We are delighted to announce the longlist for the 2024 Discoveries prize! The Discoveries programme, run by the Women’s Prize Trust in partnership with Curtis Brown literary agency, the Curtis Brown Creative writing school and Audible, aims to find emerging female writing talent from across the UK and Ireland.

Between September and January, writers were invited to submit up to 10,000 words of a novel-in-progress, with an emphasis on promise over polish and no limits on genre. We were thrilled to receive nearly 3000 entries from aspiring writers up and down the country.

Our judging panel was chaired by Kate Mosse, international bestselling novelist and Founder Director of the Women’s Prize. Tasked with selecting this year’s longlist, she was joined by authors Natasha Brown and Rowan Hisayo Buchanan; Jess Molloy, Curtis Brown literary agent; and Anna Davis, Founder and Managing Director of Curtis Brown Creative writing school.

Kate Mosse, Chair of Judges, said: “We are delighted that Discoveries continues to grow and make a real difference to new and aspiring writers. This is our fourth year and, again, the judges were blown away by the range of submissions, the imagination and ambition, the diversity of genre and subject matter – novels about climate and love, obsession and horror, origin stories and stories of displacement and loss. Each of our sixteen longlisted authors has a wonderful journey ahead.”

Keep reading to meet this year’s 16 longlisted authors and find out how it feels to be longlisted!

Dunni Abisayo

Dunni Abisayo (they/she) is a gay Nigerian writer based in London. They were shortlisted for the 2024 #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize and have been published in Waxwing Literary Magazine and the Washington Square Review. They studied English Literature and African American Studies at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. Their work-in-progress Rapture is about a queer Nigerian-American college student, Adewunmi, who transfers to a prestigious predominantly white university and becomes involved in an intense Christian group on campus. She grapples with her identity, sexuality and faith and must decide what she is willing to sacrifice to belong.

“Being longlisted has motivated me to get back to my draft and not give in to all of life’s distractions. Writing Rapture has been a long journey, full of ups and downs, and it’s very rewarding to finally start seeing the fruits of my labour.”

Niamh Connolly

Niamh Connolly is an Irish writer, who is currently completing her MA in Prose Fiction at the University of East Anglia. She has a BA degree in English and History from University College Cork. Her writing has appeared on The Gloss and in the Sunday Independent’s Life magazine. Niamh writes to entertain. She feels most inspired when a character or idea takes up residence in her head and refuses to leave her alone. Her novel-in-progress is a retrospective love story, set in Ireland, dealing with bereavement, friendship, financial disparity, miscommunication and loneliness.

“I think it’s quite common for writers to be riddled with self-doubt, especially when you’re in the middle of a work-in-progress and regularly asking yourself the question: Am I going in the right direction? So, to have my project longlisted for the Discoveries Prize is a great boost of confidence, especially as I’m working towards the end of my first draft.”

Catherine De’Freitas

Catherine De’Freitas grew up in Yorkshire but ran away to London to study for a degree in English Literature and never went back. During a career in the heritage sector she has been lucky enough to work in the houses of two celebrated writers, John Keats and William Morris. She began writing as a way of staying sane when her two children were tiny; now (she’s not sure how this happened) they are young adults and she is still writing. She has an MA in Creative Writing and during lockdown also followed a long-time ambition to study History of Art. Her novel The Woman in the Hat is inspired by the story of a portrait and its sitter and was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award. She dreams of living and writing by the sea one day.

“I’m absolutely thrilled! I’ve been grinning madly to myself ever since I read the email – appropriately enough whilst visiting an art gallery on holiday. My novel has been a work-in-progress for a long time so to receive this longlisting now feels like the most wonderful encouragement to keep going. The Women’s Prize for Fiction does so much to celebrate women writers and to be recognised by such a brilliant scheme as Discoveries is an amazing boost.”

Alison Dudeney

A lifelong love of reading inspires Alison’s writing. Born in Surrey, she moved to Suffolk six months before the first lock-down. Redundancy from a career in the pharmaceutical industry was the catalyst for her to finally take writing seriously and study for an MA in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Suffolk. As a writer and visual artist, the nearby Suffolk coastal marshland is hugely inspirational for her abstract painting, poetry and prose. A former psychiatric nurse and executive coach, she is intrigued by people’s thinking and the way it drives their behaviour. Developing this interiority is an important aspect of character development in her writing.

“I was thrilled to see the email in my inbox, I wasn’t expecting it at all. My first thought was, perhaps I can write after all! There is so much self-doubt when you spend hours and hours alone trying to craft a jumbled-up story clearly onto the page for the reader. Being longlisted feels like a real validation of my work. It is incredibly exciting!”

