Harvill Secker and Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival are back in 2021, collaborating to host an award that will seek the most exciting new crime fiction by writers of colour. The prize will be judged by winner of the inaugural competition and author of debut novel The Waiter, Ajay Chowdhury, journalist and public speaker Paula Akpan, Creative Producer at Words of Colour, Heather Marks and Harvill Secker Editorial Director Jade Chandler.
Ajay Chowdhury is the winner of the inaugural Harvill Secker and Bloody Scotland Crime Writing competition. He is a tech entrepreneur and theatre director who lived the first third of his life in India and then moved to London. The Waiter is his debut crime thriller.
Paula Akpan is a journalist, historian and public speaker. A sociology graduate from the University of Nottingham, her work mainly focuses on blackness, queerness, and social politics and she regularly writes for a variety of publications including Vogue, Teen Vogue, The Independent, Stylist, VICE, i-D, Bustle, Time Out London and more. She’s also contributed essays to collections including Slay In Your Lane’s anthology Loud Black Girls (4th Estate Books) and the UK Black Women’s movement for the forthcoming Queer Bible Anthology (HQ). Paula is currently studying Black British History as a fully-funded Masters student at Goldsmiths and is the director of charitable incorporated company The Black Queer Travel Guide.
Heather Marks is Creative Producer at Words of Colour - a creative development agency for writers, creatives, and entrepreneurs of colour, that collaborates with organisations and institutions on systemic transformation programmes that facilitate inclusion and action. She's also part of the small but mighty No Bindings - an independent press and publishing innovation studio that designs and delivers hybrid print-audio productions and workshops, with a view to democratizing the story industry. Heather is also a freelance editor and journalist who has been featured in The Stage, The Bookseller, and Bristol 24/7. She writes historical fiction for young adults and has a first-look deal with Chicken House.
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 2 June 2021 and will run until the 4 August 2021, with the winner announced in September 2021.
The winner of the Harvill Secker-Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Award will have their book published, under the Harvill Secker imprint, in a publishing deal with an advance of £5,000. The prize package alongside the winner’s publishing contract will include being programmed for a panel appearance at the Bloody Scotland festival, and a guest pass for the weekend’s events. The Arvon Foundation is also supporting the competition as a sponsor – they are offering the winner the invaluable chance to attend any one of their creative writing courses. The Reading Agency are also working to support the award in 2021 and will be promoting the competition to libraries across the UK.Jade Chandler said: ‘Writers of colour remain underrepresented in crime and thriller writing, so I am proud that we are able to partner with Bloody Scotland once again to run this important writing competition. This genre is varied and offers exciting opportunities for page- turning, creative storytelling; I can’t wait to read this year’s entries. It has been a pleasure to work with Ajay Chowdhury on his debut crime novel, The Waiter, since he won the inaugural prize in 2018, and I’m delighted that he is joining us on the judging panel this time round!’
Bob McDevitt said: ‘Last year's virtual festival allowed us to invite writers of colour from every corner of the globe to create a truly diverse programme. We look forward to continuing that with this initiative helping us to discover home grown writers of colour leading to more diverse festivals overall.’
Ajay Chowdhury said: ‘Having enjoyed the utter thrill of my book, The Waiter, winning in 2018, and getting published, I’m so very happy to be part of the process of making this happen for someone else. Diverse voices make crime fiction richer and I’m excited about helping another writer share their unique viewpoint.’
Paula Akpan said: ‘I'm so excited to be joining the panel as a judge, especially as this genre is both one of my favourites to read but also a hard one to get right. Can't wait to get stuck in and see what all these budding writers and authors have whipped up!’
Heather Marks said: ‘I am so pleased to be joining the judging panel for the Harvill Secker- Bloody Scotland crime writing prize. Given the recommendations of last year's Rethinking Diversity in Publishing report, this is a great opportunity for a crime writer of colour to be published and supported with their craft. Bring on the suspense!’
More information about the competition and how to enter can be found here.