7 Debut Female Novelists To Watch In 2023

Happy Women’s History Month! Let’s celebrate literary history in the making with these 7 debut female novelists and their new releases making a splash in 2023.

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debut female novelists 2023

Women’s History Month is all about celebrating the amazing achievements of women from the past and present. Today, we’re focusing on the latter, rounding up seven female novelists making their debut this year. From highly-anticipated thrillers to spellbinding speculative fiction, these female writers are dominating the literary scene with their innovative, creative page-turners. Let’s learn a little more about these inspiring debut authors and their books!

1. Julia Bartz

Julia Bartz is a practicing therapist and writer based out of Brooklyn, New York. Her fiction has been published in the likes of Instyle Magazine and The South Dakota Review. In addition to being a trained yoga instructor, Julia authors the popular Psychology Today blog “My Pleasure.”

Creativity meets claustrophobia in Bartz’s suspenseful debut novel about an exclusive writing retreat gone wrong. With a seven-figure book deal hanging in the balance, the aspiring writers at Blackbriar Estate are in for one wild, unhinged, supernatural ride. Long story short, The Writing Retreat is a must-read new release for all thriller lovers.

2. Heather Darwent

Heather Darwent was raised in Yorkshire and attended the University of Edinburgh. She currently resides just outside of Edinburgh by the sea. Her debut novel The Things We Do to Our Friends follows Clare, who arrives in Scotland flying solo and eager to reinvent herself. However, her solitary existence is quickly altered when she meets Tabitha in art history class. She’s stunning, outgoing, charismatic, and incredibly wealthy. Above all, she has an exclusive circle of friends that Clare is inaugurated into.

Perfect for fans of The Secret History and dark academia, this seductively suspenseful read is a brilliant examination of obsession and codependency, secrets, and revenge.

3. Maria Dong

An established creative writer, Maria Dong’s short fiction, poetry, and essays have been featured in countless publications including the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, Augur Magazine, and Lightspeed. She currently resides in Michigan with her partner and works as computer programmer.

Dong’s innovative storytelling style shines in her suspenseful debut Liar, Dreamer, Thief, which bewitchingly blurs right and wrong, reality and fantasy. Without a doubt, this surreal tale is a unique and powerful debut sure to entrance, thrill, and unsettle readers.

4. Chikodili Emelumadu

Chikodili Emelumadu is a British and Nigerian writer specializing in speculative fiction. Her short story works have been shortlisted for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Caine Prize in African Writing. This year, Emelumadu continues to dazzle (pun intended) with her debut novel about two young girls grappling with family legacy.

Rich in Nigerian mythology and treading into the sphere of magical realism, Dazzling is a deeply immersive, feminist read about heritage, girlhood, and justice. With a strong narrative and vivid prose, this new release is sure to keep you entranced from start to finish.

5. Jacqueline Holland

Holland holds an MFA from the University of Kansas, and her fiction can be found in a variety of literary journals including Hotel Amerika and Big Fiction Magazine. Her debut novel, The God of Endings, is a suspenseful saga told from the eyes of one immortal woman named Collette LeSange.

Providing a truly masterful spin on the vampire trope, Holland’s first novel interweaves history and myth for a story of epic scope that examines the complexity of the human condition. Holland’s meditative prose and her eternal protagonist make for a standout storytelling adventure about the fundamental questions of what makes life worth living.

6. Yume Kitasei

Yume Kitasei is a speculative fiction writer and Princeton graduate based in Brooklyn. Her stories have been featured in publications like New England Review and Catapult. Her first novel, The Deep Sky, is a stunning sci-fi thriller about a space mission gone sideways after a lethal explosion kills three crew members.

With the fate of humanity hanging in the balance, the inner politics, suspicion, and tumult between the crew may spell disaster before they arrive at their deep space destination. If you want a clever mystery plot set in the stars, check out Kitasei’s out of this world debut.

7. Cecile Pin

Cecile Pin hails from NYC and Paris. She studied philosophy at University College London and holds an MA from King’s College London. In 2021, she was a London Writers Award winner for literary fiction.

Wandering Souls, her debut novel, is partly inspired by her mother’s story — losing most of her family while immigrating to France. As a profound exploration of family history, legacy, and tragedy, Pin’s storytelling is heartfelt and masterful, cementing her as one of this year’s most impactful young authors to watch.

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