Matt Haig hires Riot for personal PR brief

Matt Haig (c) Kan Lailey

International bestselling author Matt Haig has appointed Riot Communications to manage his personal PR.

2021 is a particularly exciting year for Haig. Hot on the heels of the success of The Midnight Library comes the eagerly anticipated The Comfort Book. Published by Canongate in July, it’s been described as a ‘collection of little islands of hope’, written by the author during the past year. It follows Haig’s non-fiction hits Reasons to Stay Alive and Notes on a Nervous Planet and features his trademark mix of philosophy, memoir and self-reflection, building on the wisdom of philosophers and survivors through the ages, from Marcus Aurelius to Nellie Bly, Emily Dickinson to James Baldwin.

A Mouse Called Miika – a spin-off adventure story from a favourite character in A Boy Called Christmas – will be published by Canongate in October, before the global release of the movie adaptation of A Boy Called Christmas in the run up to Christmas. Co-written and directed by Academy Award nominee Gil Kenan (Monster House), A Boy Called Christmas features an all-star cast – including Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Sally Hawkins, Toby Jones, Kristen Wiig and Stephen Merchant – and will be released in cinemas by StudioCanal and on Sky Cinema and NOW TV in the UK & Ireland, whilst Netflix will release in the rest of the world.

Riot will work closely with Haig’s agents, as well as UK and international partners across publishing, film and TV, managing his media and event appearances.

Preena Gadher, Riot MD said: “I’m hugely excited to be working with Matt again, over 10 years after we helped him and his publisher Canongate launch one of his early novels for young adults, The Radleys. Matt was one of the first authors we worked with when we set up the agency and at the time, we were both at the start of new adventures and got on well. Since then, Matt’s career has gone stratospheric, and I’m delighted that we have the opportunity to now work together again.”

Matt Haig said: “It’s so comforting to feel in safe hands with a company who understand you as a client. They are great at having an intelligent approach to the media rather than having a yes to everything attitude.”

Image credit: Kan Lailey

Debuts from independent presses celebrated on Desmond Elliott Prize longlist 2021

The National Centre for Writing (NCW) has today announced the 10-strong longlist for the £10,000 Desmond Elliott Prize, which will be awarded to the most outstanding first novel of the past 12 months. 

The Prize – which is presented in the name of the late, acclaimed literary agent and publisher Desmond Elliott – has longlisted six titles from independent publishers, including Faber, Granta Books, Saraband, Scribe, and Tramp Press. Crowdfunding publisher Unbound makes the longlist for the first time this year, with Crow Court by Andy Charman. The longlist also features strong contenders from Orion, Little Brown, and Penguin Random House imprints Viking and William Heinemann.

The 2021 Desmond Elliott Prize longlist in full (alphabetically by author surname):

  • The Manningtree Witches by A. K. Blakemore – Granta Books
  • Crow Court by Andy Charman – Unbound
  • Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan – Weidenfeld & Nicolson/Orion Publishing Group
  • How We Are Translated by Jessica Gaitán Johannesson – Scribe
  • Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez – Dialogue Books/Little Brown Book Group
  • Castles from Cobwebs by J.A. Mensah – Saraband
  • Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson – Viking/Penguin Random House
  • A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa – Tramp Press
  • little scratch by Rebecca Watson – Faber
  • The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams – William Heinemann/Penguin Random House

The longlist features two works of historical fiction: Andy Charman’s Crow Court, which chronicles the lives of the residents of a Dorset market town in the mid-19th century, and The Manningtree Witches, from poet A. K. Blakemore, which plunges readers into the fever of the English witch trials of the 17th century.

Self-discovery emerges as a theme; in A Ghost in the Throat, a fluid hybrid of essay and autofiction, Doireann Ní Ghríofa tells a tale about finding your voice by freeing another’s. Castles from Cobwebs, by University of York lecturer J.A. Mensah, follows a foundling’s transition from innocence to understanding as she is called to Accra after the sudden death of her biological mother, while Naoise Dolan explores the experience of a young woman leaving her home in Ireland in Exciting Times. Writer and photographer Caleb Azumah Nelson provides an insight into race and masculinity in the love story Open Water, while voice actor and performing member of two theatre companies, Paul Mendez, explores race, class, sexuality, freedom and religion across generations, time and cultures in Rainbow Milk.

How We Are Translated, by bookseller and activist Jessica Gaitán Johannesson, questions identity through an exploration of language. Similarly, The Liar’s Dictionary, by Royal Holloway lecturer Eley Williams, follows a character who aims to discover the secret to living a meaningful life through words. 

Rebecca Watson, Assistant Arts Editor at the Financial Times, rounds out the list with little scratch, which tells the story of a day in the life of an unnamed woman processing recent sexual violence.

Peggy Hughes, Programme Director at the National Centre for Writing, said: 

“We’re delighted to announce a longlist that asks questions of us, with this year’s debut novels exploring themes of self-discovery and language, as well as the nuances of British history and culture through the lens of female and Black experience. We’re looking forward to hearing Lisa, Chitra and Simon’s thoughts on these captivating and thought-provoking debuts.”

