Local author, Emma Timpany, from Truro, has won a prestigious regional prize with her first novel, Travelling in the Dark. The Hall & Woodhouse DLF Writing Prize was awarded to Emma by best-selling author, Minette Walters at a ceremony held in Poundbury, Dorchester last week.

Emma said, ‘I am absolutely delighted to have won this year’s award. I entered the competition because a friend suggested it, but I never dreamt I’d have the chance of winning. The £1,000 prize money will allow me time to research and write my next novel. It took me 6 years to write my first, and although sales have been good since it was published in 2018, winning a prize like this one will hopefully give the book a real boost.’

Born in New Zealand, but a long-term resident of Cornwall, Emma Timpany, who also works as an administrator, drew on her early experience of life in a remote part of New Zealand in order to construct her extraordinary story about a mother and son travelling to visit a sick friend. Along a route shaken by earthquakes, the mother recognises the need to bring together past and present; allowing her to eventually come to terms with her memories.

‘The book was inspired by a journey home to the wild and beautiful landscape of southern New Zealand with my husband and children in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake of 2011. Returning to beloved childhood places made me think of how the past is never lost; though unseen and unknown by others, it is a force which continues to resonate in the present.’

Of the four books shortlisted for the prize, Travelling in the Dark, was picked unanimously by the final judges: a leading literary agent and publisher. The prize was set up in 2018 by the Dorchester Literary Festival with the aim of encouraging writers either based in, or with a close connection to the West Country. This year more than 70 writers entered books of remarkable contrast and diversity, meaning the judging process was both lengthy and challenging.

Once again, the prize was made possible by the generous sponsorship of Dorset brewery, Hall & Woodhouse. Lucinda Gray, company relationship manager, said ‘We are proud to continue our support of local writers in Dorset and the South West. It was a pleasure to learn about the authors who were shortlisted and it’s fantastic to be part of an event which celebrates the wealth of literary talent we have within the area.’