The multi-million bestselling author

Meet the 2023 Judges

LJ Ross

LJ Ross is an international bestselling author of atmospheric crime and mystery thrillers, whose books are all inspired by and set in the North East and have sold over ten million copies worldwide. She was born and bred in the region, where she continues to live with her husband and young children. Through her own publishing imprint, Dark Skies Publishing, Louise undertakes a number of philanthropic ventures, including founding and sponsoring the Northern Photography Prize to support creative arts in the region she loves.

Joe Taylor

Joe Taylor is a freelance photographer specialising in outdoor lifestyle, landscape and nature photography. 

For as long as Joe can remember, he has always loved and felt happiest in the countryside and surrounded by nature. Fortunate to have grown up in rural Northumberland, it’s no surprise that he choose to specialise in outdoor lifestyle, landscape and nature photography. 

Joe studied photography at Newcastle College in 2004 and continued on to have a successful run of photographing weddings and local sporting events.  However, being young and keen to earn his keep, his career took a different course and he trained to become a carpenter/joiner. However, he strongly felt the urge to pursue photography. 

His main aim in his photography is to share the wonderful places he visits and his interactions with wildlife.


David Whetstone

For many years David was Culture Editor of The Journal, Newcastle. He has now now freelance covering North East arts for CULTURED. NORTH EAST and other media.

Janet Blair

Janet was picture editor and editor at sporting publishers Kensington West Productions before co-founding Living North and developing it into the leading lifestyle publication in the North of England. A Geordie born and bred, she is passionate about the North East and the incredible talent found here and Living North has championed small businesses, creatives and fledgling entrepreneurs for over 20 years. A mother of four, Janet loves the sea and spends as much time walking on the beach in Northumberland as she can.

Donna-Lisa Healy

Donna-Lisa Healy is a fine art photographer specialising in portraiture. She undertook a B.A. in Photography, Video and Digital Imaging, and an M.A. in Photography, at the University of Sunderland. She has had exhibitions at the Lit and Phil, Hatton, Queen’s Hall, Bede’s World, Newcastle City Library, and the Gala Theatre. Her portraits have been used from newspapers, to magazine covers, to the BBC. Her new exhibition of female crime writers is at Glasgow Women’s Library from July until Sept 2023. She loves a ride-out in the Northumberland countryside, and a good book.

Other areas of Philanthropy