This year’s chair of judges, and winner of the 2016 Desmond Elliott Prize, Lisa McInerney, said:

“It is a personal delight to chair the judging panel of the Desmond Elliott Prize five years after Iain Pears, Sam Baker and Katy Guest chose The Glorious Heresies as their winner. So we can keep literature in rude health, a writer who finds success should never pull the ladder up after herself, and this is one way for me to hold that ladder for emerging writers, to pass on the welcome and encouragement and assistance I’ve been so lucky to get from my peers. This is why I was so pleased to hear of the inclusion of a programme of support from the National Centre for Writing — what a positive and important expansion to the prize. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Chitra, Simon and I.”

McInerney will be joined by journalist and author Chitra Ramaswamy and book reviewer and broadcaster Simon Savidge. They are together tasked with deciding which novel to crown as the best debut of the last 12 months. A shortlist will be announced on 1st June and the winner will be announced on 1st July.

The Desmond Elliott Prize is run by the NCW as the flagship in its Early Career Awards portfolio. This also includes the UEA New Forms Award, worth £4,000, for an innovative and daring new voice in fiction and The Laura Kinsella Fellowship, also worth £4,000, which recognises an exceptional writer who has experienced limiting circumstances or whose voice has been underrepresented in mainstream literary fiction. The winners of all three awards will be announced on 1st July, and all will benefit from a tailored programme of support from the National Centre for Writing, supported by Arts Council England. 

Riot x Fane

Fane Productions has appointed Riot Communications to lead its PR efforts. The production company has been an exciting challenger in the live events space in recent years, working with a variety of talent, many in the publishing space, to produce high-profile and high-quality live shows. In the past 6 months, Fane successfully launched a powerful online events arm, already boasting over half a million visitors to their site a month, and 60,000 new online subscribers, many of whom have never attended a literary event before.

Working with Riot, Fane will showcase the organisation’s capability to work with publishers and talent of all sizes in a mutually beneficial way, continuing to deliver exciting and engaging events to a broad audience.

Preena Gadher, Riot MD, said: “Live events has had a radical shake-up since COVID-19 and I have been very impressed with how Fane, already known for delivering polished events, reacted and adapted to meet the challenges of the new world. To me, that shows great leadership and tenacity, and a business with its finger clearly on the pulse. That makes Fane an exciting client to partner with.”

Alex Fane, Founder and MD of Fane, commented: “We’re delighted to be working with Riot on the next chapter for Fane. They delivered a vision that was both challenging and innovative which fits perfectly with how we run the business. Having become an independent company and launched our online programme there is a huge amount to be talking about and we can’t wait to get started.”

Riot is named a finalist in the Don’t Panic Company Culture Awards

Riot has been shortlisted for Best Small Agency to Work For in the Company Culture Awards, sponsored by Don’t Panic.

The awards recognise innovative workplace practices and entrants were judged on a number of factors including wellbeing initiatives, development and training programmes, and inspiring working environments.

Preena Gadher, Riot MD, said: “Together with my team, we’ve strived to create a workplace culture where people feel supported, inspired to reach their potential and most importantly to me, can show up to work and feel they belong. Though we certainly don’t do it for the awards, it’s great to have our ethos and hard work validated.”

The winners will be announced on 27th April.

Shortlists announced for 2021 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals

  • Judges praise a shortlist “offering hope and escapism during lockdown” through its exploration of freedom, the great outdoors and journeys through the natural world
  • The female lens is prominent with 11 out of the 16 shortlisted authors and illustrators being women
  • Seven first-time shortlistees, including debut novelist Manjeet Mann in the running alongside four former winners: Elizabeth Acevedo, Ruta Sepetys, Catherine Rayner and Sydney Smith
  • For the very first time in the history of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist, all books have been illustrated and authored by the same creator

The shortlists of the prestigious CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, the UK’s oldest and best-loved book awards for children and young people, were announced today for 2021.

The Medals celebrate outstanding achievement in children’s writing and illustration respectively and are unique in being judged by librarians, with the Shadowers’ Choice Award voted for by children and young people. 16 titles have been shortlisted for the 2021 Medals (8 on each shortlist) selected from a total of 40 longlisted titles, read by an expert volunteer team of 15 librarians from across the UK.

Explorations of nature and the great outdoors are key recurring features across this year’s shortlists including: Starbird, by Sharon King-Chai, a mythical tale of a singing Starbird caged by a Moon King; How The Stars Came To Be, a creation story around the formation of the night sky by Poonam Mistry, who was previously shortlisted for You’re Safe With Me in 2019, and You’re Snug With Me in 2020; and Arlo: The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep, by former CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal winner Catherine Rayner (Harris Finds His Feet, 2009), a story of an exhausted lion that captures nature’s awe and majesty.

The wonders of the wilderness are also brought vividly to life by first time shortlistee Pete Oswald in Hike, an appreciation of fresh air and the importance of sustainability. Whilst previous winner Sydney Smith (2018 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for Town Is By The Sea) depicts a claustrophobic outdoors in Small In The City, offering a survival guide to the loud, busy and often overwhelming city streets.

