Meet the Judges

Rebecca Burns

Rebecca Burns is writer of short stories and fiction. Her work has been published in over thirty online and print journals, including The London Magazine, Words With Jam, Per Contra, and Controlled Burn. She has won or been placed in many competitions: Fowey Festival of Words and Music Short Story Competition, 2013 (winner and runner-up in 2014), Black Pear Press Short Story Competition (2014, winner), University of Sunderland Short Story Award (2016, longlisted), Evesham Festival Story Competition (2016, shortlisted) and Chipping Norton Short Story Award (2016, shortlisted). Her debut collection of short stories, Catching the Barrmundi, was published by Odyssey Books in 2012 and was longlisted for the Edge Hill Award, the UK’s only prize for short story collections. Her second collection, The Settling Earth (2014) was also longlisted for the Edge Hill.

She sits on the Steering Committee of the Grace Dieu Writer’s Group in Coalville. She has been profiled by the University’s Grassroutes Project as one of the 50 best transcultural writers in the county. She lives in Leicestershire with her husband and young family. Her debut novel, The Bishop’s Girl, was published by Odyssey Books in 2016.

Rebecca Burns will act as our chair of judges.

Divya Ghelani

Divya Ghelani is a writer from Loughborough, Leicestershire. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and an MPhil in Literary Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She pens stories every day and has published in Litro: India, The Times, The Bookseller, BareLit, among others. Divya’s unpublished manuscript has been longlisted for the 2016 Deborah Rogers Writers’ Award, the 2016 SI Leeds Literary Prize and also received an Honorary Commendation in the Harry Bowling Prize for New Writing. Divya is the recipient of a Writing East Midlands Apprenticeship, a Literary Consultancy Mentorship. She is currently an Apprentice with London’s premier short story salon, The Word Factory and will be a 2017 Word Factory Writer in Residence at Waterstone’s Piccadilly.

Grace Haddon

Grace Haddon is a Leicester writer of fantasy fiction. She is currently in her final year of a creative writing degree at the University of Nottingham, where she was the editor of the class anthology, Vices and Virtues. In 2015 she won Malorie Blackman’s Project Remix competition, and has since been shortlisted for the HG Wells Short Story Competition. She is on the writing team of The Big Care Write-Up, a Leicester writing initiative which produces ebooks for charity. Her story Zenith was included in Dahlia Publishing’s Lost and Found anthology.

Debbie James

Debbie James graduated with a Bachelors and Masters in music from the university of Leeds and the conservatoire in Weimar, Germany before teaching and freelancing on orchestral percussion and drum kit. In 2007 she moved to Leicestershire to work for Premier Drum Company before deciding on a career as a bookseller. She opened The Bookshop Kibworth in 2009 and the shop has since won Regional Independent Bookshop of the Year, Vintage Independent Bookshop of the Year, Caboodle Bookshop of the Month and three James Patterson Awards for its work promoting children’s books. In August 2016 the shop doubled in size, moving into a second storey upstairs. Debbie has run the Kibworth Book Festival since 2013, been a judge on the East Midlands Book Award and is currently Leicestershire’s ambassador for the Booksellers Association’s Bookseller Network and sits on their Independent Booksellers Forum panel.


Nina Stibbe

Nina Stibbe was born in Leicester. Her first book, Love, Nina, was shortlisted for the Waterstones Book of the Year Award and won Non-Fiction Book of the Year at the 2014 National Book Awards, and was made into a television series for BBC1 and broadcast last year. Her massively acclaimed novel Man at the Helm, was shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction. Her third book, Paradise Lodge comes out in paperback in March 2017. She lives in Cornwall.