First Drafts Competition 2016: ‘First Crimes’

The winner of the 2016 First Drafts Competition is 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.’

Now in its seventh year, Myriad’s First Drafts Competition recognises promising work in progress and is open to writers who have not yet published a collection of stories or novel. This year the 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 award was presented at a packed event at Waterstones Piccadilly by author Lisa Cutts , winner of Myriad’s First Drafts Competition in 2012. The evening featured introductions by this year’s judges, readings by the shortlisted writers and a video presentation by judge Peter James . The eight shortlisted authors read their entries and the judges discussed what made each piece stand out.

Lisa Cutts spoke about how winning the competition in 2012 launched her writing career: she was immediately signed by a literary agent, Cathryn Summerhayes from WME, offered a two-book deal by Myriad and sees her third novel published by Simon & Schuster in October.

The competition is a collaboration between Myriad and West Dean College, where Lesley Thomson and Elly Griffiths are tutors on the MA in Creative Writing and Publishing. The prize is a week-long writing retreat in the beautiful surroundings of West Dean College near Chichester, as well as 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.

Never Forget by Lisa Cutts

The competition has a proven 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 in previous years, including Lisa Cutts, whose crime debut Never Forget has 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 this year.

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); Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott (shortlisted, 2015), whose novel Swan Song has gone on to win The Bridport Prize Peggy Chapman Andrews Award for a First Novel; 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.

Karly StillingThe 2015 winner of the First Drafts Competition was Karly Stilling, for Ways From Home. Karly, on being awarded the prize by Lisa Cutts, winner in 2012, said:

‘There aren’t very many opportunities for emerging writers to get their work recognised in such a significant way, and I’m honoured to have been chosen as the recipient of this year’s prize. The support offered by Myriad will go a long way to bolster my career at this early stage, and I can’t say how pleased I am to know that others are enjoying my work.’

The 2016 shortlist was as follows:

Rebecca Daniel, for Last Breath
Jan Hurst, for Love Child
Derek Judge, for Glorietta
Trish Lorenz, for The Beautiful Game
Stephen Mullan, for The Other Side
Karan Paige, for The Wedding Picture
Vanessa Savage, for Reunion
Katy Whitehead, for The Girl On Her Phone