‘Pleased and excited’: Ardella Jones with Joan Lecky receiving the good news at the Virginia Prize Award
When Chalk co-founder Ardella Jones headed for Jamaica back in 1984 as an aspiring young music journalist she had no idea the trip would still have an impact on her life decades later.  As a result of her adventures in the dancehalls and recording studios of Kingston, interviewing reggae legends while a State of Emergency gripped the island, Ardella wrote a major feature for NME and won an award from the Catherine Pakenham Memorial for journalists. This was her first step in becoming a professional writer.
The experiences she had then and on many subsequent visits to Jamaica also gave her the raw material for a novel, but it took her years to find the right way to write it. Finally she brought together her love of hardcore crime fiction and her fascination with Jamaican culture to  create Miss Widow, an ex-policewoman with a tragic past in Jamaica and a dangerous present in Brixton. The result is Rolling Calf, the story of supercool Miss Widow and her flaky English friend Kim on the run from psychopathic yardie Glock Johnson – think Thelma and Louise meets The Harder They Come.
Aurora Metro Books, organisers of The Virginia Prize for Fiction, recognised this unique thriller’s power and awarded first place to Rolling Calf on 8th February at INK84 bookshop in Highbury. Ardella gave a big shout to her friend Joan Lecky who had shared her original adventures in Jamaica, fixing interviews, undertaking ‘Cockney translation’ and generally keeping her out of trouble rather like heroine Mss Widow does with Kim in the novel.
“I could never have written this book without Joan,” Ardella said as she was given a bouquet at the presentation. “She generously shared her country and her culture with me … and corrected my Jamaican grammar.”
Ardella also thanked editor Simona Sideri for correcting her English grammar and Jonathan Wolfman, CBBC producer, for story editing.  Ardella receives a £1,000 prize from Aurora Metro Books and is currently considering publication options for 2019.