Kill Your Darlings is delighted to announce Hayley Scrivenor (NSW) as the winner of the 2020 KYD Unpublished Manuscript Award.

Scrivenor’s manuscript, The Push Back, is a novel set in a small country town and narrates the unfolding disaster the murder of a twelve-year-old girl inflicts on the community. Read an extract here.

Hayley Scrivenor receives $4000 in prize money, donated by Kill Your Darlings. In September 2020, Scrivenor, along with the three other shortlisted writers for the award, had a week-long intensive online editorial residency with Varuna, supported by the Copyright Agency.

On winning the prize, Scrivenor says:

‘Zadie Smith once wrote, “It’s such a confidence trick, writing a novel. The main person you have to trick into confidence is yourself. This is hard to do alone.” Being shortlisted for the prize gave me the confidence to tackle things I’d been afraid to, and I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity to go deeper into a work I’d been chipping away at for years.

‘Of course, winning the prize buys me time to write, and just the knowledge that the judges saw something in my work will keep me going for a long, long time. The editorial report from Rebecca Starford, in addition to the online residency, were invaluable to the development of my manuscript. It’s such a unique prize in that respect. Since working on the manuscript for resubmission, I’ve secured as an agent Grace Heifetz at Left Bank Literary, and I know I couldn’t have done that without the editorial guidance I received.’

KYD’s Rebecca Starford, 2019 KYD Unpublished Manuscript Award winner Sam van Zweden, and Picador publisher Mathilda Imlah judged this year’s award.

‘Amidst a strong shortlist, Hayley Scrivenor’s novel of a missing child and the old wounds reopened by her absence was really a standout,’ says Imlah. ‘Told from the perspective of the policewoman in charge of her case, her mother, and her two best friends, Scrivenor’s clever structure ratchets up suspense over the course of a few very long days in the lives of a family and a community.’

‘Hayley Scrivenor in The Push Back deftly navigates a looping and repeating timeline, as the story of the disappearance of a child is told from multiple points of view, each narrator revealing unique information in their telling,’ says van Zweden. ‘This snappy crime novel investigates the tension of small-town dynamics and the immense impact of the loss of a community member in that setting. I gobbled this manuscript in only a few sittings, and was genuinely surprised by its twists and turns.’

Congratulations again to all of this year’s shortlist and longlist, and thanks again to everyone who entered!