A Literary Honor: Hill Author, Shelly Dickson Carr’s Debut Novel Named Best First Book

Beacon Hill author Shelly Dickson Carr displays her debut novel, “Ripped: a Jack the Ripper Time-Travel Thriller.”

Beacon Hill author Shelly Dickson Carr displays her debut novel, “Ripped: a Jack the Ripper Time-Travel Thriller.”

Beacon Hill resident and writer Shelly Dickson Carr’s debut novel “Ripped: a Jack the Ripper Time-Travel Thriller” was named Best First Book (YA Fiction) at the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Awards last month in New York City.

Held at the Astor Ballroom in Times Square, the awards ceremony kicked off Book Expo America, which drew more than 20,000 readers, writers, publishers and book buyers.

In addition to the IBPA Gold Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book (YA Fiction), the novel garnered a Silver for Best New Voice and a Silver for Best Mystery/Suspense.

The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award, which recognizes excellence in both editorial and design, is regarded as one of the highest national honors in small and independent publishing.

Known by many of her friends and neighbors as Michelle Karol, the author said the awards are a great confidence boost, especially as she works on th sequel.

“To win three of these is just remarkable,” Carr said. “I am beyond happy – over the moon.”

The award is administered by the Independent Book Publishers Association, with the help of more than 160 book publishing professionals coming from the library, bookstore, reviewer, designer, publicity and editorial industry segments. This year was the 25th anniversary of the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards.

Published by New Book Partners in December of 2012, “Ripped” is available in soft cover at Blackstone’s of Beacon Hill, as well as independent bookstores and online outlets. It is also available as an eBook.

Carr’s grandfather was John Dickson Carr, who wrote more than 100 mysteries, many of which were set in England. Her grandfather lived in England for many years after falling in love with and marrying a

British woman, Clarice Cleaves. Shelly said her grandfather became more English, rather than her grandmother becoming more American, even after they moved to the United States.

Carr’s love of British culture, books and history primed her for recognizing the genius and appeal of “Downtown Abbey” before it was a household name here. After seeing the television drama years ago, she spearheaded the effort and succeeded in bringing the program to millions of homes in America.

On another trip to London – this time with fellow trustees for the Huntington Theatre in search of great plays to bring back to Boston – she thought anew about Jack the Ripper. She returned home with the skeleton sketch for her book, based on a Boston teen traveling back in time to Victorian London. The heroine, Katie Lennox, lands in the year 1888 when Jack the Ripper is terrorizing the city by killing young women. Katie knows she’s there to stop him.

On the heels of these awards, Carr is looking forward to a busy summer and fall, sharing “Ripped” with book lovers here and abroad. At the Boston

Book Festival in October, Carr will participate in a panel devoted to Young Adult books.

And in September, the author will be greet fans in London, where she has been asked to do a reading and book signing at the Tower of London. Formally known as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, Carr  was asked to read from her book at this historic castle to help “celebrate” the 125th anniversary of Jack the Ripper’s reign.

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