National Centre for Writing is pleased to announce its ‘Season of Debuts’: a programme that will focus on championing the work of early career writers through a combination of physical and online events, partnerships, commissions, podcasts, media features, residencies and exchanges. It will begin with the winner and shortlistees of the Desmond Elliott Prize 2022 – the most prestigious award for debut novelists – appearing at the The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival this autumn and will run until Spring 2023.
Season of Debuts will shine a light on debut books and first-time authors to demonstrate how important it is to create platforms for early career writers who are critical for our literary ecology. It will take place instead of the 2023 Desmond Elliott Prize, which the NCW has run as part of its Early Career Awards since 2020 after securing an initial three years’ worth of funding, to allow the NCW to talk to funders, writers, publishers, booksellers, festival partners, media partners and others to develop its bid for the future of the prize.
As part of the Season of Debuts programme, NCW will interview, commission and host debut novelists as part of existing NCW programmes, plus offer reading groups free online access to resources around these books and writers. The programme will engage bookshops who have supported the Desmond Elliott Prize, championing and hosting books and writers in store and online, and will incorporate Prize alumni in events, interviews and commissioning opportunities across NCW programmes to encourage and inform the coming generation of novelists. It will also commission, interview and host industry colleagues including publishers, agents, development agencies and competitions to discuss debut publishing.
CEO of the National Centre for Writing, Chris Gribble said:
‘Early career writers are at the heart of NCW’s mission, and this programme is an important platform for that work. The pandemic resulted in a slew of brilliant first novels – and their writers – disappearing without the usual means of support that would have brought them a greater readership. Fewer trade promotions, no festivals or events to connect with readers in person, reduced review coverage and a pandemic narrative that readers seek comfort rather than the shock of the new in difficult times made for a perfect storm for debut novelists.
‘The end of the Guardian First Book Award, the Costa First Novel Award and soon the Sunday Times Short Story Prize means there are fewer opportunities than ever for the work of early career writers to be recognised and given a significant platform, and we want to do what we can to address that. So, instead of a single prize in 2023, NCW will deliver a ‘Season of Debuts’ which will shine a light on early career writers across all our activities, make our case for support clear, and allow us to continue championing first-time novelists whilst also building a bid to continue the Desmond Elliott Prize from 2024 onwards.’
Anyone interested in supporting or participating in the Season of Debuts should contact Laura Stimson on [email protected].
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