Lucy Kissick’s debut novel Plutoshine has won the inaugural Writers & Artists Working-Class Writers’ Prize.

We launched the prize in March calling for writers who consider themselves to be from a working class background and without current publishing contract or agent.

Kissick, who was selected from more than 200 entries, will receive editorial feedback on their writing from author Natasha Carthew as well as a complimentary place at one of W&A’s How To Get Published events held at Bloomsbury Publishing.

Since being shortlisted for the prize, Kissick has signed as a client with literary agent Julie Crisp of Julie Crisp Literary Agency.

Kissick said: “Receiving this Prize means so many things to me. The pride I now feel for my work means I can hold myself taller – call myself a writer and feel like one. Moreover it means my writing is no longer just a pastime: last week I signed with a literary agent, Julie Crisp,  and now I could be one step closer to my dearest hope of becoming a published author. I’m so grateful to Writers & Artists and Natasha Carthew for organising and judging the Working-Class Writers’ Prize. Sitting down to write requires time and headspace — it requires the sacrifice of more reliable sources of income — and for those of slim financial means this is an all-too discouraging risk. Holding a competition to recognise writers from this oft-overlooked demographic is one of many ways we can work to create equality of opportunity for UK writers.”

Plutoshine follows the tale of Nou, a young girl mute from trauma, who finds alien life on her home world of Pluto. When terraformers arrive to build the planet’s sun, Nou finds the courage to share her discovery and  rediscover her voice.

Author and judge Carthew said: “Plutoshine draws you into the story with precise tension from the start. The planet as seen through Nou’s eyes and her understanding of Pluto and the planets around them is brilliantly executed. I love the balance between the old villager’s stories of earth and what the youngest have been told and Nou’s determination to find life beyond what she knows sets the story up perfectly. Although the story is set on Pluto, the writing and descriptions make you feel like you’ve been here before. That’s testament to the clarity of the writing.”

Clare Povey, Editorial and communities Manager at W&A, added: “Plutoshine is a deserving winner of our inaugural prize. I was struck by its uniqueness; it’s a story that only Lucy could tell. This prize was created to bring brilliant, original writing to the surface and I’m so pleased at the response we’ve had. We received over 200 entries which is a testament to the importance of such a prize. I believe that Lucy has an exciting writing future ahead of her as bright as a Plutonian sun!”

Born and raised in Southport, Kissick is currently a PhD student in Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford, where she researches the chemistry of ancient Martian lakes and how they once interacted with the planet’s atmosphere.