The CWA Debut Dagger 2006
D V Wesselmann wins with Imp
Otis Twelve – the pseudonym of US writer D V Wesselmann – has won the 2006 Debut Dagger with Imp: Being the Lost Notebooks of Rufus Wilmot Griswold In the Matter of the Death of Edgar Allan Poe. He was presented with his award by Lisa Milton, Managing Director of sponsors Orion, and wins a £500 cash prize plus a night for two at the Waldorf Hilton, London after the prize-giving at the Dagger Awards Dinner held there on 29 June. Diane Janes was highly commended for her entry Moonshadow.
The secrets of the last, missing week of Edgar Allan Poe are revealed by the lost journals of his rival, his friend, his literary executor, his failed assassin, Rufus Wilmot Griswold. Imp is a Gothic-Noir laudanum and absinthe soaked quest through the perversions, violence, and horror of pre-Civil War Baltimore that inverts a literary legend and celebrates the human compulsion to do wrong. Read the opening here.
'A very distinctive and ambitious entry. There's a lot to like here - an excellent gothic setting and atmosphere – and an interesting balance between whimsy and horror.'
The Debut Dagger, sponsored by Orion, is open to anyone who has not yet had a novel published commercially. Contestants had until April 29th to submit the opening chapter(s) – up to 3000 words – and a short synopsis of their proposed crime novel. We take a broad view of what constitutes a crime novel, and welcome as wide a variety of styles, subjects, settings, time-periods and genres as possible.
Otis Twelve is a former trainee Benedictine monk, stand-up comedian, radio host, T.V. critic, and concert narrator. In September 2002 he ended a twenty-five year stint in radio and turned his attention to writing fiction full-time. The first three books in his "Tools" series On the Albino Farm, Sometimes a Prozac Notion, and Dead Man Dancing were finalists in 2003, 2004, and 2005. On the Albino Farm, won the 2005 Lit Idol competition. His short fiction has appeared in The North American Review, Crimespree Magazine, Flashing in the Gutters, The Templeton Prize Anthology (Cosimo 2005), Best New Noir of 2006 (Point Blank 2006), and F**k Noir (Forthcoming). Otis Twelve lives unobtrusively in the tiny hamlet of Walnut, Iowa.
Highly commended: MOONSHADOW – Diane Janes (UK)
When Kate Mayfield receives a letter from Mrs Ivanisovic, it not only re-opens painful memories, but also makes her realise that the secret she has kept for thirty years is not so safe as she imagined. Mrs Ivanisovic asks for the truth – but can Kate afford to be candid - and is her story of love, loss, murder and lies really what Mrs Ivanisovic wants to hear ?
Robert Richardson (Chair) - CWA Chair
Juliet Burton - Literary Agent, Juliet Burton Literary Agency
Kate Lyall-Grant - Senior Fiction Editor, Simon and Schuster
Krystyna Green - Editorial Director of Fiction, Constable & Robinson
Genevieve Pegg - Editor, Orion
John Williams - Crime Editor, Serpent's Tail
Winning the Debut Dagger doesn't guarantee you'll get published. But it does mean your work will be seen by major publishers and agents who have signed up over a dozen new authors as a result of the competition. Most previous winners of the Debut Dagger have gained publishing contracts and are now on their way to becoming successful crime writers.
Inaugural winner Joolz Denby was short-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction, while 2001 winner Ed Wright has recently been awarded the Shamus award for best P.I. novel by the Private Eye Writers of America. Barbara Cleverly, shortlisted in 1999, won the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger award in 2004. Louise Penny was very highly commended in the 2004 Debut Dagger for the opening of Still Life, which has won this year's New Blood Dagger.
The other eight entries on this year's shortlist were:
THE HOUSE ON FEVER STREET – Celina Alcock
THE BELFAST BOY – Paul Curd
SPECIAL DELIVERY – Sarah Kotler
ONE OF US – Iain Rowan
IKUMO – Elizabeth Saccente
A CARRION DEATH – Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip
FIDDLE GAME – Richard A. Thompson
A RANDOM ACT OF GENEROSITY – Megan Toogood
All shortlisted entrants received a generous selection of crime novels and professional assessments of their entries They were also invited to the Dagger Awards Dinner. Although they did not win the prize, this need not be the end of the story. Louise Penny's Still Life, runner up in 2004, has just won the 2006 New Blood Dagger.