Alice Fletcher

Alice lives in London and writes around the edges of a full-time job in communications. Growing up, she was a compulsive reader with a love of language, stories and imagining other lives and worlds. She went on to study English language and literature at university and, after a brief flirtation with journalism, found another way to work with words for a living. Her novel, The Hungry Dark, is a fantasy about family, loss, hope and the idea that some monsters are more monstrous than others.

“I’ve only ever shared my writing with family, so entering Discoveries felt like a huge leap in the dark. I was surprised and delighted when I found out I’d been longlisted. It feels incredible. It’s left me feeling really energised and determined to make this story the best it can possibly be.”

Sophie Hampton

Sophie was born and grew up in London and now lives with her family in Cambridge. She has an MA in Writing from Sheffield Hallam University for which she won the AM Heath Prize, and a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing from UEA.

Her short fiction has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and widely published in literary magazines and anthologies. She has won the Sean O’Faolain International Short Story Prize, The London Magazine Short Story Competition and HISSAC.

Setting is pivotal to Sophie’s writing and in her debut novel she returns to the East London landscape of her childhood and adolescence. In her PhD she analysed fiction set in tower blocks and was struck by how female characters are consistently portrayed as victims and tower blocks as gendered, hostile environments. In Neighbours, Strangers Sophie gives a voice to strong and subversive female characters and the tower is a key character in itself.

“Incredible – in the truest sense of the word: difficult to believe! I’m encouraged and thrilled that my novel has been chosen as one of sixteen among thousands and chosen by a stellar line up of judges. It has been so hard not to tell everyone, particularly those who have been important in my writing journey!”

Rachel Ifans

By morning a grumpy runner, by day a journalist and by night a wannabe novelist, Rachel lives in Bath with her family. She began her writing career in the mid-nineties on magazines in London. Her travel writing has appeared in the Independent, iPaper, National Geographic and Rough Guides and she indulges her fervent francophilia via her own Substack newsletter, Cartes Postales. She is also an enthusiastic runner and contributes to Women’s Running magazine.

“I was by myself in the house when the email landed and it was surreal. I kept squinting at the message, checking and rechecking it was real. My hand kept coming up and covering my mouth involuntarily, like a schoolgirl giggling at a secret only she knew. It was a funny feeling and I hope I can hold on to the memory of it, as it’s all too rare to feel like that at the age of 51!”

Khadija Isack

Khadija is a London based student with a deep appreciation for literature. She is studying to become a midwife and loves to paint. Khadija has always been reading and writing, drawing inspiration as it comes. A Sum of Small Deaths is an ominous story about strange happenings, that also explores love and friendship.

“It feels really motivating! This is the first time anyone has ever read anything I’ve written so to be longlisted when there were so many amazing entries is a huge confidence boost. I’m so glad I entered.”

Zeynep Kazmaz

Zeynep grew up in Istanbul and currently lives in London. She runs a printing company (but has never printed a book she wrote) and a bookstagram account, successfully avoiding having to think about anything other than books. Having spent her childhood writing stories full of misspelled words, she temporarily gave up on fiction to get a BA in History and an MA in History of Art. In 2019, she moved to London moments before a global pandemic started, where she spent the summer on her sofa working on her thesis and deciding that she wanted to go back to writing things that wouldn’t require footnotes.

She often thinks (and sometimes writes) about being an immigrant who has love/hate relationships with both her old home and her new one.

She cries when she reads the acknowledgements at the end of a book.

“I really struggle to feel like a writer, and I rarely share my fiction writing with anyone else. Being longlisted has made me feel like an actual writer, if that makes sense? It’s such a big step in getting closer to something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m so excited to meet all of the other writers – I’ve never been part of a community of writers before!”

Georgia Moorhouse

Georgia lives in London where she writes alongside her career as a lawyer. Georgia’s interest in writing originated from her love of theatre, and throughout her teens and early twenties she wrote and directed several plays for local theatre groups and at the Edinburgh Fringe. Though still passionate about theatre, Georgia has become more interested in prose writing, particularly following the pandemic where books and reading became her anchor. Henry is her first novel and she hopes to write many more.

“It feels incredible to be longlisted for Discoveries 2024. I’m so grateful for the push this gave me to put my work out there at this early stage, and the opportunity to learn from it. I write a lot for myself and my own entertainment and it means so much to me that other people have also enjoyed my writing. This has been such a boost to my enthusiasm and my determination to keep writing.”