Themes of freedom and space are also evident in Look Both Ways, by previously shortlisted Jason Reynolds, the US National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, which tells 10 intertwining stories about the independent adventures of the unsupervised walk home from school; The Bird Within Me, illustrated by Sara Lundberg, which follows a girl who finds it difficult to escape family responsibilities; and Manjeet Mann, the writer and producer of several one-woman shows, who secures her first shortlisting for her debut verse novel Run, Rebel, about a girl who runs in quiet rebellion to escape an arranged marriage.

The female lens is prominent this year with 11 out of 16 shortlisted books created by women and nine books featuring stories with female lead protagonists including: Clap When You Land, about the devastation of loss and the difficulty of forgiveness by former winner Elizabeth Acevedo, who became the first writer of colour to win the CILIP Carnegie Medal in 2019 with The Poet X; and The Girl Who Became a Tree by performance poet and playwright Joseph Coelho, where the myth of Daphne and Apollo combines with a story of a girl struggling to make sense of loss.

Themes of self-discovery feature across several books including: The Girl Who Speaks Bear, written by Sophie Anderson, about a girl found in a bear cave as a baby; On Midnight Beach by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, about a character and communities on the cusp of change; The Fountains Of Silence, from Ruta Sepetys  (2017 CILIP Carnegie Medal winner with Salt To The Sea), a story of identity, love and the hidden violence of silence in General Franco’s Spain; and I Go Quiet, by David Ouimet, about a shy, anxious girl finding her voice.

The importance of close relationships is reflected strongly in two shortlisted titles: Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk (previously shortlisted for Beyond the Bright Sea in 2018), with friendship at the heart of an inverse rags to riches story set in 1933; and It’s A No-Money Day, by Kate Milner, which explores the richness of togetherness between mother and child.

In a first for this year, all the books on the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist have been illustrated and authored by the same creator.

This year also sees seven first-time shortlistees – Marie Louise-Fitzpatrick, Manjeet Mann, Sharon King-Chai, Sara Lundberg, Kate Milner, Pete Oswald and David Ouimet – in the running alongside four former winners: Elizabeth Acevedo and Ruta Sepetys (CILIP Carnegie Medal), and Catherine Rayner and Sydney Smith (CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal).

Ellen Krajewski, Chair of the 2021 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel, comments:

“With themes of freedom, the great outdoors and journeys through the natural world, we hope the outstanding books on this year’s shortlists will inspire and empower young readers, offering hope and escapism during lockdown. The collective experience of books is more important than ever this year, providing opportunities for children and young people to reconnect and share their reading experiences with one another as they return to school. We can’t wait to see the creative responses from this year’s shadowers and discover who they will vote as their favourites to win the Shadowers’ Choice Awards. And what amazing books they have to choose from! Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors and illustrators for their exceptional and creative work.”

The 2021 shortlists are as follows:

2021 CILIP Carnegie Medal shortlist (alphabetical by author surname):

  1. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (Hot Key Books)
  2. The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson, illustrated by Kathrin Honesta (Usborne)
  3. The Girl Who Became A Tree by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Kate Milner (Otter-Barry Books)
  4. On Midnight Beach by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick (Faber)
  5. Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann (Penguin Random House Children’s)
  6. Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (Knights Of)
  7. The Fountains Of Silence by Ruta Sepetys (Penguin Random House Children’s)
  8. Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk (Penguin Random House Children’s)

2021 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist (alphabetical by illustrator surname):

  1. Starbird illustrated and written by Sharon King-Chai (Two Hoots)
  2. The Bird Within Me illustrated by Sara Lundberg and translated by B. J. Epstein (Book Island)
  3. It’s A No-Money Day illustrated and written by Kate Milner (Barrington Stoke)
  4. How The Stars Came To Be illustrated and written by Poonam Mistry (Tate Publishing)
  5. Hike illustrated and written by Pete Oswald (Walker Books)
  6. I Go Quiet illustrated and written by David Ouimet (Canongate)
  7. Arlo The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep illustrated and written by Catherine Rayner (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  8. Small In The City illustrated and written by Sydney Smith (Walker Books)

The winners of the 2021 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals will be announced on Wednesday 16th June 2021. Covid-19 guidelines permitting, a socially distanced special daytime event will be held at The British Library and live-streamed online.

The winners will each receive £500 worth of books to donate to their local library, a specially commissioned golden medal and a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize.

Now in its third year, the Shadowers’ Choice Award – voted for and awarded by the children and young people who shadow the Medals – will be announced alongside the two Medal winners in June 2021. This award has evolved out of CILIP’s Diversity Review, which identified opportunities to empower and celebrate the young people involved in the Medals through the shadowing scheme.

The London Review of Books appoints Riot for the third year in a row

The London Review of Books, Europe’s leading magazine of culture and ideas, has re-appointed Riot following another successful 12 months of PR work, driving the promotion of the magazine and helping to increase subscribers, as well as raising the profile of the London Review Bookshop.

Alongside continuing to generate stand-out pieces of national media attention for the magazine, we worked closely with the bookshop team as Covid took hold and the conversation shifted to how independent bookshops were surviving the pandemic. We highlighted the LRB’s unique strengths through a variety of features and interviews, including an Evening Standard story about the ways the bookshop adapted, a Stylist piece about the bookshop’s lockdown offering, and interviews with bookshop staff in the trade press about how the ongoing restrictions impacted the industry. We also brokered a partnership between the bookshop and University College London in order to successfully boost online orders.

