So You Want to be a Crime Novelist?

 Aspiring authors were invited to submit a pitch of 100 words in a bid to win the opportunity to pitch their book in under three minutes to a panel of experts – not to mention in front of a real live audience! More than sixty entries were received but only eight brave wannabes made the cut. The event was sponsored by The Open University in Scotland.
The panel:
Mark Stanton (literary agent at Jenny Brown Associates), Alison Hennessey (editor at Harvill Secker), Joseph Knobbs (last year’s winner and crime fiction buyer at Waterstones).
Chaired by Jenny Brown – who was armed with trusty stopwatch to keep everything in order.
Here’s what happened…
Promise Me by Sarah Reynolds
The pitch: Cath, an accountant, attempts to uncover the truth about what really happened to her relative Katie years earlier. In a bid to solve the mystery, she enlists the help of a rather dubious private investigator. Events span six decades and Cath wonders who she can trust from the past or the present.
The panel: Interesting to see if the author can manage two time periods. Off–beat character. Would be good to see how the setting of Glasgow changes over the course of the story.
The Swans of Lake Leman by Allan Gill
The pitch: Begins in Germany in 1945, with the discovery of a vast cache of Nazi gold. Then, in Switzerland in 1979, the unidentifiable body of an old man is found at Lake Leman. Detective Inspector Laurent Vago investigates what looks like murder.
The panel: Sounds like a great big thriller. Great opening. Lots happening but it’s well thought out. Real market for the international sales team. Possibly shorten the title of the book.
Dead Shore by Julie Whitley
The pitch: Set in 1982, a woman’s body is found on a beach in Jersey. Surfer cop and single mum Milly Matson investigates while at the same time battling sexism from within the police force. Bergerac this ain’t. The first in a series featuring the detective.
The panel: The idea of a small closed location appeals. The author’s own background in the police is a plus. Questions over whether the 1980s setting works or not. Great book title but the character’s name is a bit cosy.
Murder at the Mela – DCI Patel Investigates by Leela Soma
The pitch: The body of an Asian woman is found in a park in Glasgow and DCI Patel – a teetotaller and vegetarian – is given the case. Earlier, police break up a confrontation between the BNP and Asian gangs. Then, another body is found in the city’s West End.
The panel: Sounds like a lot happening so make sure not to overwhelm. Great, fresh character. Big issues going on. The unique selling point is the Asian detective. Great plot but change the title.Pitch Perfect Iain McLean
The High Rise Overview Effect by Alex Cox
The pitch: Set in a Glasgow high rise which is 30 stories high. A 30–year story arc, with 30 perspectives. In 1980, a boy plunges 30 floors to his death. Recently, a second tragedy has taken place. The truth is revealed in the final chapter when the story reaches the roof.
The panel: More of a literary feel. Ambitious story but the title needs work. Need to be convinced that it all comes together. Difficult to write but would be interesting to read.
It Is Only Just by Siobhan McKinney
The pitch: Set against an Ulster backdrop, Allanagh transforms into alter ego Muriel and becomes a vigilante and then international assassin. The action switches from a suburban street in Northern Ireland to criminal activity in Spain.
The panel: A tiny bit confused by the plot. Lots going on. Not sure what the main focus is. Difficult to emphasis with a killer and know how to relate to the character.
Sharkmitts by Dan Stewart
The pitch: Jenny, a native of the Black Isle, has a condition called face blindness, which means she can’t recognise faces. Then she recognises a man at the remembrance service for her sister. She enlists the help of the detective who worked on the case to find out more about the man.
The panel: Like the sound of the main character’s struggle. Shades of Before I Go To Sleep. Don’t like the title, it needs something more mysterious. Black Isle setting is good.
Black Milk by Cath Bore
The pitch: Laura is poor and works in a chippy. She is being blackmailed into grassing on her local community to the police. When a body is found with the word ’grass’ sprayed next to it, she fears she could be next. She faces the choice – kill or be killed. Stand alone book.
The panel: Very confident pitch. The gritty, urban setting is interesting. It feels like a police procedural but with a unique viewpoint. Sounds like a great idea.
And the winners, who both received swanky Toshiba tablets, were:
Alex Cox and Dan Stewart. Congratulations!Pitch Perfect finalists credit Iain McLean
Pitch Perfect winners, credit Iain McLean
Post by Lisa GrayPictures by Iain McLean