Lauren Mulvihill

From Co. Waterford, Ireland and currently based in Bristol, Lauren Mulvihill spends most of her time writing, thinking about writing, and knitting. With a background in traditional storytelling, much of her work merges contemporary narratives with Irish folklore and oral storytelling traditions (she loves a bit of magical realism). Outside writing, Lauren has a longstanding interest in indie publishing: after graduating with a BA in Criminology in 2018 and an MA in Creative Writing in 2019, she co-founded and published two issues of ‘Malefaction’, a crime/genre blend literary magazine. In Silence I Hear follows the residents of a remote Irish village that is disappearing floor-by-floor.

“I’m absolutely delighted! I was so pleasantly surprised when I got the email. I’m still a bit stunned that the judges enjoyed my work enough to include it on the longlist. I’d been struggling with the direction of this project recently, so this news is a really encouraging sign that I’m heading the right way with it.”

Caithlin Ng

Caithlin is a London-based writer who grew up in Singapore. She holds a BA in English from the University of Cambridge and an MA in Modern Literature from University College London. She has always been interested in female stories and myths, particularly those that subvert traditional structures and roles. These themes are explored in her work-in-progress, Muse – which follows the relationship between a writer and his subject.

Caithlin’s poetry and prose have been published in Underwood Press, Eunoia Review and Rust + Moth. In between writing, she spends her time making cups of coffee and convincing her cat to love her.

“Unexpected – but so, so exciting. When you’re writing, it can be hard to know whether something is working or where it’s going. It’s wonderful to know there’s a good story within this novel. As a reader, I’m also excited to become part of the wider Women’s Prize community.”

KJ Pearce

KJ Pearce is a Southern Gothic writer who was born and raised in rural Central Florida. A 2019 graduate of Rollins College, KJ has been published by Fiction Southeast, and was a 2018 panellist at the Other Words Literary Festival in Tampa, Florida. In 2021, she received the Fulbright Post-Graduate Award to the University of Glasgow to complete an MLitt in creative writing. Currently residing in Glasgow, she enjoys reading, hiking, going to the gym, and finding the best cafes and bakeries.

“Incredible! I was really surprised and feel so honored to be selected. It’s a big reminder that I have something worth writing and worth sharing.”

Nalisha Vansia

Nalisha grew up in Leicester before moving to London to study English Literature at UCL. She now works as an Editorial Assistant in publishing, happily getting paid to be constantly surrounded by books. Her favourite kind are contemporary literary novels that explore the messiness of love, identity and race. Inspired by photographs from her family in ‘70s and ‘80s Britain, her part-contemporary, part-historical novel Not This Again combines the British Asian writing of that period with a current storyline that speaks to her experience. Nalisha wrote it as a coming-of-age story for both generations.

“Unexpected and wonderful! It fills me with hope to know that after quietly (and very slowly) chipping away at this project, it may have the potential to see the light of day in the future.”

Sophie Wing

Raised in the 90s in a house full of vinyl, VHS tapes, and Brontë novels, Sophie started writing as a child and hasn’t stopped since. After studying English Literature at the University of Exeter she moved to her mother’s hometown, London, where she does a job that she loves (and which no one has ever heard of). As well as writing, she crams her free time with myriad hobbies and pop-culture obsessions. Her novel, And in the Mirror, You, is inspired by a youth spent reading His Dark Materials, Persuasion, and Margaret Atwood, and brings together her passions for speculative sci-fi and epic, angsty love stories.

“Being longlisted feels genuinely astonishing. As a writer I’m not often lacking for words, but getting the email left me speechless. With one glance at my phone I went from running mundane errands to wandering in a delighted daze all afternoon. Even now I’m in disbelief. I’m hugely grateful to the judges and the Discoveries team for putting faith in me and this story, and for the reassurance which comes with that.”

Jess Worsdale

Jess Worsdale grew up in the New Forest, spent most of her twenties in Dublin and now lives in Belfast with her partner. She studied Chinese at the University of Cambridge before working in events management, first for Google and now in the charity sector.

In 2022 she took a leap of faith and quit her job to study for an MA in Creative Writing at UEA, where she wrote the first draft of her speculative fiction novel – set in near-future Dublin, for fans of Emily St. John Mandel, Jessie Greengrass and the TV series Severance.

Away from the desk, Jess enjoys long-distance hiking and wild camping. She is happiest halfway up a hill, eating dehydrated meals in the rain and embracing the type-two fun.

“Writing this novel has been the most rewarding and most challenging thing I’ve ever done, so it feels incredible for it to be recognised in this way. It’s surreal – brilliant, but surreal – to think that strangers have connected with the people and the world I’ve imagined. I had to keep double-checking the email!”

Congratulations to all 16 longlisted writers – we can’t wait to follow your exciting writing journeys!

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