A detective constable from the Metropolitan Police Service has been crowned the winner of the inaugural Write Here, Right Now open submissions competition.
Vicki Bradley scooped the prize, organised by Simon & Schuster UK, Darley Anderson Literary Agency and the Bradford Literature Festival, for her novel Before I Say I Do. As a result of her win she has secured an offer of representation from Darley Anderson Literary Agency and a publishing contract with Simon & Schuster.
Bradley’s “tense” psychological drama beat 100 other entries to claim the prize after offering “polish, suspense and huge potential”. It follows the case of a groom who goes missing on the morning of his wedding day. While Julia Talbot knows something terrible must have happened to her fiancée, DC Alana Loxton is less convinced. But then a body washes up on the shores of the Thames wearing the missing man’s watch. Before I Say I Do introduces "a host of brilliant new characters" and features insight into detective work that only an expert could provide, an S&S UK spokesperson said.
Bradley is a detective constable in the Metropolitan Police Service but has enjoyed a varied career, working as a response driver before becoming a DC in CID. She has a MA in Creative Writing from City University of London.
The judges said they were “particularly impressed by the way Ms Bradley wove Julia’s past story into the present-day narrative”.
“Similarly, Alana Loxton is more intimately connected to the crime she is investigating than she’d like to be,” they said. “And there’s a gorgeous friendship at the heart of the novel, one which really makes it stand out from the crowd. There are so many carefully connected strands within the story, which the author brings together so cleverly.”
The panel described how reducing 100 submissions into a shortlist of five was difficult and that “narrowing that down to a single winner proved almost impossible”.
“We debated until the very last minute,” the judges said. “But we finally agreed that we were all drawn to Before I Say I Do for its polish, its suspense, and most importantly, for the huge potential that Ms Bradley has demonstrated.”