Judith Warr-Arnold - Mslexia Childrens' Novel Competition 2018 winner

Judith Warr-Arnold, ‘My Own Fire, My Own Spear

‘Four waves of emotion so far.
The initial roller-coaster of euphoria and disbelief.
Days of secretly hugging it to myself; random chuckling and beaming, startling passing strangers in the street. Didn’t they know they were in the presence of a prize-winning author?
That last word. Author. The growing realisation that this is now how I am thinking of myself. Shame they stopped putting “occupation” in passports. Perhaps a set of business cards just casually mentioning? Several sets. Hundreds. Would a banner across the front of the house be out of the question?
The sinking in and follow up. The professional opportunities offered as part of the prize somehow make it all real. Thank you, Mslexia and judges. This raises my game; a new set of challenges. Wherever they may lead I will never forget this first professional joy. Inside I am singing, “Watch this space!”‘

JUDITH WARR-ARNOLD taught history and design technology but resigned when the curriculum became too prescriptive. She is now a very involved tutor-cum-mentor-cum landlady to overseas students. She has never been published.


What did the judges say?

The panel were unanimous in choosing My Own Fire, My Own Spear by Judith Warr-Arnold as the winner. They loved the characterisation of the protagonist Moth and her relationship with her annoying little brother. The book is about survival and rivalries in a Stone Age tribe, an era ‘oddly underdone in the market’, said The Bookseller‘s children’s & YA preview editor Fiona Noble. ‘A fantastic middle-grade novel,’ was literary agent Gemma Cooper’s conclusion. Author Katherine Rundell summed it up by saying, ‘As a 12 year-old I’d have loved this book.’.

Congratulations to the other finalists!

  • Camilla Chester, Darna’s Sky
  • Helenka Stachera, Mute
  • Laura Baggaley, Hadanuff
  • Nicola Garrard, Twenty-Nine Locks



  • Rachel Bentham, The Tynings
  • Helen MacKenzie, Knotted
  • Alex Ivey, The Glass Hotel
  • Nicola Smith, The Asphodel Field
  • Eilish Fisher, To the Waters and the Wild
  • Helenka Stachera, Sleep Station
  • Mary Green, Orlando’s Ghosts



Excited to have my flash selected for this month's Little Ms Flashcard. Thanks Mslexia.
Kerrin Leeb