Published twice monthly, the London Review of Books provides a space for some of the world’s best writers to explore a wide variety of subjects in longform, from science and technology to art and poetry. The LRB is renowned as an exponent of the intellectual essay, admired globally for its fearlessness, its range and its elegance.

Preena Gadher, Riot MD, said: “We are so pleased to be working with the LRB for the third year in a row, and are looking forward to bringing more attention to the magazine and bookshop in the coming year. Riot is all about promoting big ideas and new thinking, so it is natural for us to champion the LRB. As one of the few remaining publications committed to long-form writing and brilliant analysis, it knows that the best thinking deserves time and space.”

Reneé Doegar, Commercial Director at the London Review of Books, said: “Despite the upheaval of the world this past year, Riot has been a rock. The team has always remained loyal, professional, hard-working, efficient, responsive and supportive. We feel very lucky to have Riot on side and are excited to see where this next year takes us together!”

The Riot Culture Drop: LGBT+ History Month

This post is taken from our latest issue of The Riot Culture Drop. Sign up for further newsletters below.

For many of us in the queer community, LGBT+ History Month is a chance to remember our pioneers, but also a moment to promote a more inclusive society where the varied spectrum of sexuality and gender is celebrated.

With queer visibility in culture at an all-time high, it’s easy to forget that reported levels of homophobic hate crime are up by 160% over the last 5 years (while Stonewall reports that 81% of homophobic attacks are not reported to the police at all). And following years of children growing up hearing nothing positive about LGBTQ+ people thanks to Section 28, it has taken over three decades for it to finally be compulsory for schools to teach pupils about sexual orientation, gender identity, and different families (since September 2020).

Growing up queer under Section 28 was grim, believe me. So cultural visibility provided a much needed lifeline. Not all portrayals were positive – queer serial killers, crazy lesbians and deceitful trans characters were rife in the 90s – but there were some shining examples in books, TV and films, which for many of us were important markers of our existence: storylines on Brookside and EastEnders, Russell T Davies’ ground-breaking Queer As Folk, Hanif Kureishi’s My Beautiful Laundrette (a rare intersectional experience), authors like Jeanette Winterson, and characters such as Ellen, Rickie in My So-Called Life and hell, even Susan and Carol on Friends!

Cultural representation of the LGBTQ+ community has come a long way since then, and TV for adults currently leads the way. But the disconnect between the screen and the street remains, and as queerness becomes increasingly marketable, who profits tells a very different story (clue: it’s rarely someone who is actually LGBTQ+).

For this issue of The Riot Culture Drop, we’ve chosen to share a handful of our favourite and more recent examples of queer culture – no doubt some of these are a ray of light for somebody, somewhere.

Happy LGBT+ Month.


Preena Gadher, Co-founder and MD, Riot Communications


“We should support good sh*t that just happens to be black”, says lead character Hattie, who just happens to be queer. Rising star Lena Waithe (Master of None, The Chi, Queen & Slim) delivers the fresh comedy drama Twenties (BBC iPlayer) about a trio of female friends trying to make it in Hollywood.

HIV test requests hit a record high after It’s A Sin aired (Channel 4 / All 4), demonstrating the real world impact of culture and entertainment. It’s Channel 4’s most watched drama ever – if you haven’t tuned in yet, where have you been?

Set in the 1980s, Angels in America follows a group of New Yorkers dealing with their tumultuous lives in the midst of the AIDS crisis and the Reagan administration. The multi-award-winning production with a star-studded cast, including Andrew Garfield and Russell Tovey, was a hot ticket at the time and thankfully has recently been added to the National Theatre at Home streaming service.

“I’m passionate about lending my voice to women, especially women who look like me and never saw themselves, and never saw lesbians on TV in a healthy, out relationship” – Black Lightning star Nafessa Williams discusses what it means to play Thunder, a superhero who is so unapologetic about her queerness, her Blackness and her power.


Diva Magazine has just launched its own book club to celebrate literature by LGBTQ+ authors, which also aims to bring the community closer together over lockdown. The first book is Lullaby Beach by Stella Duffy, who will be speaking live online on 3rd March.

McSweeney’s 62: The Queer Fiction Issue is the latest edition of the renowned literary magazine, featuring a collection of absurd, bold, bleak, humorous and astonishing works of fiction and art by queer writers of all orientations. Contributors include Kristen Arnett and Bryan Washington. It’s also a beautiful object in its own right.

Queer Intentions: A (Personal) Journey Through LGBTQ+ Culture poses and answers questions about what it means to be queer right now. Amelia Abraham mixes honesty with comedy as she shares her own lived experiences, taking us from her crying at the first same-sex marriage in Britain, to parties in the clubs of Turkey’s underground LGBTQ+ scene.

Based on the website QueerBible.com founded by model and activist Jack Guinness, The Queer Bible is a collection of essays written by queer icons including Elton John, Tan France and Lady Phyll about the queer trailblazers throughout history who inspired them. This will be essential reading when it’s published this June. Pre-order now.

