Caz Frear has won the Richard and Judy ‘Search for a Bestseller’ competition for her crime thriller Sweet Little Lies.
The competition for first-time unpublished writers was launched in March 2016 by television stars Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan in association with WH Smith and Bonnier Zaffre.
The book came top of a shortlist of eight announced in July, leaving time for the shortlisted authors to finish their books after entries were initially judged on the basis of 10,000 words. Frear, who has a background in headhunting, will now receive a publishing contract for world rights with Bonnier Zaffre, worth £50,000, representation from literary agency Furniss Lawton and assurance her book will be stocked in WH Smith stores across the country.
Madeley and Finnigan hailed Frear "an exciting new talent", praising the author for her "storytelling ability, distinctive voice and fantastic grasp of character". Her book, set in contemporary London with flashbacks to late 1990s Ireland, sees police detective Cat Kinsella investigating the murder of Alice Lapaine. When her body is discovered near the pub Cat’s father runs, and evidence emerges linking Alice to a girl who went missing in Ireland 18 years before, secrets and resentments of the past threaten to spill out.
Frear said it was "a dream come true" to finally be a published author. "Seeing my book on the shelves and finally being able to call myself a published author hasn’t just been a dream, it’s been an obsession for as long as I can remember and I’m so, so grateful to everyone who was involved in choosing Sweet Little Lies as the winner,” she said.
The competition's last winner, Amy Snow by Tracy Rees, has since been published in eight territories (including the US) and, according to Bonnier Zaffre, has sold over 100,000 copies across all formats.
Kate Parkin, Bonnier Zaffre’s executive director for Adult Fiction, said: "Out of a very strong shortlist, the freshness of Caz Frears’ voice and the vitality of her story-telling stood out. We are delighted to be publishing such a strong first novel and look forward to working with Caz to bring Sweet Little Lies to the wide audience it deserves."
Madeley and Finnigan said: "The competition was tough but Caz Frear was the stand out choice to us. Her storytelling ability, distinctive voice and fantastic grasp of character really impressed us. An exciting new talent has entered the world of crime fiction."
Sweet Little Lies will be published by Bonnier Zaffre in July 2017.
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