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The CWA Debut Dagger Competition

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Article by Louise Phillips © 13 January 2013.
Posted in Guest Blogs ().

Debut Dagger

Fancy a stab at Crime Writing?

The 2013 CWA Debut Dagger Competition opened on 1 November and runs for three months with a closing date of Saturday 2 February 2013. The shortlisted entries will be announced at Crimefest in May. The overall winner will be announced at the CWA Awards ceremony in July.

Winning the Debut Dagger doesn’t guarantee you’ll get published. But it does mean your work will be seen by leading agents and top editors, who have signed up over two dozen winners and shortlisted Debut Dagger competitors.

“I remember hesitating before spending the entry fee – but it turned out to be the best 25 quid I ever spent!” — Annie Hauxwell, whose 2011 shortlisted entry A Vicious Indulgence was published by Random House in May 2012, as In Her Blood.

The Debut Dagger is open to anyone who has not yet had a novel published commercially. The first prize is £700 and all shortlisted entrants will receive a professional assessment of their entries.

Building on success

The string of successes below has been joined – some would say capped – by Belinda Bauer. Having been Highly Commended in the 2008 Debut Dagger competition, Belinda’s first novel Blacklands won the 2010 CWA Gold Dagger, and was selected forMore4 television’s book club.

Inaugural winner Joolz Denby was short-listed in 2005 for the Orange Prize for Fiction, while 2001 winner Ed Wright was awarded the 2005 Shamus award for best P.I. novel by the Private Eye Writers of America. Allan Guthrie won the 2007 Theakstons Old Peculiar 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 CWA New Blood Dagger, whilst Orion published I’m Half-sick of Shadows in November 2011 – the fourth by book in the popular Flavia de Luce series by our 2007 winner Alan Bradley. In addition, the Flavia de Luce mysteries have been optioned for television by director Sam Mendes.

Another success story is 2001 shortlisted author Adrian Magson, Recently described by the Daily Mail as “a classic crime star in the making”, he has had three crime fiction series published by three different publishers. In addition, his novel Red Station – the first Harry Tate spy thriller – has been optioned by Hollywood Production company Benderspink (‘A History of Violence’).

Follow this link to find out how to enter the competition. To receive regular reminders of the competition deadline, as well as useful hints and tips, sign up for our free mailing list. There’s a form at the foot of this page. More help and guidance can be found on our What to Write and Style Guide pages, and in the mailing list archive. If you have any questions, please first check the frequently asked questions page to see if your query is answered there.

For all other details email debut.dagger@thecwa.co.uk .


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LOUISE PHILLIPS is the author of four bestselling psychological crime thrillers. Her debut novel RED RIBBONS, and her subsequent novels, THE DOLL’S HOUSE, LAST KISS and THE GAME CHANGER, were each nominated for Best Irish Crime Novel of the Year. She won the award in 2013. Louise’s work has formed part of many literary anthologies, and she has won both the Jonathan Swift Award and the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice platform, along with being shortlisted for the Molly Keane Memorial Award, Bridport UK, and many others. In 2015, she was awarded a writing residency at Cill Rialaig Artist retreat and she was also a judge on the Irish panel for the EU Literary Award. In 2016, she was longlisted for the prestigious CWA Dagger in the Library Award, and her first two novels, RED RIBBONS and THE DOLL'S HOUSE, were published in the US. She has recently been awarded an Arts Bursary for Literature from the Arts Council of Ireland, and her latest novel, THE HIDING GAME, will be published on September 5th 2019. Louise Phillips is the crime writing mastermind behind writing.ie's Crime Scene blog.