University criminologist turns crime writer
A university criminology lecturer has won the top prize in a national writing competition and will have her book published next year as part of her award. Diana Bretherick, a senior lecturer in criminology at the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, has been crowned the winner of the first-ever Good Housekeeping novel competition, in association with Orion Books.
Diana, from the University’s Institute of Criminal justice Studies, who is a self-confessed crime fiction addict beat more than 7,000 writers from across the country with her historical crime thriller The Devil’s City – a dark and evocative tale of murder set in 19thcentury Turin.
The judges included bestselling author, co-founder of the Orange Prize for Fiction and co-director of the Chichester Writing Festival Kate Mosse, top literary agent Luigi Bonomi, Orion Books Fiction Publishing Director Kate Mills and Good Housekeeping Editorial Director Lindsay Nicholson.
Orion Books Fiction Publishing Director Kate Mills said: “Diana Bretherick is a very exciting discovery for Orion and Good Housekeeping. The Devil’s City is a terrific debut novel, spiriting the reader back in time to the birth of forensic science in Turin at the end of the nineteenth century. Diana explores this fascinating period with a thoroughly modern narrative, a suspenseful whodunit, and an excellent cast of characters and red herrings.
“It was an outstanding entry in the competition and a very worthy winner. I have no doubt Diana has a very promising career ahead of her as a writer. We could not be more delighted to be publishing her first book in 2013.”
Good Housekeeping Editorial Director Lindsay Nicholson said: “The standard of entries was incredibly high. Several on the long list will, I am sure, make their way into print but the outright winner was a unanimous choice.”
Diana wrote the novel while studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth where she has spent 10 years lecturing in criminology. She said the course gave her structure, support from fellow students and the determination to finish the book.
“I couldn’t have done it without the course. I learned so much and the feedback I had from tutors and fellow students was simply invaluable.
“And my role at the University meant I was uniquely placed to ask for advice from my colleagues, fellow criminologists and forensics experts who helped advise me on accuracy and detail.”
Diana said her inspiration for the novel came during a student seminar in which she was discussing the man reputed to be the father of criminology, the Italian Cesare Lombroso.
“One of my students asked me if Lombroso had ever investigated crime and it gave me the seed of an idea. I visited Turin, the intriguing city where he lived and worked, which has a fascination with the occult and is reputed to be the location of the gates of hell and the stage was set.”
As winner of the competition Diana receives a £25,000 advance, help and advice from the editorial team at Orion Books and from her agent, plus her book will be published in 2013. She is currently working on a sequel.