A little while ago, I was asked to judge a short story competition at my old school. The girls who submitted stories were aged between 12 and 18, and I lowered my expectations accordingly. When I was sixteen, my prose was purple, my syntax tortured and my themes ranged from bleak to super-bleak. So imagine my surprise when I read a series of crisply written, confident short stories from these young women, on the theme of "A Waving Hand" (Junior competition) and "Some Time After" (Senior competition). Some were witty, some were playful, some were very serious. Many had a wonderful sense of place, others had neat turns of phrase. All were surprising - both in the quality and clarity of the prose and the choice of subject matter. It's clear that my old school has produced some writers of the future, and I'm delighted to share their work here.

Laura Palmer, Trade Fiction Director

A Waving Hand - Olivia Stakem

A Waving Hand - Georgina Anastassopoulos Tubby

A Waving Hand - Hannah Mason

Some Time After - June Eric-Udorie

Some Time After - Victoria Falck

Some Time After - Ella Monck