Female writers figure prominently on the shortlists for the 2007 Costa Book Awards, formerly the Whitbread Prize.
Tremain and Kennedy make up one half of the novel shortlist
All four nominees in the first novel category are female, while Rose Tremain and AL Kennedy go up against two male authors on the best novel shortlist.
Three more women writers are in line for the children's book prize, one of five categories at this year's awards.
The recipients of the individual awards will be announced on 3 January, with an overall winner named on 22 January.
London-based author Stef Penney received the £25,000 Costa book of the year award last February for her debut novel, The Tenderness of Wolves.
Tremain, whose book Music and Silence won the Whitbread novel category in 1999, has been shortlisted this year for The Road Home.
The other hopefuls in that category are AL Kennedy for the novel Day, Rupert Thomson for Death of a Murderer and writer and theatre director Neil Bartlett for Skin Lane.
Theatre director Bartlett and Rupert Thomson make up the other half
Books by immigrant writers are strongly represented in the first novel category.
They are A Golden Age by Bangladeshi-born Tahmima Anam, Gifted by Indian-born Nikita Lalwani, and Mosquito by Roma Tearne, originally from Sri Lanka.
Birmingham-born Catherine O'Flynn completes the shortlist with her novel What Was Lost.
The former postwoman's first novel was turned down 15 times before it secured a publishing deal.
In the biography category, the stories of Josef Stalin and dancer Rudolf Nureyev go head to head in their category with Fatty Batter, actor Michael Simkins' memoir about his cricket-loving childhood.
Agent Zigzag, which tells the life story of World War II double agent Eddie Chapman, is the fourth nominee.
Ann Kelley's The Bower Bird, Elizabeth Laird's Crusade and Meg Rosoff's What I Was are up for the children's book award, alongside Marcus Sedgwick's Blood Red Snow White.
A further four writers - Ian Duhig, John Fuller, Daljit Nagra and Jean Sprackland - compete for the poetry prize.
Judges on this year's panels included actress Helen Lederer, columnist Danny Danziger and broadcaster Julia Somerville.
To be eligible for the 2007 Costa Book Awards, books had to have been first published in the UK or Ireland between 1 November 2006 and 31 October 2007.
Authors must have been resident in the UK for at least six months in each of the last three years.