27 May 2023

Prize-winning horror writer Lee Murray picks up first Kiwi award: 'It does feel momentous'

11:58 am on 27 May 2023
Lee Murray.

Lee Murray. Photo: Supplied

Lee Murray is the winner of this year's New Zealand Society of Authors Cuba Press Laura Solomon Prize.

She won for a manuscript re-imagining real-life narratives from the Chinese women's diaspora in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Murray has won nine international awards for her writing, including four prestigious Bram Stokers. But she said winning a New Zealand prize was still very special, especially as it was the first time she had been published by a local publisher.

"It does feel momentous to be suddenly visible at home," Murray said.

The winning manuscript, Fox Spirit on a Distant Cloud, was a series of interconnected narrative poems, linked through the classic mythology of the Chinese shapeshifting nine-tailed fox spirit, húli jīng, 狐狸精, as it seeks to ascend to its true form in the celestial skies.

Murray's manuscript was selected by a panel consisting of Mary McCallum and Sarah Bolland (The Cuba Press), Nicky Solomon (Solomon family) and panel convenor and award-winning author Tina Shaw.

"Fox Spirit on a Distant Cloud acts on a mythical level that also tells stories of so-called 'ordinary' women that we don't usually hear about," Shaw said.

Murray's winning manuscript will be published by The Cuba Press later this year. Publisher Mary McCallum said Murray's manuscript was an audacious combination of historical reality and mythology, poetic lyricism and political activism.

"She is telling stories that have waited a long time to be told and we are happy to be a part of making that happen," McCallum said.

Murray said it was really hard to be a writer in Aotearoa, but New Zealand stories were becoming more sought after on the world stage.

Murray will be appearing at the StokerCon in the US in June and returning to New Zealand to appear at Hamilton Book Month in August.

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