South Otago-born writer wins national award

A South Otago-born author has scooped a major national crime-writing award.

Now based in Melbourne, Rob (RWR) McDonald picked up the best first novel prize for his book The Nancys at Saturday night’s 10th anniversary Ngaio Marsh Awards in Christchurch.

Mr McDonald was born in Balclutha, and grew up on a sheep and venison farm near Owaka.

Although he now lives in Melbourne, he maintains strong ties to the region, and set his first novel in Otago.

The fictional town of Riverstone in The Nancys was modelled "somewhat on Balclutha", he said.

Although Mr McDonald was unable to attend the awards ceremony at the WORD Christchurch Spring Festival, due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, Allen & Unwin publishers representative Erena Shingade accepted the trophy on his behalf.

Judges described The Nancys as an "exuberant small-town murder mystery".

The novel features youngster Tippy Chan, who teams with her visiting uncle and his boyfriend to work out who murdered her teacher.

"Hilarious and inventive; the dynamic between the young protagonist and the adult characters is unusual and special," the judging panel said.

Both prizewinners at this year’s ceremony were debut novelists and best novel went to Aue, by Becky Manawatu (Ngai Tahu).

Winners received cash prizes and trophies.

Judging convener and awards founder Craig Sisterson said, "We’ve been blessed to have some extraordinary books to consider and celebrate over the past decade, and this year has further added to the growing depth and diversity of local crime writing."

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