Sunday, June 19, 2022

Is this a DAGGER I see before me?

This is not a Dagger Award.
Every May and June my mind flashes back to Spring 2013, when I got the email here in Calgary saying I'd made the longlist for the UK's premier award for unpublished crime novelists: the Debut Dagger. It was the most exciting day of my crime-writing life! 

But it was soon superseded by another email saying I'd made the shortlist too, and that I was invited to the awards banquet in London, England.

Of course I went! All the way from Western Canada straight into southern England's hottest July. London was baking. The Tube was sweltering. I met many great crime writers both new and established. Gyles Brandreth gave a great speech that we still reference today (ask him about the 90-90 rule). Louise Penny and her lovely husband made us welcome. THIS MAN kissed my hand.

What is this award?

Not a Dagger Award either.
From the Crime Writers Association:

"The Debut Dagger is a competition for the opening of a crime novel by a writer who isn’t represented by an agent by the time the competition closes, and who has never had a traditional contract for any novel of any length, or who has never self-published any novel of any length in the last 5 years. Writers submit their opening 3,000 words and a 1,500 word synopsis. The deadline is 6pm GMT of the last working day in February.

Entries from shortlisted writers are sent to UK literary agents and publishers. Every year, authors find representation this way.

 For full rules and how to enter the Debut Dagger, please click on the Entry Process below. For info about how the CWA supports our community of debut writers visit the Debuts section."

Still not a Dagger Award
This year's Dagger Awards will be presented at the CWA Daggers Gala coming up on June 29th at Leonardo City Hotel on Cooper’s Row in London.

In the lead-up to the Big Day for the 2022 finalists, I'll be interviewing one long-listed and 3 short-listed authors on their manuscripts, their inspirations, and their life outside of writing crime.

First up, on June 21: Longlister Katherine Futurs with her entry, Lufkin, Texas.

2nd interview, on June 23: shortlister Laura Ashton Hill with Holloway Castle

3rd Interview, on June 25: Canadian shortlister Kevin Bartlett with Henry's Bomb

4th Interview, on June 27: another Canadian shortlister, Liz Rachel Walker with The Dieppe Letters.

See the full list of 2022 Debut Dagger longlisters and finalists


And how did I and my finalist manuscript do back in 2013? 

Alas, I didn't win. My opening chapter for the manuscript, 'When the Bow Breaks,' a prequel to 'When the Flood Falls,' was that year's Highly Recommended, but it wasn't picked up by any of the agents who approached me after the banquet. 'When the Flood Falls,' though, went on to win Canada's Crime Writing Award of Excellence for Best Unpublished Manuscript (the award then called the 'Unhanged Arthur') and kicked off a 3-book (so far) series set in the mountains and foothills of Western Canada: The Falls Mysteries.

STILL not a Dagger Award!

If you're an aspiring crime writer with the opening chapter of a manuscript you hope will take you far, here's a page you'll want to bookmark for when the Debut Dagger annual submission season opens again in the fall of 2022.

For the most current news about The Falls Mysteries, see 

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