Find out what we got up to at the very first Picador Open Day and start reading John Forde's Settlement, winner of the inaugural Picador Bursary.

Picador held its inaugural Open Day on Friday 17th June, inviting students from Birkbeck, University of London’s MA Creative Writing to a programme of events at the Pan Macmillan offices in Kings Cross.

Over sixty students were in attendance, with around fifty submitting samples of their work for consideration by the Picador team and feedback from industry experts.

The day included a panel with staff from every department describing the chain of activities from acquisition to publication; author Jessie Burton and literary agent Juliet Mushens in conversation with Burton’s editor Francesca Main about The Miniaturist’s journey from first draft to bestseller lists; and a live feedback session, in which Birkbeck students’ opening pages were drawn at random, read aloud, and constructively critiqued by three Picador editors and literary agent Jo Unwin.

Picador Editorial Director, Francesca Main said:

‘At Picador we’re committed to discovering new voices and seeking out the best new talent to enrich our community of authors. Publishing can seem like a closed world from the outside, so I’m delighted we were able to open our doors to the Birkbeck MA students and give them a chance to meet people in the industry, ask questions, and explore behind the scenes. We were enormously impressed by the range and quality of the submissions we received for the Picador Bursary and thrilled to select John Forde as our winner.’

At 8pm, pizza was delivered to the offices and Picador publisher Paul Baggaley announced the inaugural Picador Bursary – an award for the most promising piece of writing submitted. 

The winning author was John Forde for the opening of his novel Settlement, which is set in late-1990s New Zealand and tells the story of the shifting intimacies and rivalries of three gay friends and the frustrations of trying to make it big in a small town.  John Forde was awarded £250, mentoring from the Picador team, and a selection of Picador books.

John Forde said:

‘I'm thrilled and honoured to be the inaugural recipient of the Picador Bursary. I've been working on Settlement on and off for three years. Like most first-time novelists, I write into a void, hoping that when I emerge with a completed manuscript, someone other than my mother will want to read it. The Picador Bursary is a welcome pat on the back for making it this far, and gives me a glimmer of self-confidence that my work might find a home one day. I'm very grateful to the Picador editorial team for their feedback and encouragement.’

>>>Read John Forde's winning entry


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