How a Crime Writing course won me an international award and gave me the confidence to self-publish

Writing Crime alum, Jay Jones, talks about how our course brought her out of a creative slump and helped her write an internationally-award winning debut novel.

Jay Jones

Crime, mysteries and detective novels have always been my favourite and having read more books than I can count in this genre, I was confident I knew more than enough to write a novel.

Which I did. In fact, I wrote two full-length novels. I was equally convinced that my manuscripts would be snapped up by agents and publishers. But the 35 rejections that followed, soon sobered me up, and I shelved creative writing altogether for over six years.

However, the itch to write was only lying dormant, and it returned with a vengeance. But this time, I was determined not to make the same mistakes. And so, in May 2021, I signed up to PWA’s Writing Crime course, which, at the time, was delivered in collaboration with Faber Academy.

Never having done a creative writing course before and despite having the course outline in front of me, I still wasn’t sure what to expect and I started the course with some trepidation. But the structured course, each session dealing with a specific element of fiction writing, such as a sense of place/atmosphere, creating captivating characters, devising a powerful plot, etc., were exactly what I needed. Each session included a range of extracts from carefully chosen authors as well as webinars to emphasise these elements, and to help us understand the techniques used by the different writers. It also taught us how to employ these tactics in our own writing.

The webinars delivered by experts in their field, such as Graham Bartlett, were a treasure trove of facts and information.

It was also fascinating to read my fellow students’ works and to see how they wove the same prompt into a completely different and intriguing story. Feedback from my peers was invaluable in reshaping and refining my work.

The writing exercises had us create a scene or chapter based on a prompt relevant to the theme of each of the sessions. One of our early assignments was to create a police detective. For me, that was Detective Inspector Cathy Collins.

With my tendency to speed-read fight scenes and car chases, I found a subsequent assignment, which was to write an action scene, particularly challenging. But to my surprise, the reading material and webinars truly helped and thus, my second protagonist, ex-SAS Captain Mick O’Neal – part-time chauffeur, occasional gigolo, and full-time assassin for hire – was born.

I really enjoyed the assignments, which, over the duration of the course, meant I had over 6,000 words I could use. What I did not expect was that the two characters, Cathy and Mick, would stay with me even after the course ended. And once the idea of a romance between these two unlikely characters popped into my head, I had no way out but to develop them into a full-length novel.

And to my delight, my novel won the international 2022 Page Turner Award in the Crime Genre under its then working title, The Assassin Who Loved Me.

Winning the Page Turner Award in the crime genre gave me the confidence to self-publish, and I am thrilled that my novel, now re-titled I, SAID THE FLY, (which still includes scenes that my cohort members will recognise), is now published and available on Amazon worldwide.

The Writing Crime course has made an enormous difference to not only my writing but also to the way I now read books. As an added bonus, even after 3 years, all my course material is still available and recently, I found myself going through them to refresh my ideas and techniques. For me, it was definitely a worthwhile investment, and I would strongly recommend PWA’s Crime Writing courses to anyone serious about writing in this genre.

I am currently a third of the way into book two of ‘The D.I. and the Assassin’ series featuring Cathy and Mick, and I’m excited to find out what they get up to.

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Meet your Guest author

Jay Jones

Winner of the international 2022 Page Turner Crime Genre Award, Jay’s favourite hobbies are reading and writing.

But spreadsheets rather than words dominated her working career, and Jay didn’t realise how much she’d missed writing until she took it up again a few years ago.

Jay now lives in Worcester with her husband and a very pampered cat.

More about Jay Jones

Writing Crime Fiction

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