Now in its eighth year, Myriad’s First Drafts Competition recognises promising work in progress from previously unpublished writers. The 2017 competition will launch in May and judges will be announced shortly.
Last year, the 2016 First Drafts Competition celebrated crime and thrillers, and was judged by an all-star panel of bestselling crime writers: Lisa Cutts, Elly Griffiths, Elizabeth Haynes, Peter James and Lesley Thomson. The winner was Vanessa Savage whose extract from her novel, Reunion, was described by bestselling crime author Elly Griffiths as ‘a big, bold idea about grief and memory made real. This is confident writing, and heralds an original new voice in the genre.’
The award was presented by Lisa Cutts at a packed event at Waterstones Piccadilly. Lisa spoke about how winning the competition in 2012 launched her writing career: she was immediately signed by a literary agent, Cathryn Summerhayes (Curtis Brown), offered a two-book deal by Myriad and, in 2017, saw her third novel published by Simon & Schuster.
The competition is a collaboration between Myriad and West Dean College who sponsor the prize — a week-long writing retreat at West Dean, near Chichester, in the glorious stately home of art collector Edward James. The winner author is also offered detailed editorial feedback from industry experts and six months’ mentoring by a Myriad author.
Myriad’s First Drafts Competition is at the heart of our mission to discover and nurture bold and exciting new writers. There are very few competitions for a work in progress and this is a brilliant opportunity for aspiring authors to get their work noticed by publishers and agents.
The competition has a track record in launching writers who have gone on to enjoy creative and commercial success. Myriad has published several writers brought to its attention through the competition, including Lisa Cutts, whose crime debut Never Forget was been optioned by a major TV company; Nina de la Mer, author of the acclaimed novels 4 a.m. and Layla; Hannah Vincent, whose debut, Alarm Girl, came out in 2014; S.E. Craythorne, author of How You See Me, and Sara Marshall-Ball, author of Hush, both published in 2015.
Other past successes include 2010 winner Kirsty Logan, who used her retreat to write a short story that she later expanded to become her novel, The Gracekeepers (Harvill Secker); 2013 winner Al Brookes, author of The Gift of Looking Closely (Guardian Self-Published Book of the Month); Juliet West, whose novel-in-progress Before the Fall (Pan) was shortlisted in 2013; American short story writer Owen D. Cluer (winner, 2014), was signed by literary agent Becky Thomas (Johnson & Alcock); and Paul McVeigh (shortlisted, 2013), whose novel The Good Son was published by Salt and went on to win the Guardian Not-the-Booker Prize.
Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott (shortlisted, 2015), whose novel Swan Song went on to win The Bridport Prize Peggy Chapman Andrews Award for a First Novel and will be published by Hutchinson in 2018, remarked:
‘I don’t think you could possibly know how much your early support of Swan Song meant. Myriad validated that I had created something special, and gave me the momentum to sprint forward and never look back. To now have everything come to fruition is amazing, and I know what a hugely significant role you and Myriad have played in that journey.’