We are so pleased to be announcing the winner of the Hot Key Wattpad Young Writer’s Prize in collaboration with Wattpad! It was so thrilling to see the huge amount of creativity out there. And the response to the competition was superb. It made the selection process enjoyable … but very hard at the same time. And once we had whittled down to the shortlist we had to choose again and find our winner.
For me it was so interesting to hear the views of our teen judges as well of course as our adult judges. And I am very happy with our winner … DRUM ROLL … Madeline Stanford with her novel, LIKE HELL. Madeline has won editorial consultation for her book as her prize. Looking forward to it, Madeline! And I must finish with a big thank you to Wattpad for supporting the prize. – Emma Matthewson
We also asked Maddie to write a blog to tell us about how she wrote the story and what her journey through the competition was like:
When I started writing LIKE HELL, I really just wanted to see if I could finish it. I spent my teenage years drunk on YA books and fandoms – so when I finished uni, I finally had the time to turn a story in my head into words on a page. I’d been thinking about the idea for a while; an alternative afterlife where the good guys aren’t so good, and the bad guys wanted a second chance. After I started, I wrote solidly for about six months.
I’d been aware of the Hot Key Books Young Writers Prize since reading 2013’s winner. And when it was announced that this year, the competition was being run in collaboration with Wattpad, I had a little heart attack. Letting Hot Key read it? Nerve-wracking, but fine. Letting the entire internet judge it? Insanely terrifying. It was like cracking open a bit of my brain and inviting thousands of people to stare inside.
Despite my initial panic, I’m so glad I decided to enter. People seemed to like my story, and they began to vote and recommend it to their friends. The whole thing just blew up, and soon I was receiving messages from users all over the world telling me how much they enjoyed my novel. Wattpad has been an amazing platform: over the last six months or so, LIKE HELL has had over half a million reads. The feedback has been incredible, and readers have even started sending me their own fan-art of the characters.
Some of the fan-made drawings based on characters from LIKE HELL
Gaining approval from publishing insiders has also been really important to me. So when I discovered I’d won the Young Writers Prize, I had a bizarre little cry and then a hysterical laughing fit. (Emotionally stable, I am not.) The months of waiting for the result had been excruciating, because I felt like I was on the edge of achieving something I’d wanted for as long as I could remember. Having so many people support my novel has been completely overwhelming, and I’m still astonished that I’ve somehow spawned such a readership. I am so excited for the future – I want to push the world of LIKE HELL as far as it can go. I can’t thank Hot Key enough for giving me this opportunity to do so. – Maddie
Want to read LIKE HELL? You can visit Madeline’s profile on Wattpad here.
You can also track the story of the Young Writers Prize by reading the previous blog posts here.