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Minotaur Books and the Mystery Writers of America introduced the winner of their annual "First Crime Novel Competition" at the 76th annual Edgar Awards Banquet on April 28 in New York City. Jess Armstrong, who lives and writes in New Orleans, won for her novel The Curse of Penryth Hall, which will be published in 2023. “Jess impressed us right away with the lyrical descriptions and passionate characters in her novel, The Curse of Penryth Hall," says Vice President and Associate Publisher at Minotaur Books Kelley Ragland. "Her Gothic mystery is set in 1920s Cornwall and features an unforgettable heroine in Ruby Vaughn, who must overcome the power of the village's long-held legends in order to catch a killer. ” Armstrong has a master's degree in American History but prefers writing about imaginary people to the real thing. She lives in New Orleans with her historian husband, two sons, yellow cat, speckled dog and the world’s two most pampered school-fair goldfish. When she’s not working on her next project, she’s probably thinking about cheese, baking, tweeting or some combination of the above. We interviewed Armstrong by email about winning the competition, how she's inspired by the Southern Gothic imagery of New Orleans and what she's reading this summer. Erin Z. Bass: How does it feel to be the winner of a "First Crime Novel Competition" from the Mystery Writers of America? Jess Armstrong: It is such an incredible honor to have won this contest. Honestly, it’s still a little surreal. When I initially entered the contest, I knew there would be a ton of submissions and I never really imagined that my book would be the one that was chosen. So when I got the call in late March and a New York number popped up on my caller ID, I really thought it was going to end up being spam or something, but answered anyway. I was so surprised when it was Madeline Houpt (my now editor) on the other end of the line, who told me I’d won. I was completely surprised. Since then, with each step in the process, the reality has set in and I am getting more and more excited to share my heroine Ruby Vaughn and her adventures at Penryth Hall with the world. EZB: The title of your winning novel is The Curse of Penryth Hall. What is Penryth Hall, and why did you choose Cornwall for the setting? JA: Penryth Hall is this forbidding and decaying manor house located in a fictional town north of Bodmin Moor towards Cornish coast. Why Cornwall? It’s funny in a way, because I think Cornwall chose me for this one instead of the other way around. I knew right away that I wanted to incorporate folklore into the underlying mystery. I also knew that I wanted to set the story in the first few years after the first World War. To me, the time period is so interesting with the rapid changes and the tension between tradition and modernity. So as I

Minotaur Books and the Mystery Writers of America introduced the winner of their annual "First Crime Novel Competition" at the

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Arkansas is home to more than three million people, and it’s a must-see state for people who love beautiful nature and an outdoor lifestyle.

Experiencing Miami, Key West or Orlando doesn't have to break the bank.

Visiting a city in the South will definitely stay with you long after you return home.

In a new exhibition, The Historic New Orleans Collection goes behind the scenes to recall the lasting legacy of Tennessee Williams' best-known work.

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Visiting a city in the South will definitely stay with you long after you return home.