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Master of the Inkpot Competition 2015 Winner Announcement!

02 December 2015

Earlier this year, we began a competition for authors who did not have agents to submit their work to us. We opened submissions for two weeks, and received over 1,000 entries - that's the equivalent of over 70 a day!

We asked for the first three chapters, or 5,000 words, of a novel, or a full picture book text with sample illustrations. 

We read through every submission sent into us carefully, and then asked a shortlist of entrants to submit their complete manuscripts to us (if a novel). We have now come to a final decision...

We were hugely impressed by the quality of the submissions we received. We would like to thank everyone who sent in their work to us - it was wonderful to see everyone's stories. As we had over 1,000 entries the competition was very fierce!

We have now chosen an overall winner, and a Top 5 list of runners-up. We will be posting extracts from all 6 of the stories - the winner and the Top 5 runners-up - to our website over the coming days. And now...

It is with great pleasure that we can announce that the Winner of the DFB Master of the Inkpot Competition 2015 is...

THE IMPOSSIBLE BOY by Leonie Agnew

The Impossible Boy follows the story of Vincent, an imaginary friend who doesn't know he’s not real. Set during a fictional war, he focuses his energy on protecting six year-old Benjamin, until a sinister monster reveals the terrible truth... 

Leonie Agnew is, as well as a writer, a primary school teacher and former advertising copywriter based in Auckland, New Zealand. 

Huge congratulations, Leonie - you are our first ever Master of the Inkpot! She wins both an editorial meeting to discuss her book with the DFB team, and the exclusive Dave Shelton artwork!

The Impossible Boy impressed us hugely with vivid and wonderfully paced writing, and a very strong voice. It grabbed us from the first page and, in the whole manuscript, wouldn’t let us go until the very end. Our decision was unanimous that it should be the overall winner.

Top 5 Runners-up

In alphabetical order, the Top 5 runners-up are:

  • Eidolon by Sophie Anderson

Paul is sent from a young offenders prison to Tŷ Hapus, a home for mentally ill young adults, because he sees and talks to his sister...who has died. During repeated escape attempts Paul experiences strange phenomena relating to his sister’s appearances, and he becomes increasingly confused as to what is real and what is delusion...

Sophie Anderson grew up in Swansea, studied in Liverpool, and has worked as a geologist and science teacher in several parts of the UK. She now lives in the Lake District with her family where she loves to walk the fells, canoe the lakes, daydream, drink tea, and read and write stories.

  • Why Should I? by Saskia Hampton

A picture book about a curious baby penguin who always asks his parents why he should do what they ask. Their answers aren't entirely true...

Saskia Hampton is a London-born illustrator-writer based in France. Originally having studied literature, she returned to education to do an MA in Children's Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art, which she is in the process of completing (and has found hugely rewarding). She loves, and has always loved, any excuse to lose herself in her imagination and get messy with her art materials.

  • Persephone’s Map by Mathew Iredale

Persephone Dashwood lives in a ramshackle large, old house with her parents. But when they mysteriously vanish in a storm, her Aunt is strangely unsurprised. In fact, she might just know where Persephone’s parents have been taken…

Mathew is a charity fundraiser who has worked for Cancer Research UK, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, Alzheimer's Society and now Shelter, the housing charity. This is his first novel but he has previously written a philosophy book (The Problem of Free Will, published by Routledge in 2012) and two fundraising books; one aimed at schools (Prospecting for Benefactors, 2015) and one aimed at charities (Prospecting for Philanthropists, coming in 2016).

  • Kingdoms by Alex Ivey

Annie is 93 and in a nursing home. She hates it. She resents the bingo and the routine. Rachel’s having to help out there too - and if she messes up one more time, she’ll be sent down to juvenile detention. They form an unlikely friendship - and the secrets of Annie’s past are slowly revealed...


Alex Ivey moved from the US to the UK in 1999 and is a graduate of UEA’s Prose Fiction MA in Creative Writing. Three times longlisted for Mslexia’s Women’s Novel Competition and longlisted for the Bath Children’s Novel Award, she is also a support worker for older people and has worked in the sector since 2005.

  • Phina's Sight by Paul Stapley

Every day at school assembly, Phina and her class practice Sight. They can see into other places. When they do, their minds are transported, but their bodies remain where they are. It’s a skill that only children can use - for an adult, Sight becomes close to impossible. But Phina is quietly rebelling...

Paul Stapley is a teacher of English and of Media Studies and a writer of Young Adults' fiction.

We'd also like to give a bonus special shout-out to Sarah Sells, whose story very nearly made our shortlist - an impressive achievement since she's still at school!

A massive well done to all of our selected stories! Deciding on the best 6 stories from over 1,000 entries was very difficult indeed, let alone deciding the final winner, and it's a real testament to how special these stories are that they have made this list.

Samples of all 6 stories will be appearing on our website over the next week.

Once again - thank you to every single person who took part, and huge congratulations to Leonie, Sophie, Saskia, Mathew, Alex, and Paul.