Monday, November 2, 2009

So you want to be a crime writer? Debut Dagger open for entries!

A fortnight after all the excitement of the CWA Dagger announcements at the 2009 Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards (which were also televised on ITV3 last week), where William Brodrick's A WHISPERED NAME won the CWA Gold Dagger, John Hart's THE LAST CHILD won the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Best Thriller, and Harlan Coben won the inaugural Bestseller Dagger - amongst many other prestigious awards given on the evening - the time is already upon us to start looking ahead to the 2010 Daggers.

Sarah Forster of the New Zealand Book Council has kindly forwarded on to me the information about the 2010 CWA Debut Dagger competition, to share with any and all who are interested in crime and mystery fiction.

Entries for the 2010 Debut Dagger will be accepted by the CWA between 31 October 2009 and 6 February 2010. So if you're a budding writer who hasn't yet published a full-length novel, you have basically three months to throw your hat in the ring.

The CWA Debut Dagger Award was established in 1998 and is open to all writers who have not had a novel published commercially. Since its inception, 18 winners and short-listed authors have obtained publishing contracts on the strength of their entries. Several have gone on to much continued success, including winning other major awards.

As noted on the CWA website, inaugural winner Joolz Denby was short-listed in 2005 for the Orange Prize for Fiction, 2001 winner Ed Wright was awarded the 2005 Shamus award for best P.I. novel by the Private Eye Writers of America, and Allan Guthrie won the 2007 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year for Two Way Split, developed from his entry shortlisted in 2001.

Barbara Cleverly, shortlisted in 1999, won the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger award in 2004. Louise Penny, highly commended by the judges of the 2004 Debut Dagger, was awarded the 2006 New Blood Dagger. And 2007 winner Alan Bradley has just seen Orion publish THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE, the first in a three-book deal.

In 2009, first prize was £500 plus two free tickets to the prestigious CWA Dagger Awards and night’s stay for two in a top London hotel. All shortlisted entrants receive a generous selection of crime novels and professional assessments of their entries, and will also be invited to the Dagger Awards.

The 2009 winner was Canadian Catherine O'Keefe (the award was made in July, one of the earlier Daggers to be announced) for the start and synopsis of her unpublished novel THE PATHOLOGIST. The judges described it as "an uncomfortable, sophisticated, read that also manages to be suspenseful."

Nessa Malkin blames her pathologist for everything bad that ever happened to her, including the fact that she murdered him. You can read the prologue and opening chapter of Catherine's winning entry HERE.

In terms of comparing entry into the CWA Debut Dagger vs taking your chances in the slush piles of literary agents and publishers, 2007 short-listee and now published author Dorothy McIntosh has previously recounted the following story about fellow entrant and now Anthony and Agatha Award-winning published author Lousie Penny.

"Louise’s first manuscript endured many rejections before she entered the Debut Dagger competition. Her entry achieved achieved the ‘highly commended’ category and, as a direct result, she found an agent. Today, Louise is a much loved and widely read author who has won many awards for her work. Her latest novel A BRUTAL TELLING just debuted on the New York Times best seller list."

So come on all you budding mystery writers - get to work on your opening chapter(s) (up to 3,000wds) and synopsis, and give the 2010 CWA Debut Dagger a whirl... and maybe it'll be your name we're using as an example of great success in a few years time...

The competition is open to internationals, as well as UK residents. You can find out more on how to enter HERE. There are some FAQs about the competition and award HERE, and there's some helpful information on 'what to write', including tips on the synopsis, HERE.

Has anyone entered this before? Thinking of entering the 2010 competition? What do you think of the CWA Debut Dagger? Have you read any of the previous winners/finalists published work? Thoughts and comments most welcome.

1 comment:

  1. How kind of you to think of me, Craig.

    But all my larger manuscripts (more than 2500 words) are written in Danish which might cause a problem ;D