Sheffield writer is winner of top children’s author competition run by Waterstones

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Sheffield-based writer Sharna Jackson has been named as the winner of the Books for Younger Readers category of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2020 for her debut novel High-Rise Mystery.

She received £2,000 and the promise of ongoing commitment to her writing career.

Sharna is the artistic director at Site Gallery, Sheffield’s leading international contemporary art space, a member of BAFTA’s Children’s and Learning and New Talent committees and the Children’s Media Conference advisory board.

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In High-Rise Mystery Sharna tells the gripping story of sleuthing sister duo Nik and Norva who, armed with curiosity and home-turf knowledge, set out to solve a murder in their high rise home The Tri.

Award winning author Sharna JacksonAward winning author Sharna Jackson
Award winning author Sharna Jackson
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Full of suspense and surprising twists, the story keeps readers on their toes as they follow the young protagonists on their adventures.

Waterstones’ buyer Florentyna Martin said: “Whilst mystery fiction has long been a favourite genre of writing, Sharna’s skilful crafting of language levels directly with younger readers and brings forward a fresh, pacey and exciting angle for the genre.

"Characterisation is key in any whodunnit plot and High-Rise Mystery’s collection of characters kept us guessing until the very end, weaving us masterfully in and out of plot with enough unstoppable intrigue to keep us reading after bedtime.

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"Nik and Norva lead the way as two of the best super sleuths we’ve ever met, and we can’t wait to read what they do next.”

Sharna said: “I’ve been reading, watching and playing with mysteries since I was small – thanks to a Sherlock Holmes-obsessedum. The genre is great fun – it’s ludic and gets your readers quickly engaged and feel smart, which they all undoubtedly are. The twists, the turns, the chicanery and all-out scammery in murder mysteries is fantastic – but the typically-posh, vintage, white and stuffy characters and settings were due an update. High-Rise Mystery was therefore an experiment. I wanted to see if mystery’s codes and conventions could be transposed to today in a new context, to a working-class setting, led by two contemporary clever and funny black girls. I like to think that winning this prize means that the experiment was a success, so thank you.”

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