Anyone who is a regular follower of Fiction Books, will know that my favourite genres are murder/mystery and suspense/thriller. I have discovered over the years, just how proficient and successful that Scottish writers in particular, seem to be in these genres, with the line up for this year’s Deanston Award bearing out that view. A relative ‘who’s who’ of names were in strong contention for this year’s prize, so it was with great surprise and delight that a relative newcomer to the scene won the accolades of his more seasoned competitors and walked off with the title.
The Deanston Scottish Crime Book Of The Year, is awarded as part of ‘Bloody Scotland’, Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival, held this year in Stirling.
Deanston Distillery’s support of Bloody Scotland fits well with its history and bloody past, which includes connections to the infamous murderers, Burke and Hare.
The award has been commissioned to raise the profile of Scottish crime writing, whilst seeking to increase the recognition and prestige of the genre as a whole. To keep the ethos of the competition as authentic as possible, all authors must either have been born in Scotland, live in the country, or set their entered book within its shores.
The competition for the distinction of winning this coveted title, the trophy presented to the winner and the £1,000 prize money, have attracted some serious contenders from the genre this year, with the shortlist reading like a who’s who of crime writing authors ….
Ann Cleeves – ‘Dead Water’
Gordon Ferris – ‘Pilgrim Soul’
Malcolm MacKay – ‘How A Gunman Says Goodbye’
Denise Mina – ‘The Red Road’
Val McDermid – ‘The Vanishing Point’
Ian Rankin – ‘Standing In Another Man’s Grave’
This exceptionally strong list demonstrates the wealth and diversity of contemporary Scottish crime writing. Many of the authors are already at the top of their game, however new talent is equally well represented and received, as this year’s eventual winner and recipient of the award, Malcolm MacKay discovered.
THE WINNING AUTHOR
Stornoway is a town on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It is the birthplace and home to bachelor Malcolm MacKay, where he still lives with his parents, his father, Malcolm, a painter and decorator and his mother, Elma, who was a home help.
He has only left the islands to visit the mainland City of Glasgow, where his trilogy of books are set, a couple of times in his life. Following a diagnosis of ME, Malcolm was forced to leave mainstream education early in favour of home tuition. He has never had regular employment and has most certainly never been a cold-blooded contract killer, unlike his main protagonist Frank MacLeod. In fact, home was never a very bookish place for Malcolm and he will openly admit that he does very little research for his ‘tartan noir’ stories, simply relying on his very active imagination and the pulp fiction books which he discovered on-line, together with the influence which the classic American crime writers have had on him.
Malcolm relishes his quiet and more relaxed pace of life on the islands and couldn’t really imagine life in the mainstream cut and thrust of the world which he creates for his characters, or for the extreme and dangerous situations in which he places them.
I think that’s how it has to be. The early excitement, the lingering doubt. Without those things, why would you ever try again? The excitement of that first idea, of building a book around it. The doubt about it, pushing you toward that even more exciting next idea. That constant belief that the next idea is the best you’ve ever had is the greatest inspiration.
“It’s a huge and unexpected honour to win the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year. “At this stage of my career, I still feel like a kid being allowed to sit at the grown-ups’ table when put beside talent like my fellow nominees, so just being nominated was a great thrill for me. The quality of the six shortlisted novels highlights the depth and variety of Scottish crime writing, and the Deanston Award and Bloody Scotland Festival show what a vibrant scene it is.”
THE WINNING BOOK - Is the second in the ‘Glasgow Trilogy’
‘HOW A GUNMAN SAYS GOODBYE’
How does a gunman retire? Frank MacLeod was the best at what he does. Thoughtful. Efficient. Ruthless. But is he still the best? A new job. A target. But something is about to go horribly wrong. Someone is going to end up dead. Most gunmen say goodbye to the world with a bang. Frank’s still here. He’s lasted longer than he should have . ..
The breathtaking, devastating sequel to lauded debut ‘The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter’, ‘How a Gunman Says Goodbye’ will plunge the reader back into the Glasgow underworld, where criminal organisations war for prominence and those caught up in events are tested at every turn.
Congratulations on your outstanding success against such fierce competition, Malcolm. I look forward to reading the series as soon as possible.