Bog People Competition

Hollie Starling and Chatto & Windus are launching a competition for unpublished working-class writers to have their fiction featured in a folk horror anthology.

Bog People: A Working-Class Anthology of Folk Horror will be published in autumn 2025 by Chatto. The book is the vision of Hollie Starling, author of The Bleeding Tree who runs @FolkHorrorMagpie online, and who will edit and introduce the anthology as well as writing one of the stories. Eight spaces will be taken up by established working-class authors.

It’s important the publication reflects folk horror’s messages of community and protest, so one slot is open for an unpublished writer from a working-class background. They will be paid the same fee as all the other writers.

Folk horror is many things. It’s protest. Vengeful spirits. It’s a bit of Wicker Man, Midsommar or Jerusalem but it’s also the Peasant’s Revolt and maybe the 2011 London Riots. It’s Robin Hood, it’s the Lord of Misrule. With Bog People we assert a reclamation of this status as one deserving of reification. In its pages we’ll recognise the countless dead unnamed by the chroniclers of history. Stories of reaping and sowing, stories as sharp as a guillotine blade, stories that stand for all time.

Applicants must submit:

  • an outline of their folk horror story (up to 600 words)
  • an opening paragraph (up to 300 words)
  • a sample of their fiction writing of any genre (up to 6000 words)
  • a short bio of the writer (up to 200 words)
  • please format a Word document including these three sections in plain, serif font, 1.5 spacing, black type on white background, with no pictures. Do not send separate documents or pdfs.

Three shortlisted authors will then be asked to submit the full short story (5000-7000 words).

All applicants must identify as working class or from a working-class background. They must not have had their fiction or non-fiction published as a book, but this does not exclude those who have had work published in magazines or websites. The story must adhere to the tropes of folk horror, though we welcome experimentation and fresh takes on the genre.

First entries deadline: 16 June, 2024
Shortlist chosen: 15 July, 2024
Final deadline: 4 August, 2024
Winner announced: 12 August, 2024


Hollie Starling (she/her) is a writer and folklorist from the North East of England and author of The Bleeding Tree: A Pathway Through Grief Guided by Forests, Folk Tales and the Ritual Year. She runs the page Folk Horror Magpie (@folkhorrormagpie) on social media.

Rose Tomaszewska (she/her) is Editorial Director at Chatto & Windus, an imprint of Vintage at Penguin Random House, publishing fiction and non-fiction, and teaches Creative Writing at Faber Academy and Arvon.

Asia Choudhry (she/her) is an assistant at Chatto & Windus and co-chair of ColourFull, the network for employees of colour at Penguin Random House.

Folk Horror

We see folk horror as a sensibility rather than a genre, and its rules are pliable. That said, settings are very often isolated and insular, there is often pressure exerted by some form of ancient darkness that is linked to landscape, and shared reality may exist alongside an alternative one of myth and folklore. While the rural – and environmentalism – usually predominates, folk memory exists wherever people do, and so we feel that an urban setting is not at odds with the interests of folk horror. It is very much not Christian, and the ‘old ways’, pagan ritual, and occultism may be found simmering beneath the surface. The horror element can be unsettling and uncanny; the assault can be psychological or even spiritual, rather than the bodily or gratuitous (though this may feature). Supernatural elements are often present but are not required; the antagonist very often resides within the rigidity of superstition or the madness of the crowd. Folk horror frequently offers incidental beauty. It is enraptured by nature. Most of all it is concerned with a fear of outsiders and a clash of cultures.