Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense

The Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense is named for Daphne du Maurier, the author of Rebecca, a suspense novel with romantic and gothic overtones and a precursor to today's romantic suspense. The Daphne is a writing contest for published and unpublished authors of romantic suspense, mystery, suspense, and thrillers with romantic subplots and mainstream mystery, suspense and thrillers.

The contest provides helpful feedback by trained judges, and winning or placing in the competition adds a boost to the entrant's writing career. There are two divisions within the contest: Published and Unpublished. Entries are received January 15th - March 15th each year. Finalists for each division are announced in May [Unpublished] and June [Published]. Winners are announced at the RWA® National Conference in July.

The entry period for the 2018 Daphne Contest is :
January 15, 2018 to March 15, 2018

****Special Notice**** 

  • Mainstream Published Category is capped and closed and is no longer accepting entries for this year.
  • Mainstream Unpublished is still open for entries!
  • All other categories for both Published and Unpublished are still open and waiting for your entries!
  • Email the Daphne Contest Chairperson if you have questions.


  • Category (Series) romantic mystery/suspense: any manuscript that fits into series romance similar to those stories found in the Harlequin Intrigue or Harlequin Romantic Suspense lines.

  • Historical romantic mystery/suspense: any manuscript set in a time that predates the end of World War II.

  • Inspirational romantic mystery/suspense: any manuscript in which religious or spiritual beliefs form a significant part of the story.

  • Mainstream mystery/suspense: any manuscript where the mystery/suspense is the main plot.  (Mainstream Published Category is capped and closed - no longer accepting entries for this year. Mainstream Unpublished Category is still open! Continue submitting for Unpublished.)

  • Paranormal (PTTF) romantic mystery/suspense: any manuscript in which paranormal elements play a significant role.

  • Single Title romantic mystery/suspense: any manuscript where the romance is the main plot but which contains elements of mystery/suspense. 

Division Specific

 Unpublished Division

 Sample Score Sheets

 Published Division

 Previous Winners and Finalists


For questions, please contact the Daphne Contest Chairman here.


Tread Lightly

Tread lightly...But know that while we are all working together here, the conversation can turn quickly to death, destruction and mayhem. And we are fine with that. We'll even abet you as you work to do the same, to become the best spinner of romantic mysteries and thrillers that you can be. So come on in, the water's warm...as blood.