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson is a book about love, queer families, crossing boundaries, and changing bodies: while Nelson’s changes through pregnancy, her partner (the artist Harry Dodge) starts injecting testosterone and has top surgery. Nelson combines cultural criticism with the deeply personal, using each to illuminate the other, with breathtaking effect.


Australian drag royalty Courtney Act and Vanity Faire discuss Polari, gossip and sex positivity in new podcast, Brenda, Call Me. The best friends leave no stone unturned, chatting about drag, the personal and political.

Grab your tissues for the beautifully produced The Log Books – a glimpse into the past of queer life in Britain. Using real calls and an incredible archive of history from the LGBT+ Switchboard, each episode of this podcast centres around logbook entries made by the volunteers who staffed the phones from Switchboard’s first day.


Transgender politics has rarely been out of the news over the past few years, though often it’s not members of the trans community who get to tell the story. Trans Creative was launched in 2017 by Artistic Director Kate O’Donnell as a response to that – a platform to give the trans community a space to “tell our own stories”. This organisation is going from strength to strength and one to watch.

Lastly, our client Bishopsgate Institute houses the biggest LGBTQ+ archive in the country and we have been in awe of the thousands of gems they hold, including the Robert Workman Archive; a collection of over 50,000 photos from the gay scene during the 1970s and 1980s. These images taken at Porchester Hall, West London, document a thriving London ballroom scene.

Longlists announced for 2021 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals

  • Spoken word sensation, Sophia Thakur, longlisted for her debut poetry collection Somebody Give This Heart A Pen, alongside empowering verse novels from Elizabeth Acevedo and Manjeet Mann
  • Mental well-being and learning to cope with loss and grief are recurring themes explored in the longlist
  • The Girl Who Became A Tree by former longlistee Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Kate Milner, is longlisted for both Medals
  • Former CILIP Carnegie winners Elizabeth Acevedo, Patrick Ness, Ruta Sepetys, and CILIP Kate Greenaway winners Catherine Rayner and Sydney Smith in the running for 2021 Medals

The UK’s oldest and best-loved book awards for children and young people, the prestigious CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, today announced the longlists for 2021.

The Medals celebrate outstanding achievement in children’s writing and illustration respectively and are unique in being judged by children’s librarians, with the Shadowers’ Choice Award voted for by children and young people. 40 titles have been longlisted for the 2021 Medals (20 on each longlist) selected from a total of 152 nominations, read by an expert volunteer team of 15 children’s and youth librarians from across the UK.

Verse novels and poetry anthologies are well represented this year, with several examining mental well-being and coping with loss, a recurring theme within the longlist. Former winner Elizabeth Acevedo, who became the first writer of colour to win the CILIP Carnegie medal in 2019 with The Poet X, only the second novel written in verse ever to win (the first being Sarah Crossan’s One in 2016), is longlisted for Clap When You Land, about the devastation of loss and the difficulty of forgiveness. Manjeet Mann receives her first longlisting for verse novel Run, Rebel, about a girl who runs in quiet rebellion to escape her claustrophobic home life, alongside first time longlistee Aimee Lucido for In the Key Of Code, which weaves together the beauty of music, coding and language. Poetry collections also feature with Somebody Give This Heart A Pen by Sophia Thakur, exploring issues of identity, difference, perseverance, relationships, fear, loss and joy; and The Girl Who Became A Tree, a story of a girl struggling to make sense of loss; the only book this year to be in the running for both Medals. Performance poet and writer Joseph Coelho is longlisted with illustrator Kate Milner, who is also included on the CILIP Kate Greenaway longlist for illustrating It’s A No-Money Day.

Additional former Carnegie Medal winners returning are: two-time winner Patrick Ness (Monsters Of Men, 2011, and A Monster Calls, 2012) who is longlisted for Burn; and 2017 winner Ruta Sepetys (Salt To The Sea), longlisted for The Fountains Of Silence, a story of identity, love and the hidden violence of silence. Two previous CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal winners are again in the running: 2009 winner Catherine Rayner (Harris Finds His Feet), is longlisted for Arlo The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep alongside Sydney Smith for Small In The City, following his win in 2018 (Town Is by the Sea).

Debut novels make their mark on the longlist with Katya Balen’s The Space We’re In, a frank and honest exploration of life with a neuro-divergent child; and Danielle Jawando’s, And The Stars Were Burning Brightly, the story of a teenage boy whose world falls apart when his brother takes his own life.

Coping with death is also explored in My Nana’s Garden, illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle, a rhyming text story about learning to deal with grief; and Tibble And Grandpa, illustrated by Daniel Egneus, about a grieving grandparent hiding away in his garden. Illustrator Eva Eland also examines handling difficult emotions in Where Happiness Begins, receiving a consecutive Kate Greenaway longlisting (When Sadness Comes To Call, 2020).

Girls’ voices are loud in this year’s list with young adult narratives driven by female perspectives in Beverly, Right Here, the conclusion of author Kate DiCamillo’s sequence of novels about the beloved Three Rancheros; Furious Thing, written by Jenny Downham, explores the ways a girl’s sense of self can be whittled away and what might happen when she fights back; and I Go Quiet, illustrated by David Ouimet, covers the themes of introversion, finding your voice, and the enduring strength of hope.

