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Virago/ The Pool Competition Winner Announcement 


Virago/ The Pool Competition Winner Announcement

Sarah Savitt, Publisher at Virago, and Sam Baker, Co-Founder and CEO of The Pool, are thrilled to announce that the winner of the Virago/The Pool New Crime Writer Award is Lara Thompson for her debut novel One Night, New York. Val McDermid gave Thompson the award in person today at Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival in Stirling.

Lara Thompson, whose novel was chosen from two hundred entries, has won a publishing contract with Virago as well as two hours of mentoring from acclaimed novelist Jill Dawson courtesy of Gold Dust mentoring.

One Night, New York is Lara Thompson’s first novel. She teaches film at Middlesex University, and is the author of Film Light: Meaning and Emotion. Born in Cornwall, she now lives in London.

The novel opens at the top of the Empire State Building in 1932; Frances and Agnes, possible lovers and co-conspirators, are waiting for a man who has done something terrible to both of them, with a plan to seek the ultimate revenge. Set over the course of a single night, with flashbacks to the weeks leading up to the potential murder, One Night, New York is a detective story, a romance and a coming-of-age tale. It is also a story of old New York, of bohemian Greenwich Village between the wars, of floozies and artists and addicts, of a city that sucked in creatives and immigrants alike, lighting up the world, while all around America burned amidst the heat of the Great Depression.

Virago was founded in 1973 to celebrate women’s writing and some of the imprint’s most acclaimed authors, both on the front list and the Virago Modern Classics list, have drawn on the crime and thriller genre, including Daphne du Maurier, Patricia Highsmith, Stella Duffy and Sarah Waters.

The Pool, an award-winning digital platform for women, was launched in 2015 by Sam Baker and co-founder broadcaster Lauren Laverne, with a mission to celebrate women’s voices and produce original, quality content across multiple platforms.

Bloody Scotland is Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival, unique in that it was set up by a group of Scottish crime writers in 2012. Full information at www.bloodyscotland.com.

The Virago/The Pool New Crime Writer Award was launched in February this year to discover an exciting new author for the Virago list who was writing a suspenseful, intelligent, original crime or thriller novel. To enter the competition, writers had to submit a 5,000-word sample plus a 500-word synopsis. The judges were novelist Erin Kelly, literary agent Jo Unwin, journalist Coco Khan, Scott Free Development Executive Emily Iredale, Sam Baker and Sarah Savitt.

Lara Thompson says: ‘I am absolutely thrilled to be the recipient of this award. To be published by Virago is an honour, not least because they have consistently championed some of my favourite authors – Maya Angelou, Patricia Highsmith, Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters – but also because they are dedicated to promoting intelligent, provocative women’s writing that pushes the boundaries of traditional genre fiction. Ever since The Pool first appeared in my inbox, it’s felt like a close friend – feminist, bolshy, always smart and frequently hilarious. I am delighted to be featured on their pages. Now all I have to do is finish writing the novel!’

Sarah Savitt says:Launching a competition is a leap in the dark but Lara Thompson is exactly the kind of writer we were hoping to find: a fresh talent whose debut crime novel is beautifully written (her descriptions of 30s New York are completely beguiling), full of captivating characters, and has a premise that makes you desperate to know what’s going to happen next. I can’t wait to work with her and to publish what is going to be a fantastic debut crime novel. I’m really grateful to the Pool for being a wonderful partner, to the judges for their time, energy and enthusiasm, and to all the writers who entered.’

Sam Baker says: ‘The Pool is committed to celebrating women’s voices in all genres, so we’re thrilled to have been part of the inaugural Virago crime writing competition, to find and promote new female crime writing talent. The calibre of entries was incredibly high. If these are anything to go by I feel really excited about the future of writing by women in general and crime writing in particular.’

