The Crime Writers' Association

The Debuts

It all began with the Daggers… by Victoria Selman

In January 2017, I had no agent, no publisher and no real idea how to get either.
Fast forward two years and my novel, Blood for Blood (the first in a series
featuring Ziba Mackenzie, an ex-special forces profiler specialising in serial killers) is
a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic and has been sold in major deals around
the world.

It’s been quite an adventure and it all began the day I decided to enter the initial
3,000 words of my then unfinished manuscript to the Debut Daggers. I knew the
competition would be steep; every year hundreds of people enter from all over the
world. Maths has never been my thing, but even I could tell the odds were stacked
against me.

‘Is it worth it?’ I asked my husband, umming and ahhing about whether to hit ‘submit’.

‘Believe in yourself,’ he said. ‘What have you got to lose?’

He was right, not just because there wasn’t a down side, but also because
the up side was huge. Entering the Debut Dagger would be a good test of my manuscript’s
potential, a sign it had what it takes to stand out from the crowd.

I polished off my opening chapters in which Ziba is caught up in a horrific train
crash and a dying woman passes on a cryptic message: He did it. You have to tell
someone.

By the time I’d been shortlisted, I had an agent (the brilliant Alice Lutyens from
Curtis Brown), however there’s no question that being whittled down to one of five
helped me get a two-book deal with my English rights publisher as well as other
foreign rights deals. And it’s still the first credit I put on all my bios.