Writing can be a lonely, isolating existence, so winning awards is a fantastic sign that other people `get` what you are trying to do. When I won the Debut Dagger in 2005 it was a watershed moment for me. Until that point I had thought of writing as a hobby – I had self-published my first novel (The James Version) but was still working as a Probation Officer. The Dagger gave me the confidence to resign and dedicate myself to writing full-time. I signed with a top agent and the novel was going to be submitted to six major publishing houses.
Of course, things are never straightforward and The Woman Before Me didn’t get picked up by the major publishers. They worried that it was not commercial enough, and that it didn’t fit neatly enough into the `crime novel` box. It went into the bottom drawer and I started to write my third novel, The Sacrificial Man.
In 2009 I saw the Luke Bitmead bursary advertised in Writer’s News and it seemed perfect for The Woman Before Me. The bursary aims to promote and publish a new writer each year, and was set up in memory of Luke Bitmead, a talented writer who sadly committed suicide. Winning the award was totally unexpected and I cried through much of the ceremony, knowing that I would finally see my novel in print.
It was a long time coming, but it was worth the wait!
Humber Boy B by Ruth Dugdall is out now.