Crime Cymru logo and festival

Crime Cymru | First Novel Prize

Katherine Stansfield announces the launch of Crime Cymru’s Gwobr Nofel Gyntaf / First Novel Prize, which will champion the best new crime writers in Wales.

Calling all budding crime writers in Wales! I have some very exciting news to share. Launching this week is a brand-new writing prize for crime novelists in Wales, created and administered by the writers’ collective Crime Cymru, of which I am very proud to be a member.

Crime Cymru was set up in 2016 by Alis Hawkins, Matt Johnson and Rosie Claverton – three writers with a passion to champion, support and develop crime writing in Wales. You’ve heard of Tartan Noir, Scandi Noir, why not Welsh noir? Alis Hawkins set out the case in a feature for Wales Arts Review which you can read here. Since then, the numbers of crime writers from/of/in Wales who have joined our merry band show that there’s talent a-plenty in the Welsh crime writing world. 

We have members who write in Welsh and others who write in English. Some of us are Welsh by birth while others (like myself) have settled in Wales. Some of us set our books in Wales and some don’t. Across our work, there is rich variety, from police procedurals to private investigators, historical crime and contemporary thrillers, Balkan noir and Venetian mysteries, gothic crime and psychological suspense. Above all, Crime Cymru authors have a real, meaningful connection with Wales. Not only do we want to shout about this wealth of talent at Crime Cymru, we also want to develop new crime writing in Wales. In fact, it’s one of our core aims as a collective, and this is what our new prize is all about.

We’re launching our inaugural Gwobr Nofel Gyntaf Crime Cymru First Novel Prize this week to champion new writers who are currently living in Wales, to provide a platform for their work and to support their writing development. Have you got an idea for a crime novel? Fancy penning a mystery that keeps your reader up all night? If so, Crime Cymru want to hear from you.

To enter, you’ll need the first 5,000 words of a crime novel plus a synopsis which outlines the full plot, but you don’t need to have written the whole book at the time of submission. If you’ve already got a complete book, brilliant! But it’s not essential for our prize. What is essential is that you haven’t already published a novel prior to entering (and for this we mean traditionally or self-published): this is a first novel prize, as well as being a prize for crime novels. If you’ve previously published a collection of stories, a book of poems or a work of creative non-fiction, you can enter this prize, and you can do so in English or in Welsh.

The prize is structured along the same lines as the Wales Book of the Year, with two winners: one in the Welsh language and one in English. There are two panels of judges, one for each language, and we’re thrilled to announce the stellar line-up. On the Welsh panel are writer and translator Sian Northey, Gwen Davies, translator and editor of New Welsh Review, and Jon Gower, writer and broadcaster. Our English-language judges are Sunday Times bestseller Clare Mackintosh, literary agent Peter Buckman, and rising star of crime fiction Awais Khan. All our judges are giving their time for free and Crime Cymru are extremely grateful for their support.

Crime Cymru prize - judging panel
The Crime Cymru First Novel Prize judging panel. Top row, left to right: Jon Gower, Sian Northey, Gwen Davies. Bottom row, left to right: Clare Mackintosh, Awais Khan, Peter Buckman.

We’re grateful, too, to Literature Wales for their generous support of the Gwobr Nofel Gyntaf Crime Cymru First Novel Prize. The prizes for the winner in each language are a four-night stay in Nant, the gorgeous writing retreat in the grounds of Tŷ Newydd, Wales’ national writing centre, donated by Literature Wales, plus a year of mentoring from a Crime Cymru member. Our winners will be announced at a glittering prize ceremony at the 2022 Gŵyl Crime Cymru Festival which will be held in Aberystwyth. Winners and two shortlisted writers in each language category will also receive a full festival pass, giving them the opportunity to meet a host of the UK’s top crime writers as well as industry professionals from the world of publishing.

If all this sounds like music to your ears, I have more good news: the prize is free to enter. Plus, there’s plenty of time to get your 5,000 words into shape and work out the twists and turns of your plot for the accompanying synopsis as the closing date for entries is 3rd September 2021. For full terms and conditions, and how to submit, see the dedicated page on the Crime Cymru website.

While you’re there, have a browse of our member profiles and you’ll see that contemporary crime writing is a broad church, covering a wide range of sub-genres. We’re keen to see entries which span the genre, by the writers of Wales. And if you’re looking for some inspiration, come along to our digital festival which is running from 26th April to 3rd May. Our programme features some of the best-selling crime writers in the UK today, including Abir Mukherjee, Clare Mackintosh, Elly Griffiths, Lee Child, Mari Hannah, Vaseem Khan, Trevor Wood, Peter James, Ragnar Jonasson, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, E S Thomson, Imran Mahmood, M W Craven, plus Crime Cymru’s own roster of writers. This digital festival will be Wales’ first ever crime writing festival, a fantastic precursor to our 2022 in-person festival in Aberystwyth, and it’s all free. See the full programme and book tickets here.

With the festival on the horizon and the new Gwobr Nofel Gyntaf Crime Cymru First Novel Prize launching alongside it, this is an exciting time to be a crime writer in Wales. The prize is an opportunity to find our new crime writing talent. I can’t wait to meet our next stars.

Image credits: Gwen Davies’ photograph – Jessica Raby; Clare Mackintosh’s photograph – Charlie Hopkinson.

Katherine Stansfield is a multi-genre novelist and poet. Her historical crime series Cornish Mysteries has won the Holyer an Gof Fiction Prize and been shortlisted for the Winston Graham Memorial Prize. The most recent instalment is The Mermaid’s Call. She co-writes a fantasy crime trilogy with her partner David Towsey, publishing as D. K. Fields, and has also published two full length poetry collections and a pamphlet with Seren.


Recommended for you: Wales Arts Review’s Flash Fiction collection featuring original works from Cynan Jones, Nigel Jarrett, Richard Gwyn and many more of Wales’ best literary talents.