Following The Big Issue’s own search for Britain’s next great crime writer, the #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize also aims to uncover new voices. It will be open to all unpublished authors from the UK and Ireland, between the ages of 16 and 30.
Stormzy said that his own experience inspired him to support young writers.
“I know too many talented writers that don’t always have an outlet or a means to get their work seen and hopefully #Merky Books can now be a reference point for them to say, ‘I can be an author’, and for that to be a realistic and achievable goal,” he added. “Reading and writing as a kid was integral to where I am today and I from the bottom of my heart cannot wait to hear your stories and get them out into the big wide world.”
Winners of the prize will receive a publishing contract from Stormzy’s #Merky Books and representation with The Good Literary Agency.
Writing hopefuls have until April 12 to enter the competition. The shortlist will be announced on May 2 and the winner will be announced on June 6. All shortlisted writers will be invited to a free workshop hosted by Penguin, where they will get editorial feedback and information on how to get published and make their voices heard.
The winner of the #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize will be selected by a panel of judges, including Stormzy; celebrated writer Yrsa Daley-Ward; award-winning poet Kayo Chingonyi; writer and agent Nikesh Shukla; and Susan Sandon, Managing Director at Penguin Random House UK.
Stormzy launched #Merky Books – a part of Penguin Random House UK – in 2018, as a home for a new generation of writers. He curates the imprint and they publish two to three new works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry a year.
Earlier this year, Stormzy was named one of The Big Issue’s Top 100 Changemakers in recognition of his scholarship for black students to attend Cambridge University.