Harvill Secker launches BAME crime writing competition

Harvill Secker launches BAME crime writing competition

Harvill Secker is launching a competition in partnership with Bloody Scotland to find a debut crime writer from a BAME (black, Asian, minority ethnic) background. At stake is a book deal with Harvill Secker with an advance of £5,000.

The prize will be judged by Harvill Secker writer and Bloody Scotland committee member Abir Mukherjee, the author of an historical crime series set in 1920s Calcutta; creator of the Shetland and Vera series, Ann Cleeves; co-founder of BAME in Publishing, Sarah Shaffi and Harvill Secker editorial director Jade Chandler.

Entrants can enter the competition online via Penguin's website, where they will be asked to submit the first 5,000 words of their crime novel, along with a full plot outline. Submissions are open from 9th July until 9th September 2018, with the winner due to be announced in November 2018.

The winner will have their book published under the Harvill Secker imprint in a publishing deal with an advance of £5,000. Additional "perks" will include a panel appearance at the Bloody Scotland festival in 2019 and a series of three one-to-one mentoring sessions with Mukherjee. The Arvon Foundation – now in its 50th year – also joins the competition as a sponsor and is offering the winner the chance to attend any one of their creative writing courses or writing retreats in 2019, with all expenses paid.

Chandler said Harvil Secker had wanted to "do something pro-active" to address the dearth of BAME crime writers. 

"While the crime writing community is diverse in many ways, it lacks authors from BAME backgrounds," she said. "With crime fiction’s increasing popularity, it seems more important than ever that its creators should be more representative of those who may enjoy reading within the genre. We want to do something pro-active to address this and I am delighted that we’re teaming up with Abir Mukherjee and such brilliant sponsors and judges to do so. I can’t wait to find an exciting new writer to publish on the Harvill Secker crime list."

Mukherjee said: "I’m excited to be part of this new initiative being launched by Harvill Secker and Bloody Scotland. At this time of great change, it’s more important than ever that the experiences and viewpoints of writers from across the spectrum of our society are published. Different viewpoints mean different stories, which in turn lead to a wider, richer literary atmosphere, hopefully reaching out to communities who feel marginalised or who have traditionally lacked a voice."

Bloody Scotland’s Bob McDevitt added: "Bloody Scotland is 100% behind this important new prize and it fits in perfectly with the work we have been doing recently with the British Council to bring crime writers from India to Scotland. We think that breaking down barriers in terms of access to authors from different cultural and social backgrounds will only improve the richness of the crime writing genre."