New crime author scoops top prize in Harrogate

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award winner Sarah Hilary with title sponsor Simon Theakston.

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award winner Sarah Hilary with title sponsor Simon Theakston.

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An author who had never previously written a crime novel has won this year’s Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award in Harrogate.

Having written her first book aged 10, Bath-based writer Sarah Hilary, 48, finally moved into the crime thriller genre for the first time with Someone Else’s Skin.

Hilary was presented with the award by title sponsor Simon Theakston and broadcaster Mark Lawson at the opening night of the annual Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate.

The world’s biggest celebration of the genre and elebrating its 11th year, the award is considered one of the most coveted crime writing prizes in the country.

Hilary said: “To win this award for my debut crime novel is simply amazing. I’d like to thank my publishers, Headline, my editor Vicki Mellor, and of course my stupendous agent Jane Gregory. This is my fourth year at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, I didn’t think it could get any better, but it just did.”

A disturbing debut crime thriller about domestic violence written on a laptop in a coffee shop, Someone Else’s Skin is superbly disturbing, twisty and tricksy.

Hilary had to beat off stiff competition from the shortlist of six, whittled down from a longlist of 18 titles published by British and Irish authors over the last year.

The 2015 Award was run in partnership with T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith, and The Radio Times.

Hilary collected a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade oak cask provided by Theakstons Old Peculier.

Simon Theakston, Executive Director of T&R Theakston, said:

“It was a very tough decision as it is every year as all the books on the shortlist were outstanding but I’m delighted to hand the trophy to Sarah.”

A special presentation was made at the same event to creator of VI Warshawski, Sara Paretsky, the winner of the sixth Theakstons Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.

Sara said: “This is such a prestigious award, not least because of the previous winners in whose footsteps I follow - PD James, Ruth Rendell, Reginald Hill and Colin Dexter. It’s amazing to be the first American to infiltrate this list.

“I am so delighted to be here at Harrogate. To be part of the festival has long been one of my goals…and what an honour to receive this award – I am both touched and excited to receive it.”

During the ceremony, the 2015 Festival, Programming Chair Ann Cleeves and author Val McDermid paid tribute to PD James and Ruth Rendell, who received the Outstanding Contribution awards in 2011 and 2013 respectively.

The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award shortlist in full:

The Facts Of Life And Death, Belinda Bauer, Transworld

The Axeman’s Jazz, Ray Celestin, Mantle/ Pan Macmillan

The Outcast Dead, Elly Griffiths, Quercus

Someone Else’s Skin, Sarah Hilary, Headline

The Devil in the Marshalsea, Antonia Hodgson, Hodder & Stoughton

Entry Island, Peter May, Quercus