I live in Dubai and write The Isaac Alvarez Mysteries under the pen name M Lynes. I’ve self-published two books in the series and have just begun work on the third, to be published in early 2023. Being an author can be a solitary existence so having a network of writers to engage with is very important. I’ve been very fortunate to be part of a like-minded group that meet up every week via Zoom. They’re based in England and Scotland.
I wanted to connect with other crime writers based in the region I call home: The Middle East. I thought it would be interesting to find out whether writers based in the region have different perspectives on the crime writing genre. I’ve recently become a member of the Crime Writers’ Association. The CWA was founded in the UK in 1953 to provide a social network for writers and help them with business matters. Membership is open to anyone who has published a full length work of crime fiction or non-fiction. This includes self-published books, as long as you meet a strict set of qualifying criteria to ensure your work is of a professional standard. If you are an author based outside the UK you are equally welcome. Benefits include opportunities to market your books, an annual conference, and a monthly newsletter.
The association is probably most famous for its annual awards, known as the ‘Daggers’. This year's winners included Ray Celestin, MW Craven and Janice Hallett. John le Carre, Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham and Ruth Rendell have all been past winners. If your book is published in the UK you can enter.
The CWA has international chapters but not one based in this region. I suggested that we set up ‘The Gulf Chapter’ and I’m delighted to take on the role of convenor. I’m looking forward to the first member of the CWA based in Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar or the UAE contacting me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. To join the Gulf Chapter you have to be a member of the CWA which costs around 300 AED a year.
There are no membership fees for joining the Gulf Chapter. I hope we can start virtual meetings soon and meet monthly over the coming year. A highlight of my year in the UAE is attending the Emirates LitFest. I started going five years ago as a reader and was thrilled to be invited in 2021 to launch my first book, Blood Libel. I’ve been asked to run a session in 2023 and it would be great to meet some fellow CWA members in Dubai from 1st to 6th of February. The theme is ‘Old Friends’. I’m sure there will be a good lineup of authors. I look forward to seeing you there.
Michael Lynes writes historical fiction under the pen name ‘M Lynes’. You can sign up for his newsletter and receive a free short story at www.michaellynes.com. You can connect with him on Twitter and by email. One of his books - Blood Libel won a prize at the 2020 Emirates Literature Festival and it can be purchased from Amazon US and Amazon UK.