A Mayo writer has been honoured with the People’s Choice Award by on-line readers of Novelicious Undiscovered 2012. Colleen Cribbin–Downham from Swinford was crowned winner after a highly competitive competition which saw her fend off some top quality writers from various countries to gain the prestigious accolade. Her entry, ‘With Every Heartbreak’, has drawn rave reviews from readers of the popular website.
Colleen, who has been teaching in Germany for the past four years, is daughter of Lorcan and Betty Cribbin, who now reside in Castlebar. She was born in Canada where her parents lived for some years and moved to Swinford at the age of ten when the family returned to Ireland.
A past pupil of Mount St Michael in Claremorris, Colleen received her teaching qualifications from Mater Dei in Dublin. In November 2010, she won the Best Female Performance at the Bard of Armagh Festival, an award which gave her great encouragement to pursue her interest in writing and literary skills.
Colleen told The Mayo News she was delighted with the news that “With Every Heartbeat” had landed the top award.
“I was selected in the Top 20 by a panel of editors. Every day in May an entry was showcased to the public and the voting then took place on line over two weeks. The winner - with the most votes for their opening chapter- was announced on Tuesday. I was delighted to discover it was me after a very exciting but nerve-wracking build up.
“I am over the moon with excitement and delight and gratitude. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me as a writer and I’m so happy. Make no mistake, this competition was fierce! There were so many fantastic entries - hilariously funny, mysterious, grief-filled, terrifying!
The whole process throughout May was such an experience in itself. “I couldn’t wait to read the entries every day at lunch time. What an opportunity to read so much amazing talent and that is all thanks to Kirsty and all at Novelicious and all the wonderful entrants who I’m sure have been experiencing the same restless, excited anxiety that I have since the shortlist was announced. Their support from Mayo and Mayo people worldwide had a huge influence behind the success, the support in terms of votes and well wishes has been outstanding.”
The inspiration received from her teachers in Mount St Michael, Claremorris has played a central role in guiding her to where she is today. Colleen is delighted to pay tribute to those who shaped her formative years in education. “I would never have the confidence to do any writing at all if it wasn’t for the wonderful teachers I had in Mount St Micheal. They were outstanding.”
Her prize includes a meeting with Harper Collins in London who publish authors such as Cecelia Ahern and Claudia Carroll and also a full manuscript critique with Avon Commissioning Editor, Caroline Hogg, over tea and cake in their London offices.