We are thrilled to share the news that Paige Cowan-Hall has won the 2023 Discoveries Prize with her historical novel Marooned.
Paige was chosen from almost 3,000 entries with her vividly imagined historical fantasy set in Jamaica, based on the real-world stories of the Maroons, runaway slaves who fought the British and founded the Maroon settlements.
As the winner of the prize, Paige receives an offer of representation by Curtis Brown, a cash prize of £5,000 and a place on a Curtis Brown Creative six-week online course. In July, she will also join Curtis Brown Creative’s specially designed two-week Discoveries Writing Development course alongside the other 15 writers longlisted for Discoveries 2023.
Paige is a London-based writer and the child of second-generation Jamaican immigrants. Paige studied English Literature at Exeter University, but her love for fantasy, folklore and mythology started in early childhood. Struck by how mythology and fantasy did not reflect her own heritage, she immersed herself in West African and Caribbean legends, now a core theme in her own writing.
I’m so excited not just to win but to have the chance to develop my writing through the Curtis Brown Creative courses. For me, winning is proof that whatever doubts you have, whatever voice in your head tells you ‘you aren’t good enough’, go for it anyway. If I’d listened to my doubts I wouldn’t have entered, and I wouldn’t have won.
The Discoveries Scholar has been awarded to Manchester-based writer and puppeteer Louisa Ashton. Louisa’s speculative novel Build Her With Green explores the relationship between humans and plants in a post-apocalyptic setting. Louisa wins a scholarship place on a three-month Writing Your Novel course with Curtis Brown Creative, where she will receive expert tuition to further develop her novel.
Louisa Ashton said: “I’m over the moon to be named the Discoveries 2023 Scholar! It can be daunting, entering a scheme like this when you’ve never had a single thing published before, but this goes to show that the risk is always worth it. I’m excited and grateful to have the chance to keep developing Build Her With Green with the support of Discoveries.”
Kate Mosse, Chair of the Discoveries Judging Panel, said: “The works-in-progress of both our winner Paige Cowan-Hall and scholar Louisa Ashton had everything any reader would want from a novel – distinctive voice, imagination, passion, exhilaration, beautiful writing. Most of all, each of the judges was desperate to have more and to follow these two very different stories through to the end. Congratulations to Paige and to Louisa, a huge thank you to my fellow judges, the hardworking team of readers at Curtis Brown and Curtis Brown Creative, and to everyone at Audible who is helping us develop Discoveries into a powerhouse of new writing.”
A huge congratulations to Paige, Louisa and all of the writers involved in Discoveries 2023 – we can’t wait to watch your stars ascend!