Virago deputy publisher Sarah Savitt and The Pool c.e.o. Sam Baker have launched a competition to find a new female crime writer for Virago.
The Virago/The Pool New Crime Writer Award aims to find a female writer for the Virago list who is already writing a "suspenseful" and "intelligent" original crime or thriller novel.
The winner will be offered a publishing contract with Virago as well as two hours of mentoring by novelist Jill Dawson courtesy of Gold Dust mentoring
For a chance to feature on the Virago list, writers have been asked to submit a 5,000-word sample and a 500-word synopsis via the website.
Entries will be judged by Baker and Savitt, as well as by novelist Erin Kelly, author of The Poison Tree (Hodder), literary agent Jo Unwin, journalist Coco Khan, and Emily Iredale, development executive for Scott Free, the London branch of Ridley Scott’s TV company. The winner will be announced in September.
Savitt said she hoped the competition would bring to light a "smart, nail-biting, provocative novel", believing the genre had evolved to explore more feminist issues.
"I believe crime and thriller authors are exploring women’s lives in a particularly interesting way at the moment, and the genre is overlapping with conversations in feminism about consent, domestic violence, gender roles and much more, which feels stimulating and is producing great stories," said Savitt. "I am hoping to find a smart, nail-biting, provocative novel in that tradition through our competition in partnership with The Pool. I am grateful to all of our wonderful judges and am confident we will find some brilliant new talent."
Baker, who is also a judge for 2017's Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, said the competition combined The Pool’s mission to celebrate women’s voices and bring them to a wider audience, with her own passion for crime and thrillers." Female crime writers - from Patricia Highsmith to our judge Erin Kelly - have been asking difficult questions of our society for decades, and now, more than ever, the world requires unflinching scrutiny. I’m excited for the talent we might uncover,” she added.