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Tufnell Park author shortlisted for coveted writing award

PUBLISHED: 14:41 21 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:18 21 November 2018

Islington author Kate Maxwell was one of three writers shortlisted for the Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award.

Islington author Kate Maxwell was one of three writers shortlisted for the Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award.

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While many expert commentators will soon begin announcing their tips and pointers for 2019, we offer only one: to keep an eye out for Kate Maxwell's debut novel.

Kate Maxwell (left) with Kamila Shamsie at the Bridport Prize awards ceremony. Picture: Graham Shackleton.Kate Maxwell (left) with Kamila Shamsie at the Bridport Prize awards ceremony. Picture: Graham Shackleton.

The Tufnell Park resident was recently named as one of three writers shortlisted for this year’s Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award, an illustrious creative writing contest which drew 1,200 entries from across the UK and Ireland.

Maxwell’s novel - titled Hush – reached the top five alongside fellow shortlisted writers Joly Braime and Justin Cooke, runner-up Polly Crosby and the overall winner, Megan Davis.

“I was on holiday with family when I first found out, I just felt amazed and delighted,” she says.

“When you are trying to write a novel, you spend a lot of time on your own not getting that much feedback. It’s a real boost when someone reads it and says that they like it.”

The judging panel for this year’s competition featured Kamila Shamsie; the multi award-winning author who scooped this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. In achieving shortlisted status, Maxwell will benefit from a manuscript appraisal from The Literary Consultancy as she bids to finalise her debut work.

“Hush is a reading group novel that exposes what we lose by having children, as well as what we gain,” she adds.

“Set between London and New York, it explores themes of identity, fulfilment and belonging.

“The number of single women seeking IVF has more than doubled in ten years and this is about a woman that decides to have a child on her own. It’s also about a woman’s struggle to bond with her child and the enormous impact of having kids on a parent’s identity and career.

“One of the themes is fulfilment: which is more – having a child or a great career? These are taboo subjects, but I think the best literature often addresses challenging topics.”

Maxwell has lived in Islington for around five years and was in New York City for the previous six before that. A part-time writer for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, Maxwell also previously worked as an editor for Conde Nast Traveller, so how has she found the switch from journalism to fiction?

“It’s completely different actually. I’ve been a writer and an editor for almost 20 years but with fiction, you can draw on life experiences to a certain extent. I have found it immensely liberating to write without constraints, and to allow my imagination to run wild.”

For more details on the Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award, click here.

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