Sam Shelstad Wins Best First Novel Award for Citizens of Light

Yesterday, Sam Shelstad received his first award for his debut novel, Citizens of Light. In an online ceremony he was awarded the Best Crime First Novel by the Crime Writers of Canada.

After receiving the news Sam Shelstad said, “I’m surprised and deeply honoured…I’ve never written any kind of crime fiction before, but had the idea to write about a comically dull woman living a guarded, lonely life and then see what would happen if I subjected this perhaps unremarkable character to the conventions of a noir or thriller novel, and to have the book recognized in this way is incredibly rewarding.” The jury found these conventions worked remarkably well stating, “You are pulled into the novel because of her sincerity and the simple but powerful authenticity of her story. These characters are rich and real; they evolve and grow. You feel like you know these characters; that you might meet them in the check-out line at Walmart.”

Shelstad will be presenting his novel at the upcoming MOTIVE Festival, hosted by the Toronto International Festival of Authors. You can find him reading from Citizens of Light the evening of June 4th and he’ll be in conversation with Scottish writer Jonathan Whitelaw also on June 4th.

Sam would like to thank, “Crime Writers of Canada, Melodie Campbell, and the judges. Congratulations to all the nominees. And thanks to the amazing people at TouchWood Editions, along with my agent Samantha Haywood, without whom this book would not exist.”

You can find out more about Sam’s novels, including a forthcoming book The Cobra and the Key, here on and about the awards at