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SISTERS IN CRIME ANNOUNCES WINNER OF 2019 ELEANOR TAYLOR BLAND CRIME FICTION WRITERS OF COLOR AWARD

Thursday, August 1, 2019  
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The award benefits an emerging writer of color in the crime fiction genre

August 1, 2019 – Sisters in Crime (SinC) announced today that the 2019 winner of the annual Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award is Jessica Martinez of Orcutt, CA, whose novel-in-progress features Teia Santiago, a police detective whose father-in-law blackmails her into kidnapping a textile manufacturing heiress—who also happens to be her sister-in-law.

In a joint statement, judges Cheryl Head, Mia P. Manansala, and Tonya Spratt-Williams said, “Ms. Martinez has great potential as a fresh new voice within the crime fiction community and capably displays a proficiency with humor. Her submission introduced the committee to a fun and witty protagonist and left the committee looking forward to her completed novel.”

The award, which honors the memory of pioneering African-American crime fiction author Eleanor Taylor Bland with a $2,000 grant to an emerging writer of color, was created in 2014 to support SinC’s vision statement that the organization should serve as the voice for excellence and diversity in crime writing. The grant is intended to support the recipient in such developmental and research activities as workshops, seminars, conferences and retreats, online courses, and other opportunities required for completion of their debut crime fiction work. Past recipients include Maria Kelson (2014), Vera H-C Chan (2015), Stephane Dunn (2016), Jessica Ellis Laine (2017) and Mia P. Manansala (2018).

“I was so excited to learn that I had received the 2019 Eleanor Taylor Bland Award from Sisters in Crime,” said Martinez. “It feels great for someone to recognize my work as having potential. This award is affirmation for me to continue writing and to finish fleshing out this specific story of mine.”

Eleanor Taylor Bland (1944-2010) paved the way for fresh voices in crime fiction by showcasing complex characters that had previously been peripheral to or simply missing from the genre. Dead Time (1992), the first in her series of novels, introduced African-American police detective Marti MacAlister, an enduring and beloved heroine who overturned stereotypes that had been perpetuated in much of American popular culture. Bland also published several works of short crime fiction and edited the 2004 collection, Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African-American Authors.

Sisters in Crime (SinC) was founded in 1986 to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers. Today, the organization boasts 3,600 members and 50 chapters worldwide and its initiatives also include other scholarships, grants for academic research into the roles of women and underserved voices in crime fiction; cash awards to libraries and bookstores; and surveys and monitoring projects which determine visibility and representation of women and diverse voices in the genre and across the marketplace.


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