According to the winner of the crime novel of the year award, writing saved his life.
Last night, the winner of the UK’s most prestigious crime novel of the year prize said that writing had “saved his life.” After a horrific mugging, Chris Whitaker experienced acute post-traumatic stress and suicidal thoughts.
We Begin At The End received him the Theakston Old Peculier prize 2021, which was sponsored by the Daily Express. At the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, the award was presented. The North Yorkshire spa town’s sold-out event is the UK’s first live literary festival since the lockdown ended on Sunday.
Chris, who was 19 when he was stabbed in London for his phone, said: “After being mugged, I began writing this book as a sort of rehabilitation.” Without a sure, this story saved my life, so receiving this award seems like the most fantastic, dreamy conclusion to a 20-year journey.
“I’ve read the shortlisted novels, so I know I’m not a deserving winner, but I’m grateful nonetheless, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop smiling.”
He is a father of three and resides in Hertfordshire at the age of 39.
He won the title on his first nomination, receiving £3,000 and an engraved wood beer cask from Theakstons Brewery, hand-carved by one of Britain’s last coopers.
The choice to highly commend Northern Irish author Brian McGilloway for his outstanding political thriller The Last Crossing was extraordinary.
Mark Billingham, Val McDermid, and Adrian McKinty, who won the award for his smash-hit thriller The Chain in 2020, are among the previous winners of the award, which is now in its 17th year.
“The competition for this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award has been hard fought, a reflection of the extraordinary quality of all the longlisted and shortlisted crime novels released within the last year,” said Simon Theakston, executive director of T&R Theakston. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Chris Whitaker.”
“It’s a tremendous joy to be connected with the world’s most famous celebration of crime literature, and we’re glad the Theakston Old Peculier Festival is back this year in the flesh and better than ever,” said Gary Jones, Express Editor-in-Chief.
“Congratulations to everyone of the finalists, especially the winner, Chris Whitaker.”
Ian Rankin OBE and Mark Billingham, winners of the Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award for 2021 and 2020, respectively, received special recognition.