Harvill Secker and Bloody Scotland have joined forces to launch a competition to find a debut crime writer from a BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethnic) background. The prize will be judged by award-winning Harvill Secker author and Bloody Scotland committee member Abir Mukherjee; creator of the bestselling Shetland and Vera series, Ann Cleeves; journalist and co-founder of BAME in Publishing, Sarah Shaffi; and Harvill Secker Editorial Director Jade Chandler.
Abir Mukherjee, an accountant-turned winner of Harvill Secker’s previous crime writing competition, is the author of an award-winning, critically-acclaimed series of historical crime novels set in 1920s Calcutta. Abir’s debut, A Rising Man, won the CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger 2017 and was picked as one of Waterstones best books of 2017.
Anne Cleeves, the Sunday Times bestselling author of 32 novels in 32 years and 2017’s recipient of the CWA Diamond Dagger, is a passionate supporter of new writers, especially within the crime writing community. Shaffi, a freelance journalist and editor-at-large at Little Tiger Group, writes for Stylist online, is books editor at Phoenix and co-hosts the pop culture podcast Eat, Read, Stream, Repeat.
Entrants to the competition will be asked to submit the first 5,000 words of their crime novel, along with a full plot outline. Entries will open on the 9th of July 2018 and will run until the 9th of September 2018, with the winner announced in November 2018.
The winner will have their book published, under the Harvill Secker imprint, in a publishing deal with an advance of £5,000. The winner will also receive perks alongside their publishing contract, including a panel appearance at the Bloody Scotland festival in 2019 (this year’s dates are 21st-23rd September) and a series of three one-to-one mentoring sessions with Abir Mukherjee. The Arvon Foundation – now in their 50th year – also joins the competition as a sponsor and is offering the winner the chance to attend any one of their creative writing courses or writing retreats in 2019, with all expenses paid.
Jade Chandler said: ‘While the crime writing community is diverse in many ways, it lacks authors from BAME backgrounds. With crime fiction’s increasing popularity, it seems more important than ever that its creators should be more representative of those who may enjoy reading within the genre. We want to do something pro-active to address this and I am delighted that we’re teaming up with Abir Mukherjee and such brilliant sponsors and judges to do so. I can’t wait to find an exciting new writer to publish on the Harvill Secker crime list.’
Abir Mukherjee said: ‘I’m excited to be part of this new initiative being launched by Harvill Secker and Bloody Scotland. At this time of great change, it’s more important than ever that the experiences and viewpoints of writers from across the spectrum of our society are published. Different viewpoints mean different stories, which in turn lead to a wider, richer literary atmosphere, hopefully reaching out to communities who feel marginalised or who have traditionally lacked a voice.’
Bloody Scotland’s Bob McDevitt said: ‘Bloody Scotland is 100% behind this important new prize and it fits in perfectly with the work we have been doing recently with the British Council to bring crime writers from India to Scotland. We think that breaking down barriers in terms of access to authors from different cultural and social backgrounds will only improve the richness of the crime writing genre.’