The Kelpies Prize for Writing: 2020 Shortlist

Massive congratulations to the four talented writers who make up this year’s shortlist. Entrants to this year’s prize were asked to submit three writing samples, including the first five chapters of a children’s book, a synopsis for a different children’s book and a short piece of writing for children starting with the phrase, “[Character name] had a secret that no one must ever discover…”

Read on to find out more about our shortlisters and read a sample of their work, or download the press release.

The Shortlist

Finola Burke is a primary school teacher who lives in an old, spooky house in Dundee with her husband and two sons. Reading stories is the favourite part of her day and she loves nothing more than putting on a silly voice or two to really make the story come alive.

Finola’s laugh-out-loud humour and cast of likeable characters made her entry stand out for the judges. They also noted her range – demonstrating imagination and the ability to write for both middle grade readers and older, and in different genres.

Read an extract…
A.E. Daly grew up in York, studied in Glasgow and Newcastle, and now lives and works in Edinburgh.  She has a background in art history and computer science and a lifelong love for science fiction, comic books and ghost stories. She received a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2018.

The judges found this entry to be imaginative, atmospheric and wholly unique. They were impressed by the writer’s compelling characters and engaging voice, as well as the skilful and confident writing with crossover appeal.

Read an extract…
Fiona McKeracherFiona McKeracher grew up in Glasgow and Argyll, spending her childhood sailing the Scottish lochs and dreaming of pirates. She has worked as a lawyer and is currently concentrating on her writing. She was shortlisted for the Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2016, and won in 2018.

Vividly written, with a concept that captures both dramatic adventure and real emotional depth, the judges enjoyed Fiona’s strong, pacy plot, and refreshingly unique narrative style.

Read an extract…
Jude Reid is a surgeon living in Glasgow with her two children and a border collie. She enjoys tabletop roleplaying games, is a keen student of ITF Tae Kwon Do and probably drinks more coffee than she should. She does her best writing at night, which is just as well, as that’s the only chance she gets.

The judges enjoyed Jude’s assured and engaging characterisation, involving plot, and perfectly pitched tone for middle grade readers. They were also drawn in by her ability to write both adventure and emotion with equal skill.
Read an extract…


Award Ceremony

The winners will be announced at a virtual award ceremony on Thursday 13th May, which will be livestreamed on our YouTube channel. Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook for full details.

2019 Winner

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

Christopher 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 judges enjoyed Christopher’s insightful characterisation, his powerful, engaging narrative voice, and skilful writing for older readers. Head to our previous winners page to read an extract from his winning entry!

History of the Kelpies Prize

The Kelpies Prize was launched in 2004 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. In 2019, we changed the format of the prize to reflect our new aims of nurturing and developing children’s writers in Scotland, asking entrants to submit a selection of writing samples as opposed to a complete manuscript. In addition, we introduced an all-new prize package including a year of mentoring with our experienced editorial team.

Find out more about our past Kelpies Prize winners.