New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing

New England Writers Centre has announced an exciting new national literary award, the New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing.

The prize is for unpublished short-form crime writing in three categories: fiction, non-fiction and poetry. It has been inspired not only by New England’s traditional association with the legendary bushranger Captain Thunderbolt, but also because of the region’s many associations with crime writing.

For instance, Rolf Bolderwood, author of the classic 19th century novel Robbery Under Arms was a magistrate in Armidale for some years; Tom Keneally’s The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith was partly filmed at Saumarez Homestead; and best-selling crime novelist Gabrielle Lord is a graduate of the University of New England. Also, current and former residents have been successful with cross-genre crime, mystery and suspense novels, including Wendy and Rebecca James, Bronwyn Parry, and NEWC Chair Sophie Masson, whose book The Hunt for Ned Kelly won the children’s category in the 2011 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

Strong local support has made possible the following generous awards:

The New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Fiction: First Prize: $500, for a story of up to 2,500 words. Sponsored by the School of Arts, University of New England.

The New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Non-Fiction: First Prize: $500 for an article of up to 2,500 words. Sponsored by The Armidale Express.

The New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Poetry: First Prize: $500 for a poem of up to 60 lines. Sponsored by Collins Booksellers (Armidale and Tamworth), Dymocks Bookshop (Armidale) Chaucer on Bridge Street Gallery (Uralla), and the Armidale Dumaresq Memorial Library.

There will also be an extra prize of $200 for the best entry by a writer resident in New England, sponsored by the New England Writers’ Centre.

All winning entries will be published in the Armidale Express.

Open to writers all over Australia, whether published or unpublished.

The three judges, all residents of New England, have a national and international profile and high reputation in their various fields. Fiction judge is Bronwyn Parry, best-selling author of three mystery novels, As Darkness Falls, Dark Country and Dead Heat, published in Australia and overseas; poetry judge is Michael Sharkey, eminent poet with more than twenty books to his name, who has also taught literature in universities in Australia, New Zealand and China, run his own poetry press and taught writing to prisoners; and non-fiction judge is Dr Xanthe Mallett, criminologist, forensic anthropologist and presenter of TV shows including BBC 2’s History Cold Case and the US-based series The Decrypters. She is currently filming series 1 of Coast Australia.

Closing date: 30 September 2013

For more information and entry forms, please visit