Curiosity and the joy of discovery feature in several longlistings including: Just Because, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, observes the innocent magic of an inquisitive child’s mind; Look Both Ways, written by Jason Reynolds, is ten intertwining stories about the unsupervised independence of the walk home from school; and The Misadventures Of Frederick, illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark, is a playful tale about making friends and having adventures outside together.

Myths, legends, magic and folk tales loom large in the pages of several titles across both the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway lists this year including: The Girl Who Speaks Bear, a magical folk tale from author Sophie Anderson; The Deathless Girls, the untold story of the brides of Dracula, written by Kiran Millwood Hargrave; Deeplight from author Frances Hardinge, about a friendship as deep as the waters concealing relics of undersea gods; The Fate Of Fausto, a modern-day fable about a man who believed he owned everything, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers; Starbird, illustrated by Sharon King-Chai, a story of freedom and love about the Moon King and a legendary gift to mark his daughter’s birth; How The Stars Came To Be, a folk tale articulating a magical understanding of the night sky,  from illustrator Poonam Mistry with her third consecutive longlisting (You’re Safe With Me, 2019 and You’re Snug With Me, 2020); and an ancient Irish legend is rewoven in On Midnight Beach, written by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick.

A variety of historical time periods are reflected in the longlists with The Short Knife, by Elen Caldecott, exploring Saxon Britain and the evolution of its languages; The Wind In The Wall, illustrated by Rovina Cai and set in eighteenth century England against a backdrop of a stately home; The Bird Within Me, illustrated by Sara Lundberg, about a young girl growing up in the Swedish countryside at the beginning of the twentieth century; Echo Mountain, written by Lauren Wolk, is set in 1933 and tells the story of a family who flee to a mysterious mountain to start a new life after they lose everything; and After The War, written by Tom Palmer, a moving war-time novel inspired by the true story of the Windermere Boys.

First time longlistees include illustrator Richard Jones for The Child Of Dreams, about a little girl who wants to know where she came from and why she doesn’t have a father; illustrator David Litchfield for Lights On Cotton Rock, about a little girl who wants to go to Outer Space; Hike, illustrated by Pete Oswald, is an appreciation of the wonders of the wilderness and the importance of sustainability; Hidden Planet, by illustrator Ben Rothery, reveals the secrets of the animals across our planet; Dandelion’s Dream, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka, tells the story of a flower that blooms into a real lion who can explore the world without roots; and writer Akwaeke Emezi for Pet, a monster tale set in a future where evil is said to have been eradicated.

Ellen Krajewski, Chair, CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel, comments:

“The talent and imagination on display across 2021’s longlist is truly inspiring. The variety of stories, the creativity in how those stories have been lovingly crafted, and the relatability of the characters and their experiences has been a joy for all the judges to behold. The Awards’ mission is to empower the next generation to shape a better world through books and reading, which is undoubtedly what this longlist helps to achieve, inviting children stuck indoors during lockdown to open the door to a myriad of fun and exciting places and be transported. Congratulations to all the authors and illustrators for their exceptional and transformative work.”

The shortlists for both the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals 2021 will be announced on Thursday 18th March 2021, with the winners announced on Wednesday 16th June 2021. Covid-19 guidelines permitting a socially distanced special daytime event will be held at The British Library and live-streamed online.

The winners will each receive £500 worth of books to donate to their local library, a specially commissioned golden medal and a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize.

Now in its third year, the Shadowers’ Choice Award – voted for and awarded by the children and young people who shadow the Medals – will be announced alongside the two Medal winners in June 2021. This award has evolved out of CILIP’s Diversity Review, which identified opportunities to empower and celebrate the young people involved in the Medals through the shadowing scheme.

The 2021 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are sponsored by Peters and ALCS, and funded by Carnegie UK Trust.

2021 CILIP Carnegie Medal longlist (alphabetical by author surname):

  1. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (Hot Key Books)
  2. The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson, illustrated by Kathrin Honesta (Usborne)
  3. The Space We’re In by Katya Balen, illustrated by Laura Carlin (Bloomsbury)
  4. The Short Knife by Elen Caldecott (Andersen Press)
  5. The Girl Who Became A Tree by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Kate Milner (Otter-Barry Books)
  6. Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo (Walker Books)
  7. Furious Thing by Jenny Downham (David Fickling Books)
  8. Pet by Akwaeke Emezi (Faber)
  9. On Midnight Beach by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick (Faber)
  10. Deeplight by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  11. And The Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando (Simon & Schuster)
  12. In The Key Of Code by Aimee Lucido (Walker Books)
  13. Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann (Penguin Random House Children’s)
  14. The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (Orion)
  15. Burn by Patrick Ness (Walker Books)
  16. After The War by Tom Palmer (Barrington Stoke)
  17. Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (Knights Of)
  18. The Fountains Of Silence by Ruta Sepetys (Penguin Random House Children’s)
  19. Somebody Give This Heart A Pen by Sophia Thakur (Walker Books)
  20. Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk (Penguin Random House Children’s)

2021 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal longlist (alphabetical by illustrator surname): 

