Results of the 2018 New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing

This year, I’ve had the honour of being the co-ordinator for the New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing, which in just six years has become one of Australia’s most prestigious awards in the genre, and has launched the careers of several writers, most notably Emma Viskic, multiple award winning author, who was the first winner of the Fiction category in the inaugural(2013) Thunderbolt Prize.

The results of the 2018 Prize have been announced today(Nov 30) and I’m delighted to also be able to publish that announcement here. A full list of winners, highly commended and commended citations, as well as judges’ comments and reports, is available on the New England Writers’ Centre website.

Congratulations to all, and thank you to our wonderful judges and sponsors!

The New England Writers’ Centre is delighted to announce the results of the 2018 New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing.

The New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing is a national award for unpublished short-form crime writing in three main categories: Fiction, sponsored by the Faculty of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences and Education, University of New England; Non-Fiction, sponsored by Moin and Associates, Lawyers; and Poetry, sponsored by the New England Writers’ Centre. There are also three special awards: the New England Award for a writer resident in New England, sponsored by Readers’ Companion Bookshop; the Emerging Author Award, for an unpublished writer over 18, and the Youth Award, for writers under 18, sponsored by Christmas Press and Little Pink Dog Books, children’s publishers based in Armidale.

In its sixth year in 2018, the Prize attracted a strong field of entries from all over Australia, by writers both published and unpublished. New England writers also made a strong showing this year, with several receiving high commendations and commendations, including the winner of the New England Award, Phillipa Trelford, who received a Highly Commended citation in the Poetry category. Other New England writers represented include Linda Brandon, who received a Highly Commended citation in Fiction, Lynne Newberry, who received a Commended citation in Fiction, and Annie Worthing, who received a Highly Commended citation in the Youth Award.

The winners of the 2018 New England Thunderbolt Prize are as follows:

Poetry: Ivy Ireland (NSW), for Grey is not your colour.

Fiction: Nic Lesley (NSW) for Bottom of the harbour scheme.

Non-Fiction: Christopher Ryan(NSW) for Sins of the Fathers.

New England Award: Philippa Trelford(Armidale)for Chiaroscuro, Madgwick. Also Highly Commended, Poetry category.

Emerging Author Award: Nic Lesley(NSW) for Bottom of the harbour scheme. Also Winner, Fiction category.

Youth Award: Eva Mustapic, age 14 (WA) for Laundry Day.

The New England Writers’ Centre warmly congratulates all the winners, as well as all those who received Highly Commended and Commended citations. A full list of winners, as well as those highly commended and commended, plus judges’ comments, is attached.

All entries were blind-read by the judges, with all identifying marks removed, other than title and an assigned number. Judges this year were Jean Kent, Poetry; Sulari Gentill, Fiction; Pip Cummings, Non-Fiction; and Beattie Alvarez. The New England Award and Emerging Author Award were chosen based on judges’ recommendations.  The winning entries will be published on the New England Writers’ Centre website in December.

The New England Writers’ Centre wishes to thank the hard-working and thoughtful judges and all the generous sponsors of the New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing for helping to make 2018 another successful year for the Prize. And a big thank you to all entrants!

Publication week for Black Wings

This week sees the publication of Black Wings, coming out in the UK with the fabulous Greystones Press. On Tuesday I’m meeting my publishers and celebrating the book’s release. It will be wonderful to hold a copy of the book in my hands!

Copies of the book, which is available in both paperback and ebook format, can be ordered from Booktopia, Book Depository, Amazon etc.

Black Wings available for pre-order from online bookshops now

I’m very pleased to say that my adult historical novel Black Wings, which comes out in early October with the Greystones Press in the UK, is now available for pre-order from several online book retailers, including Booktopia, Book Depository, and on Amazon both in paperback and e-book formats (Australia, UK, US).

I will be in the UK when it comes out–can’t wait to celebrate it in person with my publishers Mary Hoffman and Stephen Barber of The Greystones Press, and fellow author Gill Vickery whose novel Tell Me No Truths comes out at the same time with The Greystones Press!

