Highgate publisher launches Queer writing competition in tribute to her trans daughter

Sarah and Kate Beal who run Muswell Press. It is launching a competition

Sarah and Kate Beal who run Muswell Press. It is launching a competition to find writing that celebrates Queer lives and loves in tribute to Sarah's trans daughter Lucy Reynolds - Credit: Archant

Lucy-Jack Reynolds, who died aged 20 in March, would be “proud and thrilled” at Muswell Press’ writing competition and anthology Queer Life, Queer Love says mum Sarah

Sarah Beal with her trans daughter Lucy-Jack Reynolds.

Sarah Beal with her trans daughter Lucy Reynolds. Muswell Press launched an appeal to find new Queer writing in tribute to Lucy's life - Credit: Archant

Highgate publisher Sarah Beal is launching a new writing competition in tribute to her trans daughter who died in March.

Sarah and sister Kate run the “proudly independent” Muswell Press, which is seeking 25 poems, flash fiction and short stories for their anthology Queer Life, Queer Love as a timely celebration of “writing from the margins brought centre stage”.

Launched to coincide with Transgender Day of Remembrance, it is dedicated to the memory of Lucy-Jack Reynolds, who died in Hampstead aged just 20.

Beal is still coming to terms with the loss of the former UCS pupil, who was a talented musician, advocate of LGBTQI rights and “proud gamer”.

Lucy-Jack aged 15 meeting The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after winning a BAFTA Young Game Designer award. Picture: Alan...

Lucy-Jack aged 15 meeting The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after winning a BAFTA Young Game Designer award. Picture: Alan Richardson - Credit: Alan Richardson Pix-AR.co.uk

After winning a Bafta aged 15 for designing a computer game, she was studying computer science at Bath University.

“She had huge potential and was loved by friends and family, it is very sad that she is no longer with us,” said Beal.

Most Read

“She was super bright, funny and very smart. She had been playing gigs in Bristol and Bath and had people interested in doing one of her songs on TV. At UCS she did drama and was one of those probably annoying kids who is pretty good at most things. But being super smart and sensitive she didn’t always find life easy.”

Beal, a former Marketing manager at Faber and Bloomsbury, says Lucy-Jack would be “proud and happy” to encourage new LGBTQI writing.

“Jack became trans 18 months ago and while other people’s reactions could be quite tricky, she was happily trans, one day looking like your average grungy gamer and the next so beautiful. She was enjoying playing with her identity and was a great support to anyone who wasn’t straight and heterosexual. Friends and fellow students have sent notes saying how much she helped them.”

The project has been a positive step after a traumatic time.

“Initially your brain goes to mush, you can’t focus - but after it being awful we are beginning to see the wood for the trees and it’s good to get on with something. We thought what a nice thing to dedicate the book to her and throw it open to absolutely everybody. We are hoping for global reach. We want to encourage people to use their creativity and not be fearful. The publishing world seems a bit of a dinosaur from the outside but we are not here to censor. We are open to an array of work and want to choose the best writing and give voice to brilliant new writers.”

Queer Life Queer Love chimes with Muswell Press starting an LGBTQI list two years ago.

“There was a gap in the market and not enough gay writing and we always thought it would be nice to attract new writers by doing an anthology,” says Beal.

With Sarah based in Highgate and Kate in Crouch End the pair have more than 50 years in publishing between them and are growing the four-year-old business with Queer Life Queer Love one of 15 titles out next year.

It will be judged and edited by Sarah and Kate alongside Matthew Bates, who has previously judged the Costa and curated WH Smiths’ list celebrating the 50th anniversary of decriminalization of homosexuality, and Golnoosh Nour, author and presenter of Queer Lit.

Beal adds: “Lucy-Jack would be thrilled about the book, it’s not always easy but I’ve kept a photograph in front of me of Jack with a cocktail glass in hand and it cheers me up no end. It’s great to have this judging team, doing it for her.”

Queer Life Queer Love is published in November 2021. Entry is open now without restriction and closes on January 31, 2021. The selection will be announced in March 2021, marking the first anniversary of Lucy’s death.

Email entries to team@muswell-press.co.uk