NTN: Ann Cleeves writing competition

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Pan Macmillan has announced that the George and Molly Palmer-Jones series by Ann Cleeves – first released between 1986 and 1996 – is to be published in ebook format under its Bello imprint. But what’s even more exciting for would-be crime authors is that the company has opened a competition in which you’ll get the chance to collaborate with Ann Cleeves herself on a short story. The winning work will be published in an anthology Cleeves is putting together – a great opportunity for new crime writing talents out there.

Here’s how it works. Cleeves has written the first paragraph of a new story featuring George and Molly, set on the Welsh island of Skokholm in the Irish Sea. Anyone entering the competition must take this paragraph and complete the story. The finished piece can be up to 1000 words, and the closing date for entries is 29 November 2013.

The competition will be judged by the author along with Welsh nature programme TV presenter Iolo Williams. The winning work will be published in a collection of short stories set on islands around the British Isles that Ann Cleeves is putting together. You need to be 18 or older and a UK resident to enter.


“My first novel, A Bird in the Hand, was published in 1986,” says Cleeves. “It introduced retired civil servant and enthusiastic naturalist George Palmer-Jones. The victim was a birdwatcher, killed in a hide in a Norfolk nature reserve, hit over the head with a heavy brass telescope. Until recently the book had long been out of print. However, the Palmer-Jones novels have had a new lease of life under the Bello imprint.”

To get a feel for the characters, you can download the first three chapters of A Bird in the Hand here. Further details about the competition can be found here, and you can read the first paragraph that Ann Cleeves has written below:

Skokholm story
They came to Skokholm in late summer before the Manx shearwaters and storm petrels left the island, crossing the water from the Pembrokeshire mainland in the early morning. It was a still, sultry day. Light bounced from the water, turning the island into a black silhouette. George was silent and Molly wondered suddenly if their relationship would survive constant companionship, the routine of domestic life. The boat rounded a headland and she saw a rough jetty, bloated seals hauled onto the rocks. They’d arrived. The first adventure of their retirement. The boatman helped them off with their bags then disappeared. They’d expected to be met at the pier by the wardens, but there was no sign of the promised tractor. The place was entirely silent.

Ann Cleeves is best known for both the Vera Stanhope and the Shetland series of crime novels, and won the CWA Gold Dagger in 2006 with Raven Black. Both sets of books have been adapted for television in the UK. You can read our review of her novel Dead Water here.

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