In its fourth year in 2016, the New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing attracted a strong field of entries from all over Australia, by writers both published and unpublished.
Fiction was once again particularly well-represented, with the winner of the Fiction category also picking up the Emerging Authors Award.
Poetry and Non-Fiction also fared well across award categories, with the winner in the Youth Award winning with a poem, and the New England Award winner, and Highly Commended entry, being from the Non Fiction category.
The winners of the 2016 New England Thunderbolt Prize are as follows:
Fiction: Maryanne Ross
Maryanne has a science degree, studied Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT and has completed many writing and editing short courses. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers Australia, Writers Victoria and Ballarat Writers. She works in Media and Communications for Parks Victoria.
Maryanne wrote Secrets for her sister, Bernadette, who has been the licencee of a small rural pub for many years.
Marryanne also won Emerging Author Award, for Secrets.
Of her double win, Maryanne congratulated the New England Writers’ Centre and sponsors for their great work in supporting authors.
“I am incredibly delighted to win this prestigious crime writing prize, and feel galvanised into working harder and with greater focus.
“I want to encourage all the other new and emerging writers out there to keep trying to improve, to set even small targets and to take the leap – to put your stories out there. As Nemo says, ‘Just keep swimming’.”
Non-Fiction: Maryrose Cuskelly
Maryrose Cuskelly is a Melbourne writer and editor. She is the author of Original Skin: Exploring the marvels of the human hide and The End of Charity co-written with Nic Frances, and winner of the Iremonger Award for Writing on Public Issues.
'Well before dark', about the disappearance and murder of Marilyn Wallman in 1972, is her first foray into true crime.
Maryrose is currently working on another true crime story, this time a longer work about a triple murder that occurred in country Victoria in 2014.
Poetry: Ian Hood
Ian Hood is an artist has spent a large part of his adult life travelling the world.
While in Australia he worked at diverse jobs, including fishing and welfare work.
His journals have been the inspiration for several award winning stories.
This poem, Drowning Satan, is drawn from a journal he kept when he was employed on fishing boats around the NSW South Coast.
The setting is authentic; the criminal aspect is fictional.
Youth Award: Stella Carolan
Twelve-year-old Stella Carolan lives on a farm with her two brothers and her parents and she loves to read and write.
She won the Youth Award for Take A Tablet.
She attends Burren Junction Public School, where she is in year 6 and enjoys to swim and play most other sports.
“I’ve always liked writing poems and stories, (especially ones with a twist). Some of my poetry has been performed at the Narrabri Eisteddfod by myself and others,” Stella said. “I have also wrote a novel this year called ‘Eighteen’.”
New England Award: William Bennett
William Bennett was born and educated in Brisbane and came to Armidale from Lismore, where he had been researching cattle ticks.
He has lived in Armidale for more than 35 years and is now retired.
William said he contributed a story on cattle ticks to a college magazine, and found he enjoyed writing.
He won a prize for a 1400-word story called The Too Hard Basket of St Francis.
William has a degree in marine biology from UNE and has tutored in genetics and biology at UNE for about ten years - hence the knowledge of Mendel.
His winning story, That Man Mendel, is 1700 words and William said his longest work was 2900 words, called Poisoning of Napoleon.