Robert Barnard wins 2006 Short Story Award
The winner of this year’s CWA Short Story Awards was announced at a dinner as part of the Off The Shelf festival in Sheffield on October 18.
Robert Barnard beat the competition to take the £1500 prize for his story Sins of Scarlet in the CWA anthology edited by Martin Edwards, ID: Crimes of Identity, published by Comma Press. The story was commended by the judges as: “The ultimate in locked room murders, set in the Sistine Chapel during an election of a Pope.”
The shortlisted authors, chosen from more than 100 entries, were Robert Barnard, Ken Bruen, Stuart Pawson and Martyn Waites. The judges were chaired by Peter Lovesey, winner of both the CWA Gold Dagger (twice), the Silver Dagger, and the prestigious CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger. He said that the final list demonstrated that: “The crime short story can still thrill, chill and entertain in a variety of styles and settings.” The other judges were crime fiction reviewers Ayo Onatade and Ali Karim.
Robert Richardson, Chair of the CWA, said: “We’re delighted to be part of the Off The Shelf festival. Many of our events take place in London, so it’s good to come to another city and underline the fact that there are outstanding crime writers working all over Britain.”
Receiving his award, Robert Barnard said: “This is utterly delightful. I’ve had nominations in the US – and won – but they’ve never had any money attached . . . (Sins of Scarlet) was intended as a full-length novel but I don’t like novels that have only one sex in them and thought it came better as a short story.” He also revealed that the story had been turned down by a leading US short story magazine. “They loved it, but wouldn’t publish it - it was too offensive to too many people . . . which was very sad. It’s a very nice story and I did enjoy writing it.”
Robert Barnard lives in Leeds, was born in Essex and educated at Balliol. He had a distinguished career as an academic before he became a full-time writer. His first crime novel, Death of An Old Goat, was written while he was professor of English at the University of Tromso in Norway, the world’s most northerly university. He is a writer of great versatility, from the light and satirical tone of his earlier books to the more psychological preoccupations of recent ones, such as A Fatal Attachment. Under the name of Bernard Bastable he has also written novels featuring Mozart as a detective, and is the author of many short stories. He has created several detectives, including Perry Trethowan and Charlie Peace. Robert Barnard says he writes only to entertain. He regards Agatha Christie as his ideal crime writer and has published an appreciation of her work, A Talent To Deceive, as well as books on Dickens, a history of English literature and nearly thirty mysteries. Robert Barnard was the winner of the 2003 CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for a lifetime of achievement. The photograph of him (right) was taken at that ceremony.
The other stories on the shortlist were:
Ken Bruen for Loaded from London Noir (Serpent's Tail)
Brixton noir, tough as they come, strong, finely crafted and convincing.
PD James for The Part-Time Job from The Detection Collection (Orion)
The account of an original form of revenge, with revelation after revelation.
Stuart Pawson for Les's Story from I.D. Crimes of Identity (Comma Press)
Perfectly fitting the I.D. theme, this story told by a tearaway kid is compelling, moving and surprising.
Martyn Waites for Love from London Noir (Serpent's Tail)
The voice of a skinhead tells powerfully and ironically of racial conflict and self-discovery.