Chicken House has extended the deadline for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition from 1st February to 14th May 2021, in light of the UK national lockdown.

Chicken House Publisher Barry Cunningham says, ‘When we first planned this year’s competition, we’d hoped for a 2021 which felt a little more normal. But the extraordinary times we’re living in continue – presenting extraordinary challenges to writers everywhere. We recognise our potential entrants are juggling varying but ever-changing landscapes of work, childcare, health and mental wellbeing. As such, we’ve decided to extend the deadline by several months in the hope of offering fresh motivation to new writers the world over – and allow as many as possible a chance to submit.’

The Times/Chicken House Competition is open now and will close on 14th May 2021. As well as the top prize of a publishing contract with Chicken House with an advance of £10,000 – picked by a panel of expert judges from across the industry – a second prize, sponsored by the IET, has been introduced for 2021.

The IET 150 Prize, introduced to celebrate the IET’s 150th anniversary and offering a £10,000 publishing contract, will be awarded to a manuscript which broadly explores or celebrates STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). The prize will have a separate judging panel, including Chicken House’s Barry Cunningham, the IET’s President, Professor Danielle George MBE, and a star author, to be announced. IET President, Professor Danielle George MBE, said: ‘The IET 150 Award celebrates the endless possibilities Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths present. Coupled with the creative minds of some of the very best undiscovered writing talent in the UK, I think we are going to have some exceptional stories that push the boundaries of innovation and adventure.’

Last year’s Overall Winner was Varsha Shah with her novel Adjay and the Mumbai Rail Times. The winner of the Chairman’s Choice Award (replaced with the IET 150 Award for 2021), chosen by Chicken House Publisher Barry Cunningham, was awarded to Fran Hart and her novel The Other Ones. Chicken House plans to publish both novels in 2022.

The competition is now open and the judges are looking for original ideas, a fresh voice, a diverse range of entries and stories that children will love. Entrants must have written a completed full-length novel suitable for children/young adults aged somewhere between seven and 18 years with a suggested length of between 30,000-80,000 words. Entry costs £18 and is open to writers from all over the world, as long as they write in English, are unagented and have not had a children’s book published before. For more details on the competition and instructions on how to enter, please visit the Chicken House website.