever he’s working on. He’d love to do a bit more writing and a bit less gum gardening, but he’s become accustomed to a roof over his head, so he’s prepared to compromise on that front. Chris has no writing qualifications whatsoever, but his mum thinks his stories are “quite good”. We certainly agree!

The Winning Entry

The judges enjoyed Chris’ insightful characterisation, his powerful, engaging narrative voice, and skilful writing for older readers. In this extract from his teen novel, fifteen-year-old Nathan struggles to deal with the symptoms of his Schizophrenia after the death of his older brother.

Perhaps Mrs Havers is right. Perhaps we all ought to go inside.

I go to open the back door again, but not before a familiar, unwelcome tingling passes down my fingertips. “Not now,” I mutter, “please. Not with all these people…”

But pleading with the sensation never helps, never speeds its passing. Obsessive compulsion is as unreasonable, unseasonable and unfeasible as Scottish weather. It cannot be bargained with or implored upon. It comes when it wishes and departs when it alone sees fit.

My fingers find the cold metal of the handle and pull down. Then push up. Down. Up. Down. Up. The latch clicks, releasing then relocking, as my hand twists back and forth, a perpetual motion machine that opens and closes the door twelve times.

“Let. It. Go!” I tell my disobedient hand, as tears begin condensing.

Catalogued Emotion #1: Frustration
A feeling of upset or annoyance at not being able to change something.

Tears of frustration, that’s why I’m crying. It has nothing to do with Stuart; it’s just that my tics are especially disruptive today. I file this emotion into the banks of my mind, nestling it amidst the others, a fragile egg in an unstable nest.

“Why don’t you let me?” Mrs Havers takes my hand gently, sliding it from the handle and opening the door in one swift, easy motion.

The Prize

We’ve put together a prize package designed to help the Kelpies Prize-winner grow and develop as a children’s writer, consisting of:

  • A £1,000 cash prize
  • One year of mentoring by an experienced editorial team
  • A publishing contract with Floris Books
  • A week-long writing retreat at Moniack Mhor, plus £100 towards expenses

You’ll find full details of what’s on offer in our Terms & Conditions.

History of the Kelpies Prize

The Kelpies Prize was launched in 2005 to find the best new Scottish writing for children. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength, with many of the winners and shortlisters going on to have sparkling writing careers. Find out more about our past Kelpies Prize winners.