  1. Just Because illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, written by Mac Barnett (Walker Books)
  2. The Wind In The Wall illustrated by Rovina Cai, written by Sally Gardner (Hot Key Books)
  3. The Misadventures Of Frederick illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark, written by Ben Manley (Two Hoots)
  4. My Nana’s Garden illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle, written by Dawn Casey (Templar)
  5. Tibble And Grandpa illustrated by Daniel Egneus, written by Wendy Meddour (Oxford University Press)
  6. Where Happiness Begins illustrated and written by Eva Eland (Andersen Press)
  7. The Fate Of Fausto illustrated and written by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
  8. The Child Of Dreams illustrated by Richard Jones, written by Irena Brignull (Walker Books)
  9. Starbird illustrated and written by Sharon King-Chai (Two Hoots)
  10. Lights On Cotton Rock illustrated and written by David Litchfield (Frances Lincoln)
  11. The Bird Within Me illustrated by Sara Lundberg and translated by B. J. Epstein (Book Island)
  12. It’s A No-Money Day illustrated and written by Kate Milner (Barrington Stoke)
  13. The Girl Who Became A Tree illustrated by Kate Milner, written by Joseph Coelho (Otter-Barry Books)
  14. How The Stars Came To Be illustrated and written by Poonam Mistry (Tate Publishing)
  15. Hike illustrated and written by Pete Oswald (Walker Books)
  16. I Go Quiet illustrated and written by David Ouimet (Canongate)
  17. Arlo The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep illustrated and written by Catherine Rayner (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  18. Hidden Planet illustrated and written by Ben Rothery (Ladybird)
  19. Small In The City illustrated and written by Sydney Smith (Walker Books)
  20. Dandelion’s Dream illustrated and written by Yoko Tanaka (Walker Books)

Aardman greenlights new CGI series, Lloyd of the Flies, for CITV

The multi-award-winning independent animation studio, Aardman, has greenlit a brand-new comedy series for 7- to 11-year-olds called Lloyd of the Flies.

CITV has acquired 52 x 11-minute episodes, which will be created using a mix of CGI and 2D animation. The production will be a first for Aardman, as it’s the first CGI series the studio will produce entirely from its creative hub at its headquarters in Bristol.

Lloyd of the Flies follows the adventures of Lloyd B Fly, a housefly and the middle child of 453. Lloyd lives with his parents, his little sister PB and their 225 maggot siblings inside a compost bin they call home. In the series, Lloyd and PB are often accompanied by Lloyd’s best friend, Abacus Woodlouse, and eccentric tag-along, Cornea Butterfly. Together they explore the strange world beyond the compost bin, where there is no shortage of lessons for Lloyd to very nearly learn.

Lloyd of the Flies is created and directed by Matt Walker (winner of a jury award at Aspen Shortsfest, Jury Special Mention at Clermont-Ferrand and best graduation film at Annecy Animation Festival 2006). Aardman’s Sarah Cox will act as Executive Creative Director.

Sarah Cox commented: “Matt is such an exciting talent with a unique comic perspective, and we are thrilled to be working with him on Lloyd of the Flies. We think it is a show with real global reach that will ultimately be screened in as many territories as our hugely successful Shaun the Sheep. Lloyd and his misadventures will make both kids and their families laugh and we are delighted to have CITV as a partner – it’s the perfect home for these tiny, funny, colourful characters that Matt has created.”

Matt Walker added: “I cannot wait to bring the witty and weird world of Lloyd to life. It is a life familiar to many of us – as Lloyd tries to prove his worth in a world he doesn’t fully understand, while dealing with friendship, family, the acquisition of food, and not being crushed or eaten. Born out of my love of insects and a punny title, Lloyd of the Flies is a comedy of entomology that draws inspiration from the insects we are used to seeing around the home and gives a glimpse of what they are up to when we are not paying attention.”

Darren Nartey, Acquisitions Manager at ITV, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be working with Aardman to bring Lloyd of The Flies to CITV. It’s a great idea and our audience will love the dynamic British sense of humour.”

Lloyd of the Flies is the flagship project for the government-funded Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF), which is managed by the BFI and supports the creation of distinctive, high-quality content for audiences up to the age of 18. The Fund offers production funding for projects which have secured a broadcast commitment from a UK Public Service Broadcaster to make the programme available to a UK audience on a free-to-access, Ofcom-regulated service.

Jackie Edwards, Head of the Young Audiences Content Fund, BFI, commented: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to help bring Lloyd of The Flies to screen. It’s such a fantastically fun animated series that mirrors contemporary life for children and families across the UK with a fresh British sense of humour.”

The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey named 2020 Costa Book of the Year

  • Writer and memoirist Monique Roffey takes the £30,000 prize with her sixth novel
  • Based on a Taino legend, The Mermaid of Black Conch is a dark love story between a fisherman and a mermaid torn from the sea
  • The judges described the book as ‘a classic in the making from a writer at the height of her powers’
  • Tessa Sheridan, a London-based award-winning screenwriter and director wins the 2020 Costa Short Story Award

The Mermaid of Black Conch: A Love Story (Peepal Tree Press) – a dark love story between a fisherman and a mermaid torn from the sea – the seventh book, and sixth novel, by Trinidadian-born, British writer and memoirist Monique Roffey has been named the 2020 Costa Book of the Year.

