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"Chillingly entertaining": Melbourne writer Ruth McIver wins $10,000 Richell Prize with crime novel 'I Shot the Devil'

A total of 660 writers submitted chapter samples of their draft manuscripts to the Richell Prize this year in the hopes of snaring the attention of the judges and scoring $10,000 and a 12-month mentoring program with publisher Hachette.

The victorious writer is Ruth McIver, a Melbourne-based creator of poetry and fiction currently undertaking a PhD in crime fiction inspired by true crime.

According to The Guardian, her manuscript ‘I Shot the Devil’ is inspired by a ‘black widow murder’ the author came across as a child in the US.

The story is set in 2010, where a journalist is investigating a spate of crimes that occurred in her hometown in Long Island, New York. The novel alternates between this storyline and a memoir written in 1994 called Resident Alien that sheds light on the crime.  

Judges said McIver’s novel is ‘a dark and unforgettable literary noir’ and found it ‘atmospheric and chillingly entertaining’.  

McIver has previously released a novel written in verse that was based on a true crime. The novel was subsequently adapted for stage. 

The Richell Prize is designed to bolster the careers of emerging writers and is named after Matthew Richell, the CEO of Hachette Australia, who died in a surfing accident in 2014. His widow, Hannah Richell, is a judge for the prize.

The prize is run by Hachette in conjunction with the Emerging Writers’ Festival and The Guardian. You can read an extract of the winning manuscript here.

The inaugural winner of the prize, Sally Abbott, had her novel Closing Down published in 2017. Last year also saw the publication of Brodie Lancaster’s No Way! Okay, Fine, which was shortlisted for the 2016 award.