Polly Clark - Women's Novel Competition 2015 winner

Polly Clark When Auden Met Dora

When Debbie Taylor rang me with the news that my novel had won the Mslexia novel competition I’m afraid I swore in amazement and then lost the power of speech for a while. I had to ring her back. I had been working on the book for a long time, and as it was my first novel, I had been learning what to do as I wrote it. I knew my latest version of the book was onto something, but I needed external eyes to confirm it. Winning the competition was the validation I had longed for.

My agent Jenny Brown and I decided the book was now ready for publishers. The Mslexia win was at the heart of what became a really strong pitch, and I was bowled over once again when Jon Riley at Quercus immediately saw the book’s potential, loved the characters, and snapped it up.

The novel is now called Larchfield and will be published by Quercus March 2017. I have been writing all my life, and have published three (soon to be four) poetry collections which I am very proud of. It is thrilling and deeply satisfying to have made an artistic leap at this point, and to be starting a whole new creative journey.

Polly Clark is Literature Programme Producer for Cove Park, Scotland’s International Artist Centre. Her poetry collections are Kiss, Take Me With You, and Farewell My Lovely (all Bloodaxe). When Auden met Dora was submitted under a pseudonym.

What did the judges say?

‘wonderful characters and set pieces – I admired the sense of otherness of both protagonists’
Di Speirs, BBC

‘the sense of danger hanging over the characters kept me reading until past midnight’
Marina Lewycka, author

‘a deft and moving portrayal of isolation’
Juliet Mushens, agent

Congratulations to the finalists!

  • Jane D’Arcy Baker, The Song of the Tin Woman
  • Imogen Hermes Gowar, The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock
  • Frances Perkins, Not That Way
  • Anne WodehouseLegerdemain

And the shortlisted entrants!

  • Rachel Bentham, Heaven on Earth
  • Louisa Carter, The Longings
  • Jane Heather, All the Way
  • Willow Hewitt, A Certain Side of History
  • Nykki Irvin, The Shape of a Person
  • Hazel Prior, The Harp-Maker of Exmoor
  • Catherine Villalobos, Guardian
'Just read Ann Abineri's January Flash Card in #LittleMs @Mslexia. #BOOM #Fabulouswriting. Deserves more than £20! #genius'