Read an extract from One Night, New York and an interview with Lara Thompson here: https://www.the-pool.com/arts-culture/books/2017/36/meet-the-winner-of-virago-and-the-pool-s-new-crime-writer-award

For more information please contact Virago’s Deputy Publicity Director Zoe Hood on +442031226675 or Zoe.Hood@littlebrown.co.uk

Biographies for the judges:

Sam Baker grew up in Hampshire and studied politics at Birmingham University before embarking on a successful twenty-year career in magazine journalism, during which she edited some of the UK’s biggest magazines, including Cosmopolitan and Red. In 2015, she co-founded and launched The Pool, with broadcaster Lauren Laverne. An award-winning digital platform for women, the Pool has a mission to celebrate and amplify women’s voices. Sam is also the author of five novels, the most recent of which is the psychological thriller, The Woman Who Ran. 

Emily Iredale is Development Executive for Scott Free, the London branch of Ridley Scott’s TV company, and is currently developing a range of dramas and comedies for television. She has previously worked at Kindle Entertainment and Spun Gold TV. An avid reader throughout her life, being employed to read books, scripts and pitches on a day to day basis is her dream job. Spot her name in the credits of Scott Free’s series Taboo for BBC One & FX, co-produced with Hardy Son & Baker, written by Steven Knight and starring Tom Hardy. 

Erin Kelly’s debut The Poison Tree was a major ITV drama and a Richard and Judy bestseller. She is the author of three more acclaimed psychological thrillers, and was chosen to write the novelisation of the Bafta-winning Broadchurch. Erin also works as a freelance journalist and creative writing tutor. Her next novel, He Said/She Said, is out in April. She lives in North London.

Coco Khan was born, and lives, in London where she currently works as a journalist for The Guardian. She is also a regular contributor to The Independent and New York Magazine among others, and is editor-at-large with youth publication, Complex. Her essay, ‘Whose Voice Is It Anyway?: Ethnicity and Authenticity in the Arts’, appeared in Counterculture UK in 2015. Most recently, her short fictional memoir, ‘Flags’, featured in The Good Immigrant (2016), and won individual praise from The SpectatorVice and the BBC. The piece was subsequently serialized in Emerald Street and adapted for BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week. She is currently working on her first book.

Sarah Savitt is Publisher at Virago. Previously she worked at Headline, Faber and David Godwin Associates. Authors she has published include Louise Doughty, Kate Hamer, Sara Pascoe, Maria McCann, Karen Rose, Owen Sheers, Sarah Schmidt and Hanif Kureishi. She has also taught for Arvon, Faber Academy and Guardian Masterclasses.

Jo Unwin wrote for TV (Byker Grove, My Parents are Aliens) and acted in theatre, commercials (remember ‘We Want to be Together‘ ?) and TV (mostly comedy: Fry and Laurie, Lee and Herring,  a series of Casualty). But then one day she had the blinding insight that what she really loved was talking about, and being around, was books.  So she became a scout for Aardman Features and went to work at a bookshop. She joined Conville and Walsh Literary Agency in 2008 and was in a shortlist of three for the Bookseller Industry Awards Literary Agent of the Year in 2010, and was picked out as one of the Bookseller’s Rising Stars in 2011. She has now set up JULA ltd, based at Somerset House.

Biography for Jill Dawson:

Jill Dawson has often drawn on real figures and events for her novels, which include Fred and Edie about the murderess Edith Thompson, shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award and the Orange Prize, The Great Lover about Rupert Brooke, which was a Richard & Judy Summer Read, Wild Boy about the first recorded case of autism in 18th-century France, and most recently The Crime Writer, based on the life of Patricia Highsmith. Her other novels are Trick of the Light, Magpie, Watch Me Disappear (longlisted for the Orange Prize), Lucky Bunny and The Tell-Tale Heart. An award-winning poet, she has edited six anthologies of poetry and short stories. She began her writing career writing for Virago Upstarts and edited three anthologies for Virago. She has also held many fellowships, including the Creative Writing Fellowship at the University of East Anglia, and has an honorary doctorate from Anglia Ruskin University. She lives in the Fens with her husband, two sons and foster daughter.

Special mention to our five runners-up: 



Vicki Bradley: BEFORE I SAY I DO

Anna Sayburn Lane: UNLAWFUL THINGS

Nia Tunnicliffe: GODS AND MONSTERS