Award-Winning Author of ‘The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’ Says Writing It Was ‘Awful’

It was just this week that Stuart Turton was named the winner of the Costa first novel prize and awarded £5,000 for his book. According to The Guardian, Turton’s novel, Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, was described by judges as an “ingenious, intriguing and highly original mindbender of a murder mystery”. However, Turton himself said the process of writing it was “awful”.


Stuart Turton

 Image Via Amazon

The novel follows the beautiful young Evelyn who is murdered at her parents’ party. However, she doesn’t die just once; she is murdered over and over as each day repeats itself with no break in the mystery. That’s when Aiden, a party guest, tries to find the killer. But each repeated moment and day he tries, he returns in the body of another guest. His time is running out as he tries to find the clues when it seems like maybe someone doesn’t want him to.


The book sounds phenomenal and the judges made this choice with 117 additional entries in front of them. “We were all stunned that this exciting and accomplished novel, planned and plotted perfectly, is a debut,” the panel had said. Interestingly enough, the winners in the past have been huge bestsellers from authors like Zadie Smith to Nathan Filer. However, Turton didn’t have the typical author story.


Stuart Turton

Image Via Goodreads

The 38-year-old Cheshire resident never had the desire to be an author, he simply loved Agatha Christie as a child. This pushed him to write his one attempt at a crime novel when he was 21. When he saw it as “phenomenally bad”, he went on to travel all over the world and have all sorts of jobs from working on a goat ranch to cleaning toilets. It was a couple years later while he was working as a travel writer in Dubai that the idea for Evelyn suddenly came to him.


“It was the body-hopping and the Groundhog Day loop. I didn’t have anything else, the characters or murder, I just had that concept. The moment I got it, I thought: ‘Oh crap, now I’ve got to go and do that, and I’ve got to be in England, I need that atmosphere, those stately homes. I need to be lost in drizzly forests, I cannot do that in the desert… I was terrified the entire time, from the moment the idea came and I knew I had to follow through on it.”


It still didn’t come easy from there. He changed his ideas and plans more than he could say, until he finally decided to allow the story to flow where it may. Now, as a winner of this honorable award, Turton and four others will go on to compete for book of the year, a £30,000 prize.


Check out the list of winners below with the youngest winner being only 27! They were chosen from 641 entries altogether, so we know this will be some of their best work yet.


Best novel: Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber)
Best first novel: Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (Raven Books)
Best biography: The Cut Out Girl: A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found by Bart van Es (Penguin)
Best poetry: Assurances by JO Morgan (Jonathan Cape)
Best children’s book: The Skylarks’ War by Hilary McKay (Macmillan)



Featured Image Via The National