Karen Chisholm

Fresh voices came to the fore at WORD Christchurch Spring Festival on Saturday afternoon as Becky Manawatu and RWR McDonald were named the winners of the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards.

Both winners were first-time novelists, and while their winning books were different in many ways, each was told in large part from the perspective of young children dealing with loss and violence in small-town New Zealand, each included a rich cast of diverse characters, and each expertly blended lighter moments with dark events in tense tales that could make readers gasp and laugh.