Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ngaio Marsh Award: Me and Mr McGee

Greg McGee with the 2010 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, that he won for his
debut thriller CUT & RUN, written under the pseudonym Alix Bosco. Photo credit: Maja Moritz

When the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel was launched in 2010, it marked a new era in New Zealand crime, mystery, and thriller writing. We finally had an award to celebrate our best works in the world's most popular genre. Murmurs around the local literary world were largely positive, and a big September event - including a murder mystery-themed performance by the famous Court Theatre - was scheduled to headline that year's Christchurch Writers Festival in the prime Saturday night slot.

Unfortunately, everything changed when a few days beforehand the first of two major earthquakes struck Christchurch. Fortunately no lives were lost then (unlike the devastating 'quake a few months later), but infrastructure was badly damaged, and the festival was cancelled. Then, in December, a good crowd turned out for a one-off special event, complete with finalists Vanda Symon and Neil Cross, and local crime writer Paul Cleave. Unfortunately, as s/he was writing under a pseudonym at that time, the inaugural winner was not there to claim their well-earned prize in person: Alix Bosco for the terrific debut CUT & RUN.

So we never had a picture of the winner with the first award - a terrific and distinctive handcrafted trophy created by sculptor Gina Ferguson. It was still a fabulous night, and it was great to have New Zealand crime fiction finally being celebrated in such a way. The Ngaio Marsh Award has gone from strength to strength in the years since, but it always irked me we never had a picture of Greg McGee (who 'came out' as Alix Bosco in 2011) with his trophy. But thanks to photographer Maja Moritz, now we do.

I'm very pleased to share this lovely photo with you all now. Moritz did a photographic series of 43 New Zealand authors for DPA Picture Alliance in Germany in association with New Zealand being the Guest of Honour at the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair. You can see more about her work on this project here.

As part of that project, Moritz took some photos of Greg McGee at his house, including this one of him holding up the Ngaio Marsh Award he'd won as 'Alix Bosco' two years before.

Moritz, who is a very talented photographer, and took some lovely pics of some iconic New Zealand authors (including other crime writers like Paddy Richardson, Chad Taylor, and Eleanor Catton), has been kind enough to let us use this photo now. You can see more of her work at her website here.

Thank you Maja. We appreciate you sharing your talent, and work, with us.

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