A 31-YEAR-OLD writer from Lewis who still lives with his parents and whose first novel was published just nine months ago has won a prestigious book award.
Malcolm Mackay beat titans of the crime writing world including Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Ann Cleeves to win the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year.
The writer scooped the trophy and £1,000 cheque at Bloody Scotland, Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival in Stirling on Saturday.
Mackay from Stornoway, won the award for his novel How A Gunman Says Goodbye, the second in a trilogy about Glasgow’s criminal underworld.
Judges praised his “inspiring story”, despite having only visited the city his novels are based in, Glasgow, a handful of times.
Bloody Scotland Festival manager Dom Hastings said: “The judges faced a challenging decision.
“Each of the shortlisted authors presented strong stories with creative characters, all reflecting the true nature of the Scottish literary award.
“Malcolm Mackay is a newcomer to the shortlist and we are delighted to see him at the top of his game with such an inspiring story.
“The wealth and diversity of contemporary Scottish crime writing is demonstrated by this exceptional shortlist, featuring writers at the top of their game, including Rankin and McDermid.”
Mackay said he was astounded to have won the award so early in his writing career, “I’m delighted and shocked.
“Given the quality of the rest of the shortlist, it’s a huge surprise.
“My first book came out in January and the second in July, so it’s very much been a whirlwind of new experiences.”
Mackay wrote his first novel, the gritty tale of a hired hitman in Glasgow’s seedy underworld, in secret in his bedroom at home in Stornoway while he recovered from ME.
An illness he was diagnosed with as a teenager and which prevented him from working or attending university.
He added:” The first book was written as a hobby, I messed around with it and didn’t take it too seriously.
“I wrote the book without telling anybody because I thought if I sit down and write it and it doesn’t work out I’ll never have to admit it.
“The whole thing is still such a new idea for me – the idea of being a writer. The experience is still new and it’s rather thrilling.”
He sent the book, The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter, to an agency in London in September 2011 and within two months had an agent and a three-book publishing deal worth £100,000.
His award-winning second novel, How A Gunman Says Goodbye, was only published in July 2013.
Mackay beat some of Scotland’s best-known writers to the award, including Rankin, who was nominated for Standing In Another Man’s Grave.
And Cleeves, whose shortlisted novel Dead Water is the latest in her Shetland series, the first of which was turned into a BBC drama.
The Deanston literary award is intended to raise the profile of Scottish crime writing across the board.
Crime fiction, crime non-fiction and anthologies of short crime stories are all eligible.
Charles Cumming claimed the award for 2012 with A Foreign Country.
The third part of Mackay’s Glasgow trilogy, The Sudden Arrival of Violence, will hit the shelves in January 2014.