Crime Writers' Association
The Crime Writers' Association (CWA) is a specialist authors’ group in the United Kingdom, most notable for its Gold Dagger award for the best crime novel of the year. The Association also promotes the crime fiction genre by publicising literary festivals and other writing events, establishing links with libraries, booksellers and other writer organisations, both in the UK such as the Society of Authors, and overseas, and enabling members to network at its annual conference and through its regional chapters as well as through dedicated social media channels and private website. Members' events and general news items are published on the CWA website which also features Find An Author where CWA members are listed and information provided about themselves, their books and their awards.
|Linda Stratmann, Jean Briggs, Dea Parkin, Sarah Ward|
The CWA publishes a monthly magazine exclusively for members called Red Herrings, edited by David Stuart Davies since 2000.
The CWA runs a sister organisation aimed at readers of crime fiction and non-fiction called the Crime Reader's Association; website www.thecra.co.uk. Anyone can join free of charge and receive two digital magazines: the bimonthly Case Files and the monthly CRA Newsletter.
Terms of membership
Annual membership is open to any author who has had a crime novel published via a traditional publishing contract (or at the discretion of the committee), with associate and corporate membership also offered to individuals and organisations in the publishing industry such as editors, bloggers, literary agents and publishers. Provisional membership is also offered to authors who have a contract with a publisher but whose book is not yet published. The CWA enables writers to contact each other, promotes crime writing with annual awards, and organises social events. It also supports writing groups, festivals and literary events through its authors. The main aims of the CWA are to promote the crime genre and to support professional writers. The CWA has been providing social and professional support for its members for more than half a century, as well as running the prestigious Dagger Awards.
In May every year, the CWA actively promotes National Crime Reading Month.
The CWA was founded by John Creasey in 1953. It is chaired by Linda Stratmann (from April 2019) and has over 800 members. The Secretary of the Crime Writers' Association is currently Dea Parkin, who also runs editorial consultancy Fiction Feedback. The day-to-day management of the organisation is by CJAM of Colchester and the CWA's official accountants and registered CWA address are at H W Fisher in William Road, London.
CWA Archives are held at Gladstone's Library in Hawarden, N Wales. Archivist is Martin Edwards, who was CWA Chair from January 2017 to April 2019 - the longest-serving CWA chair since John Creasey.
The Crime Writers’ Association Daggers awards were started in 1955, less than two years after the association was founded, with the award of a Crossed Red Herring Award to Winston Graham for The Little Walls.
Over the years the number of CWA Daggers has increased. Ten Daggers are now awarded annually by the CWA, with Red Herring awards made for those who have made a significant contribution to the CWA or crime writing. The Dagger longlists are traditionally announced at the international literary convention CrimeFest in Bristol in May, the shortlists at a London event in the summer and the winners at a glittering Dagger awards dinner usually held in the second half of October in London.
- The CWA Gold Dagger, This award is for the best crime novel by an author of any nationality, originally written in English and first published in the UK. The broadest definition of the crime novel defines eligible books including thrillers, suspense novels and spy fiction.
- The CWA International Dagger This award is for crime novels (defined by the broadest definition including thrillers, suspense novels and spy fiction) as long as the book was not originally written in English and has been translated into English for UK publication.
- The CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger: This award is for the best thriller novel first published in the UK. The broadest definition of the thriller novel is used for eligible books; these can be set in any period and include, but are not limited to, spy fiction, action/adventure stories and psychological thrillers. Ian Fleming said there was one essential criterion for a good thriller – that ‘one simply has to turn the page’; this is one of the main characteristics that the judges will be looking for. Sponsored by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd.
- The CWA ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction: This award is for any non-fiction work on a crime-related theme by an author of any nationality, on condition that the book was first published in the UK in English. Sponsored by ALCS from 2018.
- The CWA John Creasey (New Blood Dagger): Awarded in memory of CWA founder John Creasey, This award is for the best crime novel by a first-time author of any nationality first published in the UK in English. This award used to be known as the John Creasey Memorial Dagger.
- The CWA Dagger in the Library: This Dagger is awarded to "the author of crime fiction whose work is currently giving the greatest enjoyment to readers"; authors are nominated by UK libraries and judged by a panel of librarians.
- The CWA Sapere Books Historical Dagger: This award is for the best historical crime fiction novel, first published in the UK in English, set in any period up to 50 years prior to the year in which the award will be made. Previously known as the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, awarded to historical mysteries since 1999. From 2019 this award has been sponsored by Sapere Books.
- The CWA Short Story Dagger: This award is for any crime short story first published in the UK in English in a publication that pays for contributions, or broadcast in the UK in return for payment or e-stories from recognised publishers that pay for contributions.
- The Debut Dagger: a competition for the opening of a crime novel (3000 words plus synopsis) running from autumn to 28 February every year and open to anyone who has not yet had a novel traditionally published. Shortlisted entries are shown to interested literary agents and publishers.
- CWA Diamond Dagger: an award for lifetime achievement, with nominations submitted by CWA members and voted on by the committee.
The CWA has produced many collections of crime writing (mainly fiction, but occasionally true crime). The editor of the CWA anthology since 1996 has been Martin Edwards. In 2003, he edited a special collection, Mysterious Pleasures, to celebrate the CWA's Golden Jubilee. Original Sins is the 2010 anthology of crime from a distinguished selection of British writers published by Severn House. In 2013 the CWA Anthology 'Deadly Pleasures' was published and in 2015 an anthology of True Crime stories was released. The latest anthology, Mystery Tour was published in December 2018.