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Friday, 25 October 2013

Dundee Book Prize Winner Announced

Chris Longmuir, winner of the Dundee International Book Prize 2009
As a past winner of the Dundee International Book Prize, I always take a keen interest in the current winner, so when I spotted the headline ‘Dark Tale Lands City’s Book Prize’ in the Dundee Courier and Advertiser, I had to read on.

Nicola White, winner 2013
This year’s winner is Nicola White, with a book called ‘In the Rosary Garden’, and the book sounds as if it’s right up my street. It is a crime story set in Ireland, but if you want to know more about it, do what I did and hop over to Amazon to read the blurb. The kindle ebook is on sale now, and the paperback will be available soon. And if you want to know more about Nicola you’ll find her on the Dundee International Book Prize website Winners’ Page.

Nicola is the ninth author to win this prestigious prize, which is claimed to be the biggest cash prize for an unpublished book, in Europe. If you want to see the previous winners you can access them on the Winner’s page as well, and if you click on 2009, you’ll find me.

One thing I did notice when I looked down the list of past winners was the prevalence of Scottish writers. Five of the nine winners were Scots. The year I won it, I remember one review commented that the prize was always won by a Dundee writer, and this took the pleasure of the win away. In my case the comment wasn’t true because, although I base my crime series in Dundee, I don’t live there. However, when I looked down the list of previous winners the strange thing was that the first three were all based in Dundee. Number four lived in France, I was number five and live in Angus. Number six came from Wigan, and number seven from Dublin. Last year’s winner was from New York, and this year’s winner is well travelled, because although she lives on the Clyde coast, she grew up in Dublin and New York.

Since winning the prize I haven’t given much thought to the comment about all the winners being Dundonians. But thinking about it now I feel that this is actually a compliment. It means Dundee is full of talented writers, because I cannot imagine the judges will know the geographic location of the authors who submit entries.

Nicola's winning book
I can understand what Nicola is feeling right now, because it will be similar to my feelings back in 2009. A blend of excitement and disbelief. The feeling you are going to wake up the next day and it was all a dream. All I can say to Nicola is, ‘Enjoy it while it lasts, and if there are any snide comments in the reviews your book gets, ignore them. You know your book is good, the judges knew it was good, and now the readers will get their chance to find out how good it is.’

I can’t wait to read it.

Before you go, one of the runner ups to the Dundee Book Prize is offering her short listed book as a free ebook download today. I'm not sure how long this offer will be up there so I would advise you to check it out right now. The author is Elizabeth Kay, and the book is titled 'Beware of Men with Moustaches'. It looks like a cracking good read, and I've already downloaded my copy.

Chris Longmuir

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Murder Capital of Scotland

Dundee Police Headquarters

Last week’s Dundee Courier and Advertiser, the newspaper for the whole of the Tayside region, displayed a provocative headline – Dundee is Murder Capital of Scotland.

That was some statement. But as the writer of the Dundee Crime Series, it certainly divorces me from comparisons with Midsomer Murders. Not that my books were ever like this because my writing is considerably darker than the popular cosy crime series. However, when a writer chooses a specific town in which to set their murders, the body count is liable to go up.

So, what makes Dundee the murder capital of Scotland. Well, it’s nothing to do with the body count, and it’s all to do with statistics.

Apparently, between 2012 - 2013, there were 62 homicides in Scotland. Now, a prolific crime writer can easily manage to beat that figure in the area they write about. I’m sure Midsomer Murders’ body count is higher than that over the space of one series.

Of those 62 homicides, six occurred in Dundee – great word that ‘occurred’, it really doesn’t do justice to the bloodthirsty nature of the crimes. Six doesn’t seem a lot to warrant giving Dundee the title of ‘murder capital’, but here’s where statistics come into play. It’s all to do with population, you see. The lower the population the higher the percentage.

So, let’s compare it with Glasgow where there were 19 murders over the same period. Surely this should have made Glasgow, Scotland’s murder capital. Glasgow, however, has a far higher population than Dundee, so the 19 murders only equated to 3.19 murders per 100,000 people. Can you have .19 of a murder? And what happened to the other .81? Ah well such things are beyond me. Anyway, to get back to the point. Dundee’s measly six murders equated to 4.05 per 100,000 people. There’s those pesky numbers below the decimal point again. Ah, well, I’m not going to worry about that this time.

Funnily enough, both Edinburgh and Aberdeen only had two murders each. Ian Rankin’s going to be out of a job. But me, as long as I keep setting my books in Dundee, Scotland’s murder capital, I can’t go wrong.

Check out the Dundee Crime series when you have a minute, because there are more murders in my writing territory than there are in Ian Rankin’s.

Chris Longmuir