Five talented writers who have been shortlisted for the Lindisfarne Prize for Crime Fiction were revealed today. Robert Meddes, Sarah Jeffery, Alan Sendall, Karys Frank and Sarah Williams are all up for the prestigious literary prize, which celebrates the outstanding crime and thriller storytelling of those who are from, or whose work celebrates, the North East of England.
The submissions will be judged by the prize’s esteemed panel of judges, comprising: Founder of Newcastle Noir crime fiction festival Dr Jacky Collins, bestselling Newcastle-based crime writer Trevor Wood, BBC Look North presenter Carol Malia and the international bestselling author and founder of the prize, LJ Ross.
The winner of the prize will be announced on 6 September and will receive a cash prize to support the completion of their work, alongside funding for membership of the Society of Authors (SoA) and the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).
Now in its fifth year, the Lindisfarne Prize for Crime Fiction was founded by author LJ Ross and is sponsored by her publishing imprint Dark Skies Publishing. The aim of the prize is not only to provide financial support, but to help build and maintain creative confidence for new, emerging and established writers in the crime and thriller genre.
LJ Ross, author and founder of the Lindisfarne Prize for Crime Fiction, said: “As we reach this significant milestone of the fifth year of the Lindisfarne Prize for Crime Fiction, I couldn't be prouder of how far the award has come. What started as a humble endeavour has now evolved into a prestigious literary prize, celebrating exceptional storytelling from this vibrant region while helping to nurture and uplift writers, providing them with the resources and encouragement they need to succeed. Over the years, we have witnessed the emergence of new voices, the growth of established authors, and the enrichment of the literary landscape as a whole. The entries this year were outstanding and I wish them all the best of luck. We hope the prize continues to discover more bright talents in the years to come.”
Robert Meddes, from Newcastle, for his submission, Those Men, Those Faces, which follows the story of Austin, a man who routinely cheats on his wife and soon discovers a whole new world of sexual adventure when he signs up with a clandestine dating agency. He’s always been curious about men so hooks up with Irving, who seems to be a perfect fit, but it turns out he’s not the man Austin thinks he is.
Robert is no stranger to writing as the editor of Crack Magazine but says writing fiction was like learning a new language. He said: “In short, writing fiction is hard, and while I was struggling with my first novel, the little devil on my shoulder was forever pleading with me to chuck the whole thing onto the fire. Being shortlisted for the Lindisfarne Prize, however, has given me an unimaginable lift and helped banish that devil from my shoulder. It’s also made me more determined than ever to get my story out there.”
Sarah Jeffery from Newcastle for her submission The Perfect Alibi, which follows the story of celebrity influencer, Sadie, and professional burglar, Lola, who bear a striking resemblance. Their past is catching up with them and they need to escape so when their lives collide, they plan to steal each other’s identity and frame each other for murder.
Sarah is a former journalist now working in public relations. She said: “The Perfect Alibi is about society’s obsession with celebrities and explores what social media is doing to our sense of identity and real-life relationships. It was a lovely surprise to find out I’d made the shortlist, as it proves that perseverance pays off after abandoning several novels to start my current work in progress.”
Alan Sendall, from Whitley Bay, for his submission Double Infidelity, which follows the story of Polly, who must fight to prove her innocence when a walk on the beach turns into being charged with murder.
Alan is a self-published author, whose works are often inspired by or written during his travels abroad. From his adventures in East Africa as a safari driver, boat builder, marine engineer, and IT consultant to sailing around the world on his self-made yacht, Alan draws on instances from his life to develop the narratives for his crime novels.
Alan said: “It was during a second sailing adventure in 2010/2013 that I began to take writing seriously. Because of my unorthodox life, people had encouraged me to write a memoir, and so while sailing single-handed from Europe to New Zealand, I did. While reading through the first draft, I identified a couple of instances from my life that if expanded upon, and fictionalised, could make a decent crime novel. It’s the first writing contest I have entered, and to be shortlisted gives me a much-needed boost in confidence.”
Karys Frank from Penrith in Cumbria for her submission Stone Cold Truth, a story about a daughter who flees her mother’s suffocating love, only to run into her mother’s net from which she can’t escape.
Karys writes fiction for stage and screen. Her stage work has been seen at the National Theatre Studio, Liverpool Everyman and Southwark Playhouse. Her work is inspired by all the places she has lived, including many addresses in and around Newcastle.
Karys said: “I’m thrilled that my story has been recognised for this prestigious prize. It came about by magnifying characteristics I find in myself, both as a daughter and a mother. I’m so glad this story’s struck a note and hope that readers, especially daughter and mothers, might see atoms of themselves in it while walking that unclear line between love and overprotection.”
Sarah Williams, from Melsonby, North Yorkshire, for her submission Vacancy for Murder, which follows the story of Blythe Bainbridge and her daughter, who have inherited a dilapidated B&B in rural Northumberland. Within days, they find themselves embroiled in a murder mystery, and find that the B&B may have not always been used for the most hospitable of purposes.
Sarah Williams studied dentistry in Newcastle upon Tyne and now resides in North Yorkshire, where she spends half of her week treating dental patients and the other half writing books.
Sarah said: “While dentistry isn’t the typical background for a writer, I find that working with a lot of diverse and varied people is rich inspiration for understanding how people think and behave - even seemingly ordinary people have a story to tell. I was delighted to find out that I had been shortlisted for this award, particularly as I’m new to writing in this genre.”