From Welsh women pirates to dystopian Cardiff blood-drinkers, Firefly Press’s New Children’s Fiction from Wales competition attracted some spine-tingling entries!

And today (11th October 2022) we are delighted to announce the shortlist and winners of a competition which aimed to discover the best new writing for children coming from Welsh authors currently without publishing deals.

Launched on St David’s Day, the competition attracted some fabulous stories from writers either based in Wales or who have grown up in the country. With three separate age groups to write for (age 7-9, 9-12 and 12-18), three winners and the overall winner have been selected by top children’s authors Catherine Fisher, Catherine Johnson and Malachy Doyle and Firefly Publisher Penny Thomas.

‘We wanted to run a competition to find great new children’s fiction and authors writing from Wales and give everyone a chance to submit to us, and we have certainly done that, with some awesome results,’ said Thomas.

‘All entries to the competition were judged anonymously and I’d like to thank the judges for their hard work. We are delighted with the results and may look to make this competition a regular event.’

The winner of each category wins a one-to-one editorial session with a Firefly editor and the overall winner wins a place on a Literature Wales’ Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre residential course in 2023 (subject to availability).

The Winners:

The Map of Rhos by Victoria Pici

The Map of Rhos is a delightfully written, captivating story of fairies battling to regain their rightful homes, which have been stolen by invading elves,’ said Malachy Doyle.


A History of My Weird by Chloë Heuch

‘It was a great joy to read such exciting and interesting stories for this age group!’ said Catherine Fisher. ‘A History of My Weird was a stand-out winner, with its memorable and vibrant main character, and exciting narrative.’

Wick Wood by Lucy Mohan

‘This is a thrilling, twisty, whodunnit with a genuinely creepy setting, I loved it!’ said Penny Thomas.


A History of My Weird by Chloë Heuch

Gwynedd-based Heuch has written ‘a genuinely funny, character-led novel with a fresh voice, one that deserves to find readers,’ said Catherine Johnson.  ‘A History of My Weird, our overall winner, was an easy choice to make for us judges.’


Category: 7-9s

The Girl Who Was Licked by The Dragon by Nicky Herriot

I arrived in Mid Wales as a young adult and fell in love with the Welsh mountains. I stumbled into childrens fiction by accident when several characters told me they were not ready to be grown ups and wanted to do their own thing. Intially I put them into picture books but they demanded their stories be told in full and now I cant stop. Since our boys have left home I enjoy travelling with my wife in our camper van.

The Map of Rhos by Victoria Pici

Born with the gift of the gab and a vivid imagination, Victoria has been creating magical worlds for others to read and play in for as long as she can remember. She loves to write books that fuel children’s knowledge of the natural world and love for the great outdoors. A Jane of all trades, she now works as an admin in a local high school and enjoys spending time in nature with her family.

Saffi’s Super Senses by Sarah King

Sarah King is a teacher and therapist who trained as a college lecturer 26 years ago. She has since enjoyed a long career at Pembrokeshire College in South West Wales. Sarah specialises in teaching, guiding, supporting and coaching learners with SEN and barriers to learning. She is passionate about inclusivity for all and loves writing stories and poems for children that spark wonderment, laughter and well-being. She is also a mum of three.

Tommy Blue and Rex in Gigantic Danger by Jane Carter

After retiring from a 30 year career in the Civil Service, Jane joined Newport Writers Group in January 2020. She started writing poetry and flash fiction during the first lockdown and a number of these pieces were published. This success encouraged Jane to write her first children’s book – set in her childhood home of Abergavenny. 
Jane is married with two children and lives in Caerleon with her husband David.

Category: 9-12s

A History of My Weird by Chloë Heuch

Chloë Heuch was born in Taunton and lives near Pwllheli on the North Wales coast with her partner, two children, her psychopath cat and the dog.
Past jobs have included working in a children’s home, teaching, bar work and working in the local post office. She has a Creative Writing MA from Lancaster University and is a member of SCBWI. Her novel Too Dark to See was published by Firefly in 2020. She currently divides her time between her children, her writing and teaching teenagers.

