Third year Creative Writing student Lucy Greer has had a story accepted by Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine – the world’s top mystery magazine – and secured a deal with leading agent Jane Gregory for her first novel.
Since being established in 1941, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine has premiered more than 700 young writers and given a start to many of mystery and suspense fiction's top writers such as Nancy Pickard, Harry Kemelman, and Jack Finney while also featuring the work of 40 Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners.
Lucy, 21, from Norwich, initially wrote Six Hours as her final assignment for her BA Creative Writing. Six Hours is based around ex-con John who wakes up in a police cell with no recollection of how he got there. When he is then questioned about a crime fitting his Modus Operandi, he finds himself in a race against time to prove his innocence.
Feedback from the University’s Royal Literary Fellow Martyn Waites, an experienced crime novelist, was really positive and then Martyn offered to speak to his agent Jane Gregory, who co-founded the Orange Prize for Fiction and runs London-based Gregory and Company.
“Martyn really liked it and when it was finished he asked if it was okay if he sent it to his agent.” Lucy said. “She liked it so she sent it on to the magazine. I didn’t hear anything from Ellery Queen for quite a while, but eventually they got back to the agent saying that they’d like to buy my work.”
So what about the future? Lucy wants to make a career out of crime fiction writing and has had an ideal start to her plans. “Gregory and Company, have asked me to sign with them and they are waiting for a novel from me when I finish at Essex in the summer. So the next step is my first novel, and then – who knows? I plan to continue writing crime fiction novels. That’s genuinely as far as I’ve gotten with a future plan.”
Jane said: “Martyn has an extremely good eye so when he asked if we would read Six Hours my response was immediate. Lucy has an original voice and we really are looking forward to reading her first novel.”
Lucy said she has gained a huge amount from her time at Essex and confidence to develop her own approach. “I’ve loved my course at Essex. It’s certainly been hard work, but I’ve had some fantastic teachers, as well as meeting some amazing writers, and fantastic people in general.
“The Creative Writing degree has helped with my writing immensely. The main thing my teachers have helped with is - as cheesy as it sounds - encouraging me to write what I want to write, not just what I’m expected to.”
The Royal Literary Fund Fellowship scheme places professional writers in universities to offer writing support to students from all subjects. The aim is to foster good writing practice across all disciplines and media through one-to-one coaching, group work or seminars.
Martyn Waites was one of the University’s Royal Literary Fellows from 2011 to 2012. Find out more on his website at: www.martynwaites.com/
The University’s current Royal Literary Fellows are Jim Kelly and Gillian Richmond. Find out more here: www.essex.ac.uk/lifts/news_and_seminars/newsEvent.aspx?e_id=4620