When we launched The Big Issue crime writing competition in search of Britain’s next Agatha Christie or Ian Rankin back in March, little did we expect the overwhelming response you gave us. Hundreds of manuscripts were submitted, and the quality was outstanding.
Entries were read blind, with the judges not even knowing the author’s name. But now, after months of marvelling at endless skill and ingenuity, we are delighted to reveal the winner of a two-book deal with Avon, which is part of the prestigious HarperCollins publishing house.
Louise Sharland came out on top with her debut novel, currently titled Vigil, a psychological mystery about loss and revengein which a grieving mother becomes convinced the death of her teenage son was not an accident.
To say I am thrilled would be a ridiculous understatement
Sharland, who completed an MA in Crime Writing at the University of East Anglia, says: “To say I am thrilled to be receiving this prize would be a ridiculous understatement. I’m delighted not just because of all the hard work and commitment I’ve put into to my writing, but also because of my deep connection to the work of The Big Issue. From 2015 to 2018 I was employed as a work and learning coach for Crisis UK, based at a homeless charity in Plymouth. I worked with a wide range of vulnerable adults with multiple/complex needs centred around homelessness, addiction, criminality and mental health issues.”
Jane Graham, books editor of The Big Issue, says narrowing down the entries to a shortlist and eventual winner was a tough case to crack.
“The panel have been so impressed with the calibre of entries, and the diversity in approaches to crime fiction,” she says. “Shortlisting was a difficult task but I’m so pleased that we’ve uncovered this wealth of new talent in the UK. And it was great to be introduced to lots of intriguing new characters, from no-nonsense nosey spinsters to memory-haunted old cops.