M.R. Carey

M.R. Carey has been making up stories for most of his life. His novel, The Girl With All The Gifts, has sold over a million copies and has become a major motion picture, based on his own BAFTA Award nominated screenplay. Under the name Mike Carey he has written for both DC and Marvel, including critically acclaimed runs on Lucifer, Hellblazer and X-Men. His creator-owned books regularly appear in the New York Times bestseller list. He also has several previous novels including the Felix Castor series (written as Mike Carey), two radio plays and a number of TV and movie screenplays to his credit. He can be found on twitter under @michaelcarey191

Mahvesh Murad

Mahvesh Murad is an editor & voice artist from Karachi, Pakistan who currently lives in Kuala Lumpur. She is the editor for the Apex Book of World SF (vol 4), & co-editor of the World Fantasy Award nominated short story collections The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories, & The Outcast Hours. She writes about books regularly for Pakistan’s leading English newspaper Dawn, & Tor.com.  @mahveshm

Daphne Lao Tonge

Daphne is the founder and owner of Illumicrate, the UK’s first YA and crossover book subscription box since 2015, and a wonderful community of avid book lovers. She’s also Marketing Director for inclusive children’s publisher Knights Of and an event chair. Previously, she was an award-winning book blogger from 2011-2018 and a judge for the YA Book Prize and The Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME award. She lives in London, but is a Chinese-Filipino born and raised in Manila. She can usually be found fangirling over first editions & fictional princes, and recommending books on social media at: @daphlt.

Clare Rees

Clare is last year’s Golden Tentacle winner for her book, Jelly. She liked the look of so many of the books on last year’s Kitchies shortlist that she read a number of them during lockdown- and loved being transported to exciting worlds and situations during this very strange year. Clare is judging 2020’s competition because what  better way to spend this winter than reading another glorious set of books?

Before writing Jelly, Clare spent most of her career teaching (including two years in Ethiopia) and during this time wrote teaching resources and books for several different educational publishers. She has written education articles and blogs for The Guardian, The Independent, TES and The iPaper.

Her next novel is also speculative fiction.

Twitter: @ClareRees3

Kaiya Shang

Kaiya Shang is an editor and writer. She is French-Chinese but was born and lives in London. She loves literary writing, especially books about cults, Curtis Sittenfeld and Asian-American literature. Her favourite place in the world is LA. She has an eclectic array of other interests, including fashion, martial arts, dance, drawing and playing the guitar. Her not-so-guilty pleasure is ’90s SF and space operas. Kaiya usually wears heavy black eyeliner to hide dark shadows from staying up all night writing. She is currently working on a memoir and a novel. She is a cat person. Instagram: @kaiya__s


Emily McGovern

Emily McGovern was born in the UK but grew up in Brussels. After graduating with a First Class degree in Russian Studies from University College of London, she now works full time as a cartoonist and is the creator of the hugely popular webcomic series My Life as a Background Slytherin.  In 2016, her short story Bloodlust & Bonnets was shortlisted for the Jonathan Cape Graphic Short Story Prize, and was later adapted into a full length graphic novel of the same name, published by Simon and Schuster in 2019.  Bloodlust & Bonnets has most recently been shortlisted for the 2020 Comedy Women in Print Award.

James Spackman

James’ book career started glamorously, in the postroom of Bloomsbury Publishing, then developed via sales and marketing roles there, at John Murray and at Hodder. He was MD of Watkins (then part of Osprey Group) before setting up on his own.

He now commissions books about cycling for Profile Books under the imprint Pursuit. In 2018 he set up The bks Agency with two ex Hodder colleagues. He coaches publishers and agents in presentation skills and copy creation as The Book Pitch Doctor and he is also founder of The Spare Room Project (sponsored by Penguin Random House) which finds free accommodation for interns in London.

Clare Richardson

Clare is a superhero’s sidekick and can often be found scouring the more villainous streets of London. Never speak to her at a party as she’ll launch into an exposition of her super-secret, super-hero identity – The Interminable Bore. When lycra-ed up she can wreak havoc on world-kind with her special dictionary powers. Just one banal or inconsequential fact uttered from her lips and see how her foes are felled.

In real life Clare is a business director at an advertising agency and has spent the last fifteen years focusing on Government behaviour change campaigns. Her Burmese cooking is not quite as good as her Burmese mother’s but as it’s her mum who is often judging, objectivity feels a little awry. Clare listens to a lot of Dolly Parton.

Fleur Clarke

Fleur Clarke is Head of Brand Marketing at HarperFiction. She has created campaigns for some of the world’s most legendary storytellers, including George R.R. Martin, J.R.R. Tolkien and Stephen King, as well as rising stars such as Becky Chambers, Pierce Brown and Jasper Fforde.


The 2019 judges included Claire North, Kirsty Logan, Tasha Suri, Michaela (Boo) Grey and Alasdair Stuart (Red and Gold Tentacles); Kim Curran, James Spackman, Kaiya Shang and Sharan Matharu (Inky Tentacle).

The 2018 judges included Adam Roberts, Daniel Carpenter, Lucy Smee, Matt Webb and Sharan Dhaliwal (Red and Golden Tentacles); Dapo Adeola, Lily Ash-Sakula and Maeve Rutten (Inky Tentacle).

The 2017 judges included Leila Abu el Hawa, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Joshua Idehen, Ewa Scibor-Rilka and Alasdair Stuart (Red and Golden Tentacles); Dapo Adeola, Sharan Dhaliwal, Jet Purdie and Stuart Taylor (Inky Tentacle).

There was no award in 2016 as the Kitschies and their tentacles took the year off.

The 2015 judges included Sarah Lotz, James Smythe, Nikesh Shukla, Nazia Khatun, and Glen Mehn (Red and Golden Tentacles); Sarah McIntyre, Regan Warner, Lauren O’Farrell, and Dapo Adeola (Inky Tentacle), and James Wallis, Em Short, and Rebecca Levene (Invisible Tentacle)

The 2014 judges included Adam Roberts, Cat Webb, Kim Curran, and Frances Hardinge (Red and Golden Tentacles); Ed Warren, Dapo Adeola, Jim Kay, and Siân Prime (Inky Tentacle); and Laura Grace, James Wallis, Philo van Kemenade, and Clare Reddington (Invisible Tentacle)

The 2013 judges included Nick Harkaway, Annabel Wright, Anab Jain, Cat Webb and Will Hill (Red and Golden Tentacles) and Hazel Thompson, Emma Vieceli, Craig Kennedy and Sarah Anne Langton (Inky Tentacle).

The 2012 judges included Patrick Ness, Rebecca Levene and Jared Shurin (Red and Golden Tentacles) and Lauren O’Farrell, Gary Northfield and Ed Warren (Inky Tentacle).

The 2011 judges included Lauren Beukes, Rebecca Levene, Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin (Red and Golden Tentacles) and Catherine Hemelryk, Craig Kennedy, Darren Banks and Hayley Campbell (Inky Tentacle).