Richard Gropp of Issaquah, Washington, is the grand prize winner of the Unbound Worlds Writing Contest, which received just under 700 qualifying manuscripts. Gropp will receive a full edit of his manuscript from Betsy Mitchell, Editor in Chief of Del Rey, plus a selection of Del Rey and Spectra titles.
The winning submission is titled Bad Glass. Richard Gropp told Unbound Worlds he’d been working on it for three years when the contest came along. It’s his second finished manuscript; the first one—a cyberpunk detective novel—he was unable to sell and decided to write another story “out of passion” rather than try to write to the market. The result was Bad Glass, about a young photographer who travels to the barricaded city of Spokane, Washington, in hopes of gaining attention for his work by photographing the bizarre incidents occurring there. No one knows why people seem to vanish from the city, or why some eyewitnesses report strange manifestations while other onlookers see nothing. “Part of the reason we chose Bad Glass is that it has a creepiness factor to it that Richard handles very well,” said Betsy Mitchell, Editor in Chief of Del Rey, who will edit the manuscript. “There are scenes in the manuscript that will stick in my memory for a long time.”
What does the title Bad Glass refer to? Says Gropp: “In photography, the term ‘good glass’ is a term used to describe high-quality camera lenses. Through those lenses, everything appears clear and bright, without flaw or distortion. Bad glass would be … well, not good glass.” Gropp recently made his first sale, a short story which will be published in Daily Science Fiction. A former bookstore clerk, he now writes fulltime.
The three runners-up, who will each receive $250 worth of Del Rey/Spectra books, are:
Timothy J. McFadden of Canton, Ohio, whose Forge Valley is about a group of adventurers who travel back in time to assist George Washington’s Continental Army; Marian Crane of Phoenix, Arizona, whose science fiction novel Blackfire features strong worldbuilding and a fascinating alien race; and Reyna Thera Lorele of Nashville, Tennessee, whose sociological science fiction novel Holder’s Clay is about two peoples who once shared a common ancestry yet have become so ideologically separate that they see each other almost as aliens.