The announcement was made this evening (Tuesday 26th January) at a virtual awards ceremony hosted by presenter and broadcaster Penny Smith.

Historian, author and broadcaster, Professor Suzannah Lipscomb, Chair of judges, said, “We loved all of the books and deliberated for three hours before choosing our winner.  The Mermaid of Black Conch is an extraordinary, beautifully written, captivating, visceral book – full of mythic energy and unforgettable characters, including some tremendously transgressive women.”

She continued: “It is utterly original – unlike anything we’ve ever read – and feels like a classic in the making from a writer at the height of her powers.  It’s a book that will take you to the furthest reaches of your imagination – we found it completely compelling.”

Lipscomb chaired a final judging panel that included television and radio presenter Angellica Bell, writer Horatio Clare, novelist Jill Dawson, author Sadie Jones, poet Zaffar Kunial, writer Patrice Lawrence, actor and writer Stephen Mangan and presenter and book vlogger Simon Savidge.

Roffey beat the bookmaker’s favourite, social entrepreneur Lee Lawrence for his debut work, a memoir, The Louder I Will Sing: A story of racism, riots and redemption; writer, artist and academic, Ingrid Persaud for her first novel, Love After Love; the late Irish poet Eavan Boland, posthumously nominated for her final collection, The Historians; and children’s author Natasha Farrant for her 12th book, Voyage of the Sparrowhawk, to win the overall prize of £30,000.

Monique Roffey commented, “I’m delighted with this win. The Costa Book of the Year boasts an impressive lineage of contemporary writers, and I’m proud to be the latest addition to this list. This prestigious prize is a vote for so many things: Caribbean literature, experimental form, magical realism, independent presses, and of course, mermaids. A huge thank you to the judges for exposing my book to a wide readership. I’ll be pinching myself for weeks to come.”

The Mermaid of Black Conch is set in 1976 in a tiny village on the Caribbean island of Black Conch. David, a fisherman, sings to himself in his pirogue, waiting for a catch – and attracts a sea-dweller he doesn’t expect: Aycayia, a beautiful young woman cursed by jealous wives to live as a mermaid, who has been swimming the Caribbean Sea for centuries.

Based on a Taino legend of a beautiful woman transformed into a mermaid, The Mermaid of Black Conch is a story of love, loss, family and friendship, as well as the destructive power of jealousy, and the terrible force of nature.

Published by Peepal Tree Press, The Mermaid of Black Conch is the thirteenth novel to take the overall prize. Days Without End by Sebastian Barry was the last novel to be named Costa Book of the Year in 2016, the second book of his to do so (The Secret Scripture was the first), making him the first novelist ever to achieve this accolade.

Since the introduction of the Book of the Year award in 1985, it has been won 13 times by a novel, five times by a first novel, eight times by a biography, eight times by a collection of poetry and twice by a children’s book. Last year’s Costa Book of the Year was The Volunteer:  The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather.

The Costa Book Awards is the only major UK book prize that is open solely to authors resident in the UK and Ireland and also, uniquely, recognises the most enjoyable books across five categories – First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book – published in the last year.  Originally established in 1971 by Whitbread Plc, Costa announced its takeover of the UK’s most prestigious book prize in 2006. 2019 marks the 49th year of the Book Awards. Both Costa Coffee and the Costa Book Awards will be marking their 50th year anniversaries in 2021.

Many of the books celebrated by the Awards have gone on to be enjoyed by a huge number of readers. The last 10 Costa Book of the Year winners alone have gone on to sell a combined total of just over 1.8 million copies.

Jill McDonald, CEO of Costa Coffee, said, “On behalf of all of us at Costa Coffee, many, many congratulations to Monique Roffey for winning the 2020 Costa Book of the Year. This is a terrific achievement and I wish Monique and the book every continued success. Never have we needed writers more, to transport and connect us to other worlds when this one is so challenging.”

Tessa Sheridan wins 2020 Costa Short Story Award

Also announced at the ceremony was the winner of the Costa Short Story Award. Tessa Sheridan, a London-based writer, screenwriter and director, won the public vote and £3,500 for her story, The Person Who Serves, Serves Again.  Two runners-up – Irish writer Laura-Blaise McDowell from Dublin and Louise Dean, a writer and founder of The Novelry, from Kent – received £1,000 and £500 respectively.

Over 2,000 entries were received for this year’s Costa Short Story Award, now in its ninth year and open to both published and unpublished writers, for a single, previously unpublished short story of up to 4,000 words written in English by an author aged 18 years or over.

Established in 2012, the Award – run in association with the Costa Book Awards but judged independently of the main five-category system – is judged anonymously i.e without the name of the author being known throughout the process.

The shortlist of three stories was selected by a panel of judges comprising Sarah Franklin, founder of Short Stories Aloud and Senior Lecturer in Publishing at Oxford Brookes University; Radio 2 Book Club producer Joe Haddow; agent Simon Trewin; and authors Adele Parks and Kit de Waal, herself a finalist for the 2013 Costa Short Story Award. The stories were then made available on the Costa Book Awards website for the public to download and read, and then vote for their favourite.