Considering debut authors…

There’s an article in the Irish Times todayHow many first-time novelists have you read? – by Arminta Wallace.  It starts:

Reading a book by a debut or otherwise unknown author can be like taking part in a blind wine-tasting: you might love what you try – or be glad to be able to spit it out.

There seem to be two opposing impulses in the human psyche: the lure of the unknown and the fear of the unknown. When it comes to debut novels the latter often wins out over the former – making us reluctant to pick up such books at all, let alone fork out the full hardback price for an encounter with a writer whose name is unfamiliar. Hence our tendency to wait for the judges of such awards as the Costa, or the Guardian first-book prize, to read for us and narrow the selection down to shortlists and near-misses.

Let’s not overlook the Crime Writers’ Association’s John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger here.  It was created in 1973 and is the Dagger award for the best first book by a previously unpublished writer, in memory of crime writer John Creasey (1908-1973), the CWA’s founder.  Take a look at the list of winners that follows at the end of this post.  I am sure you will see some very familiar names there and I intend to analyse these later in the year.

Meanwhile, I urge you to be brave and not timid.   So many debut authors are published because they offer something fresh and new.  Allow yourselves to be lured.

CWA John Creasey Winners:

2011: Before I Go To Sleep (Doubleday) – S.J. Watson
2010: Acts of Violence (Pan Macmillan) – Ryan David Jahn
2009: Echoes From The Dead (Doubleday) – Johan Theorin, translated by Marlaine Delargy
2008: The Bethlehem Murders (Atlantic Books) – Matt Rees
2007: Sharp Objects (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) – Gillian Flynn
2006: Still Life (Hodder Headline) – Louise Penny
2005: Running Hot (Maia Press) – Dreda Say Mitchell
2004: Amagansett (Fourth Estate) – Mark Mills
2003: Mission Flats (Bantam) – William Landay
2002: The Cutting Room (Canongate) – Louise Welsh
2001: The Earthquake Bird (Picador) – Susanna Jones
2000: God is a Bullet – Boston Teran
1999: Lie in the Dark – Dan Fesperman
1998: Garnet Hill – Denise Mina
1997: Body Politic – Paul Johnston
1996: no award
1995: One for the Money – Janet Evanovich
1995: A Grave Talent – Laurie R King
1994: Big Town – Doug J Swanson
1993: no award
1992: The Ice House – Minette Walters
1991: Devil in a Blue Dress – Walter Mosley
1990: Postmortem – Patricia Cornwell
1989: A Real Shot in the Arm – Annette Roome
1988: Death’s Bright Angel – Janet Neel
1987: Dark Apostle – Denis Kilcommons
1986: Tinplate – Neville Steed
1985: The Latimer Mercy – Robert Richardson
1984: A Very Private Enterprise – Elizabeth Ironside
1983: The Night the Gods Smiled – Eric Wright
1983: The Ariadne Clue – Carol Clemeau
1982: Caroline Miniscule – Andrew Taylor
1981: The Ludi Victor – James Leigh
1980: Dupe – Liza Cody
1979: A Running Duck (US: Fair Game) – Paula Gosling
1978: Saturday of Glory – David Serafin
1977: The Judas Pair – Jonathan Gash
1976: Death of a Thin Skinned Animal – Patrick Alexander
1975: Acid Drop – Sara George
1974: The Big Fix – Roger L Simon
1973: Don’t Point That Thing at Me – Kyril Bonfiglioli

4 thoughts on “Considering debut authors…

  1. djpaterson

    I love reading a book by someone I haven’t read before and discovering what a great writer they are: The King of Lies by John Hart and Rupture by Simon Lelic, are examples of this.

    I bought The Istanbul Puzzle by LP O’Brien (for Kindle) as I was interested to read this debut after following his being picked up via Authonomy. I haven’t been disappointed!

  2. Maxine

    An admirable list of authors! Very prescient of the judges. I do try to read debuts when they seem appealing, though only read self-published very rarely, in response to a specific recommendation from a reviewer I trust (and even then with great trepidation!). Often self-published books are ruined by lack of an editor and even basic grammar/proofreading points. I’ve just checked my list of books read this year and 5 of the 22 are by debut authors (and three more by “new to me” authors).

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