Some are outrageously young; others are a little more seasoned. Some of their stories are inspired by real life; others are spun from a spark of curiosity or a figment of the imagination. Their characters hail from Brooklyn to St. Petersburg to central Illinois; from England’s Lake District to a futuristic Britain gone horribly awry. What these authors share in common are their ovation-worthy debuts—and a supporting cast that read their manuscripts and said, “Bravo.” Another common thread woven through the backstories of these promising first novels: an editor who said, “I dropped everything,” or “I read it in one sitting” and hopes that soon, so will you.

First Fiction 2013: Ripped from The Headlines - Paula Daly

“This book came about directly from an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show,” says Paula Daly, author of Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

First Fiction 2013: Literary Hat Trick - J.M. Sidorova

Moscow native J.M. Sidorova adhered to a time-honored routine while working on The Age of Ice: “Research, research, research—write. Repeat.”

First Fiction 2013: Testing the Ties that Bind - Emma Chapman

St. Martin’s Press executive editor Jennifer Weis first got the manuscript for How to Be a Good Wife from a colleague attending the Frankfurt Book Fair.

First Fiction 2013: The Intersection Of Science and Love - Graeme Simsion

Don Tillman, a professor of genetics, believes a 16-page questionnaire will help him find the perfect partner—or at least the second date he’s never had. Then he meets the unlikeliest of candidates: Rosie, who is on a quest to find her biological father.

First Fiction 2013: A Landlord Knows All - Amy Grace Loyd

For years, Amy Grace Loyd worked on The Affairs of Others on weekends and on the subway to and from work—which might be why New York City feels like a flesh-and-blood character in her story.

First Fiction 2013: A Thriller for The Modern Age - Drew Chapman

Within paragraphs of meeting 26-year-old bond trader Garrett Reilly, readers will know that The Ascendant is not their parents’ thriller.

First Fiction 2013: A Natural Storyteller - Abby Geni

Abby Geni’s credentials are impressive enough to catch any editor’s eye: graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, winner of the Glimmer Train Fiction Open, and was listed in 2010 Best American Short Stories—and her work comes with a raving endorsement from Dan Chaon.

First Fiction 2013: Welcome To the Future - Samantha Shannon

One can only imagine how daunting it would be to embark on the writing of a seven-part series, especially one set in the secret cell of a criminal underworld in the year 2059.

First Fiction 2013: In Cold Blood - Hannah Kent

Hannah Kent was a 17-year-old exchange student in Iceland when she first heard the story of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last person to be executed in that country before the death penalty was abolished in 1928.

First Fiction 2013: American Gothic - Ryan Bartelmay

“It took me every ounce of 10 years to write this book,” says Ryan Bartelmay, author of Onward Toward What We’re Going Toward.