Judging and the Panel

Before the shortlist of books reaches our expert judging panel, they are carefully assessed by a panel of librarians and library staff. Working to strict guidelines of what constitutes an adventure story, the panel discuss which of the novels entered should be put forward for the longlist and then shortlist.

Once a novel reaches the shortlist, copies are distributed to our judges. Each year, we invite professionals from the literary and adventure worlds to join us. Find out more about our brilliant line-up of judges below. 

Matt Barr

Matt Barr is a writer, journalist, author, editor, podcaster, publisher, broadcaster, and business owner. He has been working in action sports media and communications since the mid-1990s - work he has always used work as an excuse to seek out the next adventure, whether that’s swimming from Alcatraz, snowboarding in Iran, or surfing in the Arctic Circle. 

In 2005, he co-founded All Conditions Media, which today runs advertising and marketing campaigns for brands in the outdoor, action sports and adventure travel industries, such as adidas, Arc’teryx, Brompton, Danner, Db, Finisterre, Gore-Tex, H&M and Yeti.

In 2017, he set up the Looking Sideways Action Sports podcast. Over 250 episodes later, it is one of the most respected and popular action sports podcasts in the world, loved by hundreds of thousands of loyal listeners around the world. 

Matt still works as a journalist, publisher and editor. He contributes to Wired, The Snowboard Journal, Pleasure, Huck, Metro, the Telegraph and Sidetracked; he is a columnist for Whitelines; and in 2022 he published the first Looking Sideways book. He’s currently working on a multi-part podcast documentary series about Patagonia’s influential 2022 decision to ‘make Earth their only shareholder’, which is due for release in summer 2024. 

You can follow Matt on Substack at lookingsideways.substack.com or on Instagram @WeLookSideways.

Lee Craigie

Lee Craigie is a former professional mountain bike racer and director of The Adventure Syndicate. She was the Active Nation Commissioner for Scotland and is a fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, winner of the Excellence in Outdoor Culture Award and a member of Braemar Mountain Rescue team. Trained as an outdoor instructor and Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist, Craigie founded Cycletherapy in 2009 to deliver cycle training to marginalised young people in the Scottish Highlands and now uses her work with The Adventure Syndicate to inspire more women and girls to be adventurous in wild places. 

In her latest book Other Ways to Win, Lee draws on her racing and adventuring experience to reflect on what winning and success actually mean and considers how to live a healthier, happier, more sustainable existence. 

You can follow Lee on Twitter @leecraigie_/@adventuresynd and Instagram @leecraigie_/@adventuresynd.

Dr Alasdair Harris

Alasdair is a marine conservationist working at the interface of ocean protection and social justice. He has spent more than two decades working with communities to rebuild fisheries across the tropics, and his organisation Blue Ventures develops locally led approaches to marine conservation that benefit people and nature. Blue Ventures’ approach is helping many hundreds of thousands of people address overfishing and safeguard ocean life in fifteen countries across southeast Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.

Alasdair is a National Geographic Explorer, and a TED and Ashoka fellow. He holds a PhD in marine ecology and an honorary doctorate of science from the University of Edinburgh. 

Sarah Outen

Sarah Outen spent almost five years rowing, kayaking and cycling around the world, most of it solo. She now works as a therapist alongside her four donkeys.

Books have always been an essential part of Sarah's heart when wandering, so she is delighted to be a judge. 

Emma Styles

Emma Styles writes contemporary Australian noir about young women taking on the patriarchy. She grew up on Whadjuk Noongar country in Perth, Western Australia and now lives in London where she was born. Emma has an MA in crime fiction from the University of East Anglia. No Country for Girls is her debut novel; it won the Little, Brown UEA Crime Fiction Award 2020 and Emma was selected to be part of Val McDermid’s prestigious New Blood debut panel at 2022’s Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

Emma loves a road trip and once sat out a cyclone on the north-west coast of WA in a LandCruiser Troop Carrier. She spent her teens and twenties learning to ski, snowboard, ride horses and motorcycles, and fly small aeroplanes. Emma is currently working on her second standalone thriller.