Two authors with strong Rotorua links have been named the country's best crime writers at the 10th Ngaio Marsh Awards held in Christchurch at the weekend.
They are Dame Fiona Kidman for her latest work This Mortal Boy which took the award's top prize for best novel and JP (Josh) Pomare. He was named the winner of the Best First Novel category with his Call Me Evie, launched in Rotorua in January.
The Ngaio Marsh win is the fourth major award this year for Kidman who was awarded the Ockham prize for fiction at the national book awards in May for This Mortal Boy. It has also won her the 2019 NZ Booklovers Award and New Zealand Publishers' Association Heritage Book Award.
Kidman began her writing career while a librarian at the Rotorua Library, continuing from her Lynmore home, before moving to Wellington in the early 1970s.
During her Rotorua years she was a feature writer for the then Daily Post and after her move south with her late husband, Ian Kidman, a former Rotorua Boys' High School teacher, she contributed a weekly column to this newspaper entitled Capital Comment.
This Mortal Boy is a recreation of what led to the hanging of Irish seaman, Albert "Paddy" Black, after his conviction for the Queen St Auckland milk bar murder of Alan Jacques in the early 1950s. Black's hanging was the country's second to last before the abolition of capital punishment.
Pomare, 31, was born and educated in Rotorua, growing up on his parents', Bill and the late Pauline's, horse stud at Kaharoa. His winning work is described as a mind bending psychological thriller. A large part is set in Maketu.
Pomare's manuscript was the subject of a bidding war between leading publishers and has become a best seller nationally and internationally.