THE winner of the inaugural Lindisfarne Prize for Debut Crime Fiction, founded by crime queen LJ Ross, has been announced.

Cressida Downing impressed the judges with her work, The Roll Bearer’s Daughter, which is set on Holy Island at the turn of the 15th century.

The prize, designed to both encourage new literary talent and to celebrate the North-East, is named in honour of the place which inspired LJ Ross’ own first novel.

It carries with it £2,500 in cash, to support the completion of the winning book, as well as free editorial and mentoring from Cheshire Cat Books and a year's membership of two authors' associations.

Cressida, who lives in Cambridge, was on holiday in Northumberland when she was first introduced to the "stark beauty of the coastline".

A visit to Lindisfarne's 15th century priory inspired her storyline in which the protagonist, a female scribe, confronts present dangers while running from the past.

“I’ve been sitting on the idea for about two years thinking I’d start writing it ‘some time’," she said, "and the Lindisfarne Prize gave me the impetus to get going with a concrete deadline.

"I am so grateful to LJ Ross and the other prize organisers for getting me off the ground and winning it is just amazing!

"The practical and emotional help offered is so valuable.”