We’re thrilled to share that applications are now open for the Affirm Press Mentorship Award with Varuna, the National Writers’ House.

As in the previous two years, the 2021 Affirm Press Mentorship Award will focus exclusively children’s and young adult literature. This year, the call-out is for contemporary middle-grade (9+) and young adult fiction. Affirm Press is keenly interested in seeing a wide range of diverse and authentic voices that aren’t always represented in mainstream publishing.

The three winning writers will receive a week’s residency and manuscript development at Varuna, the National Writers’ House. The Affirm Press kids editorial team will be in residence with the writers to provide in-depth manuscript development and feedback, as well as establishing ongoing relationships with the winners. Affirm Press will have first publishing option for the chosen manuscripts.

The Award has already resulted in three highly regarded published works: Paula Keogh’s Stella Prize longlisted lyrical memoir The Green Bell, Sonia Orchard’s outstanding novel Into the Fire, and the courageous memoir Snakes and Ladders by Angela Williams.

An independent panel of two judges, made up this year of YA authors Melissa Keil and Gary Lonesborough, will choose a shortlist of successful manuscripts and Affirm Press will select the winning three.

Meg Whelan, Coral Huckstep and Sasha Beekman from the Affirm Press kids team said:

‘We have worked with some really exciting and inspiring authors at Varuna over the last few years and we’re delighted to once again be looking for MG and YA authors to join us for an editorial extravaganza in the mountains. After reading some fantastic fantasy and sci-fi last year, we’re shifting our focus to contemporary fiction, and we’re especially keen to see a wide range of voices that aren’t always represented in this genre. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have YA legends Gary and Melissa on board as judges this time around – we can’t wait to see the shortlist they come up with!’

Veechi Stuart, Executive Director of Varuna the National Writers’ House, said:

‘We are delighted to be partnering with Affirm Press again to create this opportunity for emerging writers. We have seen some great work developed as a result of this program, and look forward to seeing what 2021 will bring.’

Applications for the award close on 15 September 2021. The residency week will be held from Monday 28 March to Monday 4 April 2022, and the award includes full board and accommodation, including a private room and writing studio for each writer.

Continuing Varuna’s initiative to make the award more accessible to low-income writers, application fee assistance and a travel bursary will be available for entrants with healthcare cards.

To find out more details about the award and how to apply, visit the Varuna website.