A M Heath literary agency, the Orion Publishing Group and Crime Monthly have teamed up to launch Criminal Lines 2023, a new £3,500 crime writing prize open to unagented, debut authors, born or resident in the UK and Ireland.
From psychological thrillers, cosy crime to serial killer thrillers, entrants are invited to submit the opening 5,000 words of a novel with “criminal intent”, plus a synopsis of no more than 1,000 words here.
Entries open on 3rd August 2023 and close on 7th December 2023. The winner will be selected by a panel of judges including A M Heath agents Euan Thorneycroft and Oli Munson, Crime Monthly assistant editor Lisa Howells, Orion Fiction editors Leodora Darlington and Sam Eades, and authors Vaseem Khan and Mari Hannah.
Howells said: “It’s such an exciting time to be a crime writer, and it’s a privilege to be able to help launch someone into their dream career.”
Thorneycroft said: “We know there are great undiscovered crime and thriller writers out there and we can’t wait to find the next star of British and Irish crime writing.”
Darlington added: “We are delighted to be partners-in-crime with A M Heath and Crime Monthly, and look forward to discovering crime fiction’s next superstar. We are looking for unforgettable voices, a strong sense of place, books with series potential, killer openings and endings that will get readers talking.”
Hannah said she had no hesitation in agreeing to judge the prize. “If you are an aspiring writer who has plucked up the courage to enter such a prestigious competition, congratulations. Taking that huge step is an achievement in itself, an opportunity not to be missed for anyone chasing the dream of being published”.
“I’ll be looking for originality, a strong voice, a manuscript that moves me, one that urges me to read on. I’m waiting patiently for your submission. Your job is to blow me away with your storytelling. Good luck everyone.”
Khan added: "It took me two ego-bruising decades and seven unpublished novels to finally find myself in print. This new prize aims to help shortcut that journey for unpublished writers with the talent, commitment and sheer bloody-mindedness to become crime and thriller novelists – bloody being the operative word. Working with stellar brains at A M Heath, Orion and Crime Monthly, I’ll be looking for twisted, dark and murdery tales, told with panache."