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WINNER‘I loved the sheer inventiveness ofthe language, its strange vivid poetic style and the natural world metaphors’ ANNE FINE, AUTHOR‘the setting is so appealing, and the text is exceptionally gripping; a powerful book’ CLAIRE WILSON, LITERARY AGENT‘a David Almond- esque style with some wonderful lines and such a mysterious setting’ CHARLOTTE EYRE, THE BOOKSELLERfrom the winning novelT his morning we did find a Boy. A real one.He was washed up on the rocks, broken andbloody. Seaweed tangled around his legs, flopful as a new lamb.A reminder. Like when the dead cow was spat out on the sand. Or the bag full of small stones that used to be kittens.I will tell you more about this. I will tell you what happens.A storm had stirred in the night, like Father said it would. Big black clouds filled up the sky all yestersun, followed us round while we saw to the animals and the crop.He pointed to the clouds like cauliflowers and the ones like anchors.Dangerous night coming, he said.He lit the light early, for the Good sailors, then sat up listening to the wind. Father had his ear right up to the wall, then sat whittling wood in his chair.He always knows when trouble’s to follow. He feels it in his bones.We slept some three, four hour then were on the shore first light, grabbling cockles. They come up fresh and plenty with storms. I had my skirt gathered up, brim full of them and more in my hands but I dropped them when I heard Father shout,Girl.I could only see his back. He was down on the last rock flats near the water, breathing big and looking at something. I could not tell what. Fog swirled around my head. I pushed my hands through it, moved nearer, but Father shouted,Keep back.In that way he does when the crop fails or Moll breaks loose near the Lava Rocks. Angry and quick.Stay away.My warm blood was pumping around inside me. The air sodden up with sea spit, rolling off the water, sitting on every bit of my face and hair.One more step, careful and slow. Father hunched down and it’s then I saw the Boy. No life in his limbs. His hair wet black and his skin china pale.I thought about the Badness. The big black swirling Badness of the world. It could still be in this Boy, even if he was dead. I could catch it from touching him. ❐NOVELCOMPETITION2016HOW I DID ITI was shortlisted for the Women’s Novel Competition three years ago, and everything changed. I went to the networking party that was part of the prize and met my agent Joanna Swainson there. I worked on my shortlisted novel, The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind, with her but I was never happy with it.It was an adult story told from the point of view of a young boy; the more I edited it the worse it got. Meanwhile I wasrunning a youth theatre and writing plays,so Iappliedfor a BBCFellowshipwith tutti fruttitheatre, whichinvolved mentoring by Mike Kenny who writes plays for children.He taught me the importance of keeping the child at the heart of a story. And to tell a story in scenes – as opposed to documenting every moment. I wrote a play for little children while I was at tutti frutti, about a girl living on a remote island. It was never performed butI spent a year imagining that world: the sea and the sky, the isolation. Then I was awarded a place on an Arvon course and a grant from New Writing North and decided to try children’s fiction – a novel that was completely different to the play, but set in that same environment. I came away from Arvon absolutely buzzing – I wrote 20,000 words in a week and used the rest of the grant to buy time to finish the book. By then I’d discovered Sarah Crossan’s work, which showed that it was possible to be poetic in a novel for children.The Salt of the Sky is also writtenin first person. I was worried I only had one voice, the Yorkshire dialect voice of the boy in my first novel. But as soon as I started The Salt of the Sky the girl’s voice just cameto me.STACEY SAMPSON combines acting with teaching drama and creating plays with people of all ages and backgrounds.She was named as one of the BBC’s ‘Ones to Watch’ for 2015 and is currently completing the Jerwood Arvon Mentoring Scheme.WINNERStacey Sampson, The Salt of the SkyFINALISTSLucy Nevitt, Weregirl and Him Sarah House,The Magpie GardenEleanor Holliday, Fox Girl RunningSheila Adamson, I Wouldn’t Start From HereALSO ON THE SHORTLISTHelen Mackenzie, PsignsGail Hildreth, The Weight of the SkyJudith Facer, The Heightened Kirsty Lynam, NubilusSarah Ann Juckes, The Proof of the OutsideKat Humphreys, Blackout Rebecca Overy, Angus McMungus and His Incredible Teacosy Planmslexia Mar/Apr/May 2017 9PHOTO: MARIDAV / SHUTTERSTOCK

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