The Lost Ghost by Suzie Good

Suzie Good grew up in mid Wales walking Offa’s Dyke, making dens and steam-cleaning tractors at her Dad’s garage. She was most happy though, with her head stuck in a book – preferably one by Tolkien or Roald Dahl. After teaching English Literature for over twenty years, she now juggles tutoring, working as an Education Outreach Officer and trying to write. She lives in Cardiff with her husband, two children and a cat called Crunchie. 

Lucky Boy and his Jackdaw by Mary Howell

A child’s joy as they engage with a story has been inspiration and guiding light since teaching days with the first aspiration to write. Now, fortunate to pursue something I love in sight of the sea and a step away from rolling hills, wind and waves also play their part. Studying with The Golden Egg Academy throughout lockdown has been a revelation. I also have an MA in creative writing from Bangor. 

Pen Blackwood for the Win by Gail Sequeira

Gail was born in India and lived a nomadic existence until she found her roots in Wales where she now lives with her best friend and their dog.
She began writing seriously during lockdown and now she can’t stop. Her writing reflects her interest in cross-cultural relations, solidarity with lost causes and the universal search for belonging.

Spark-Blood by Liam Kelly

Liam discovered a love of writing for children after getting his award-winning short film about a boy with a magic haircut broadcast on the BBC. Having turned his attention towards prose within the last year, he reached the shortlist for the 2021 Penguin WriteNow editorial programme, with a short story about a boy who can talk to flies. This is his first attempt at writing a full-length novel.

The Turquoise Thief by Essie Brammer

Essie is a Neurodivergent writer of MG, YA and Adult Fiction. She lives in Wales, where she works as a statistician for the government. The Turquoise Thief was inspired by her grandfather, who was a code cracker at Bletchley Park during WW2. She spends every spare moment writing – she always has, even when, as a dyslexic child, she struggled to spell anything right. Her work has been longlisted for a number of unpublished novel awards.

Category: 12+

The Cuckoo’s Nest by David Thorpe

David Thorpe is a Marvel comics writer whose prize-winning YA novel Hybrids was called ‘stunningly clever’ by The Times. He co-founded the London Screenwriters Workshop. He gave this up to move to Wales and devote his energy to saving the environment. He has since written a dozen books and 100s of articles on sustainability. Since he has cerebral palsy, he takes a stand for disability rights.

Lie or Die by Alison Clack

After University, Ali moved to London and became a Production Manager at Fountain Television Studios, working on a wide range of shows from Teletubbies to Friends. Her job brought her into contact with many celebrities, giving her a unique insight into the workings of a television show. She now writes YA and lives in Essex with a houseful of teenagers. She can often be found freezing on the side of a rugby pitch. 

Nest by Rebecca Roberts

Rebecca Roberts lives in Prestatyn with her husband and children, and works as a translator. Best known for writing Welsh fiction, her YA novel #Helynt won the 2021 Tir na n-Og prize and the Children and Young Adult Category of Literature Wales’s Book of the Year. She has been published by Carreg Gwalch, Honno and Gomer, and is currently translating several of her books into English and writing for the Young Adult market. 

Shadow of a Pirate by Kit Swift

Kit Swift grew up in Yorkshire, studied German at Warwick University and worked in advertising sales, publishing and international trade before sinking his roots deep into Welsh soil. He now works for Swansea University, has a PhD in English and will try to convince you that he enjoys running. Home is near Swansea, where he lives with his wife and two children. 

Utopia Red by Abigail Tanner

Abigail lives in Cardiff with her husband and son. She studied art at university, but deciding it was far too creative, went onto study waste management and has worked in waste/resource policy ever since. Creativity returned (hurrah!), she wrote in her lunch break, joined SCBWI and is mentored at the Golden Egg Academy. She enjoys writing, sketchwalks, sketchnotes, and gardening (not housework) in her spare time. And watching her son play a lot of football.

Wick Wood by Lucy Mohan

Lucy teaches creative writing in South Wales and is the co-founder of PaperBound Magazine. She has studied with Curtis Brown Creative, and also has an MA in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University. When she isn’t writing or working as a bookseller, she can be found watching daytime murder mysteries and carving her favourite film characters into pumpkins.

A huge congratulations to all the shortlistees and winners from the team at Firefly Press, and a big thank you to judges Catherine Johnson, Catherine Fisher and Malachy Doyle for making the tough decisions!

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