Cressida Downing wins prize for debut crime fiction from the North East
The inaugural Lindisfarne Prize for Debut Crime Fiction has gone to Cressida Downing, for The Roll Bearer's Daughter. She receives £2,500 to support the completion of the novel, as well as mentoring from Cheshire Cat Books.
Crime writer LJ Ross set up the prize to reward new writing with a North East setting, or by writers from the region. Ross and the Lord Mayor of Newcastle announced Downing as the winner at a ceremony at the Newcastle Noir crime festival.
Downing, a freelance editor and former bookseller, said: "Until recently I didn't have any urge to write myself but a chance visit to Lindisfarne sparked an idea. My novel is a murder mystery set in 15th- century Lindisfarne Priory. My protagonist is a female scribe who is running from her past and confronting danger in her present.
"I've been sitting on the idea for about two years thinking I'd start writing it 'some time' and the Lindisfarne Prize gave me the impetus to get going with a concrete deadline. I am so grateful to LJ Ross and the other prize organisers for getting me off the ground and winning it is just amazing! The practical and emotional help offered is so valuable."
Ross, author of the DCI Ryan series, said: "It was tough to narrow down entries into a shortlist and then to choose a final winner, but Cressida's work stood out because of the originality of her plot, her characters, and unique narrative voice. Having read the first chapters submitted for her entry, I genuinely can't wait to find out what happens next. While it wasn't part of the decision-making process, it's also lovely that the work which won was set on Lindisfarne where I set my own first novel."
Also shortlisted were Frank Hutton for Winter's Gibbet; Keith Dickinson for Miss Bloom's Final Summation; and Harry Wright, writing as Wes T Mead, for Evens, Evens, Evens.
Photo: Cressida Downing (left) and LJ Ross