Nice review for See Monkey in Buzz Words

A very nice review for See Monkey has appeared in Buzz Words.

Here’s a short extract:

What a day! Follow Toddler and his favourite toy through their busy day and all the fun adventures and mischief they get up to. Parents with toddlers will relate to some of these amusing situations of these energetic adventures and after-fun clean-ups.

See Monkey is a children’s picture book for children of ages 3 – 7 years. The themes are universal, and it is a good read for families with babies and young children. The lively and colourful illustrations will capture the minds of a young audience.

You can read the whole review here.


Frosty School Morning

Simone Hale’s prize-winning interpretation of Frosty School Morning

It’s winter in New England, and a classic winter it is too, with hard cold nights and frosty mornings shading into crisp bright blue crystalline days. This morning it was minus 8.6 degrees, yesterday morning minus 7 degrees, and frost shines everywhere. The poem below poem is inspired by those frosty mornings, and by the experience of New England children who live out of town and have to catch  the bus to school. (The school bus stop is just down the road from our place.) I wrote the poem four years ago on commission from the New England Conservatorium of Music, who wanted three poems about children’s experiences of New England to set to music for the tenth anniversary of the major choral event, New England Sings. It was fantastic to hear it as a song–and then two years later, in 2016, I had the honour of having it chosen as the centrepiece for the inaugural New England Illustration Prize, which was won by the wonderful local artist Simone Hale(it’s her interpretation of her poem you can see above).

Frosty School Morning

by Sophie Masson


Walking to the bus stop on a frosty morning,

Crackles of grass like toffee crunches.

Kangaroo joey hops with her mother,

Maybe it’s a school day for them too.


Waiting for the bus on an icy morning,

Blowing in my hands to keep them warm,

Here come my friends, running late as usual,

Kookaburra laughs to see them go.


Riding on the bus on a winter morning,

Bumping along on the road to town.

Sitting with my friends on the slippery seats,

We write our names in the mist on the glass.



Angel time in the undiscovered country…

Intriguing title, right? 🙂 It is actually part of the title of the paper I gave in Kobe(Japan) in March, at the 2018 Asian Conference of Ethics, Philosophy and Religion. Based on aspects of my PHD research, it profiles the philosophical and cultural context of contemporary young adult afterlife fiction, and looks at several works of fiction, including a little about the creation of my own novel, The Ghost Squad, which I’ve written as part of the PHD. For any interested readers, the paper is now available to read online, as part of the published conference proceedings. The link takes you to the abstract, and from there, you can view or download the full paper itself.


Great review of Once Upon An ABC at Publishers’ Weekly (US)

Ahead of its release in the US in September, there’s a great review of my and Christopher Nielsen’s picture book, Once Upon an ABC(Little Hare) in Publishers’ Weekly. Here’s a short extract:

Oblique references to folk and fairy tale characters carry readers through the alphabet in this sprightly rhyming picture book. Beginning with Anansi the spider, “both clever and neat,” Masson name-checks specific characters (“C is for Cat, wearing elegant boots”) and describes more general figures (“D is for dragon, safeguarding his loot”). Textured with scratches and speckles and given a muted primary color scheme, Nielsen’s mixed-media images have a sturdy, posterlike presence.

The full review is here.

Cover reveal of my forthcoming picture book, Building Site Zoo!

Delighted to show the gorgeous cover of Building Site Zoo, my picture book with the wonderful illustrator Laura Wood, which will be published in October by Hachette Australia!

Here’s the blurb:

A fun, colourful book that combines two things kids adore – machines and animals!

‘Every morning on our walk we see an amazing zoo, full of astonishing animals. Come and see them too!’

A sister, brother and grandpa walk through town on their way to school, passing lots of construction sites as they go, seeing all the busy machines. They imagine that each one is an animal – the concrete mixer’s big round belly is like a hippo’s, the digger stretches its long neck like a giraffe, and the jackhammer hops up and down like a kangaroo.

Vibrant and engaging whimsical fun for machine-mad kids.