Laxfield Literary Associates has announced the winners of its inaugural New Anglia Manuscript Prize and the Laxfield Literary Launch Prize.
The new Suffolk-based agency, founded by Emma Shercliff and run in association with the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency, announced the creation of the prizes when it launched last October. Both winners will be awarded £500 and representation from Laxfield Literary Associates.
Lucy Dixon from Lowestoft, Suffolk, and a graduate of the University of East Anglia’s Creative Writing Crime Fiction MA, has won the New Anglia Manuscript Prize for her unpublished debut novel Choked, which is set on the Norfolk and Suffolk coast.
Sponsored by the National Centre for Writing in Norwich, the New Anglia Manuscript Prize recognises the best new debut novel from an unpublished author from Suffolk and Norfolk. Also shortlisted were Adam Leeder for his Ipswich-based crime novel Diaspora, and Julie Holden for her novel Spilt Milk.
Prize judge Chris Gribble, c.e.o. of the National Centre for Writing, said: “Lucy brings together sharply drawn characters and a vivid sense of place that could not be anywhere other than our region with an absolutely gripping plot that will really speak to readers.
Dixon said: “I am so thrilled and honoured that my work has been chosen as the winner of this prize. This story and the characters have lived in my head for so long, it is an incredible feeling – nerve-racking but also exciting – to share them with the judging panel and then receive such an amazing response. It took me much longer than originally planned to complete my MA at UEA and this novel, but the support of my tutors and fellow students helped me make Choked a reality, and I am thrilled that my perseverance has paid off.”
Shercliff added: “I’m so delighted to be representing Lucy. I love the fact that Choked is set locally – it’s a world I recognise, yet Lucy creates this shady, compelling world below the surface, with a truly sinister main character who haunted me for days. I read it in one sitting and it kept me up late into the night.”
The Laxfield Literary Launch Prize, open to debut authors regardless of location, was won by Heather Parry, who is originally from Rotherham and now lives in Glasgow, for her unpublished debut novel Orpheus Builds a Girl, a fictionalised account of the true story of a German doctor in 1920s Florida who became obsessed with a young, terminally ill Cuban-American patient and, after her death, lived with her exhumed body for seven years.
She said: “I'm stunned but thrilled that Orpheus Builds a Girl has won this award, especially given that the other shortlisted works sound phenomenal. I'm very excited to be working with Emma to find the perfect home for Orpheus..., and to read the feedback from such talented judges. This has made all the horrifying research for this novel worthwhile!”
Shercliff added: “This was the standout novel from a very strong shortlist and I’m delighted the judges have chosen such a distinctive voice. I am immensely excited about working with Heather to find the perfect publisher for this disturbingly brilliant story.”
The shortlisted authors for the prize were Malawian author Timwa Lipenga for her coming-of-age novel Songs from a Cabbage Patch and Fatima Kara, for The Train House on Lobengula Street, which explores the lives of an Indian family in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, and the role they played in the liberation struggle.