AN AUTHOR from Coventry is on the rise to literary stardom after winning Richard and Judy’s ‘Search for a Bestseller’ competition.
Caz Frear beat off tough competition with her novel Sweet Little Lies, landing herself a £50,000 book deal and a guaranteed place on the shelves in WHSmith stores across the country.
Sweet Little Lies is a crime thriller set in London and Ireland. The book’s protagonist, detective Cat Kinsella, is forced to address difficult questions about her family’s past – specifically, her father’s involvement with a young girl’s disappearance.
Caz, a former Bishop Ullathorne pupil and Coventry University graduate, had always dreamed of being an author, and describes writing often as a teenager.
“I wrote as a child and a teenager a lot, I was constantly writing stories. I used to do extra English homework, if I went to a gig I’d write a review and hand that in to my English teacher.”
But real life — and a move to London — meant writing was put on the back-burner, while Caz embarked on a career as a professional headhunter.
It wasn’t until she was faced with an unexpected few months off work that she decided to pick up the pen again.
With the bug for writing well and truly re-established, Caz applied for a prestigious creative writing course with literary agents Curtis Brown, and was swiftly accepted.
“It was a really early version of Sweet Little Lies. I’d sort of already written it, but I polished it to within an inch of my life, and I sent it off, and about four or five days after I got the word that I’d been accepted.”
Encouraged by tutors, peers and the quiet interest of literary agents, Caz decided she wanted to pursue writing seriously.
A move back to the Midlands, and a well-timed work sabbatical, gave her the freedom to put all her energy into her work, and finish what she’d started.
“Lots of people who knew I was writing kept saying ‘Have you seen this Richard and Judy ‘Search for a Bestseller’ competition?’ and telling me to enter” she explains.
“I thought I might as well.”
Caz submitted an impressive 12,000 word draft at the end of May last year, and got the call to say she’d been shortlisted at the end of June.
While the news was understandably exciting, it also meant Caz had to turn 12,000 words into a finished novel in a matter of months.
She submitted the full version of Sweet Little Lies mid-December 2016, and found out she was the winner just six weeks later, at the end of January this year.
“I got a call from Richard himself”, she explains. “He’s great, absolutely bonkers, but great.
“I think they (Richard and wife Judy) are up this way quite a lot, so he was telling me all about his favourite pubs in the area!”
What followed was a whirlwind of behind the scenes action, including final edits, book cover designs, and choosing a title.
By July this year, the book was on the shelves, available to buy.
“It was just the quickest, craziest turnaround” she admits.
And it looks like this is just the beginning for our Coventry girl.
Sweet Little Lies is going global, with the rights having recently been sold to Harper Collins in the USA. There’s also talks of a TV adaptation, and Caz has already signed the dotted line for two more books in the Cat Kinsella series.
But despite her success, Caz plans on calling Coventry home for a while.
“It’s so nice being back, near my mum and dad, where I grew up. I feel properly rooted in Coventry, so will definitely be sticking around.”