Friday, July 20, 2007

Scottish writer takes the UK 's biggest crime writing award

Orkney-born writer Allan Guthrie, published by one of Scotland ’s leading publishing houses Polygon (an imprint of Birlinn Ltd), has been awarded The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2007, for his novel, Two-Way Split. The decision was announced last night, (19 July 2007) at the opening event of the Theakstons Old Peculier Harrogate Crime Writing Festival. As the winner, Allan received £3,000 and a handmade, engraved beer barrel.

Allan, until last year a bookseller with Waterstone's, has lifted the award amidst fierce competition from the UK 's best crime writers. The writer, who now lives just outside Edinburgh in Portobello, has won with his first novel, published in paperback earlier this year. Two further novels have since been released and a fourth is due out next year.

The winning novel, Two-Way Split (Polygon) is set in the dead of winter. Robin Greaves, an armed robber whose wife has been sleeping with a fellow gang member, concocts a plan for revenge, but things go from bad to worse when the gang bungles a post office robbery. Soon they are stalked by the police, a dodgy pair of private eyes and a psycho with a vendetta, who may be the only one not look for a cut of the money. Infused with dark humour, the book is beautifully crafted, fast paced and ‘delectably nasty’.

A spokesperson for Polygon said ‘We are absolutely delighted. Allan’s writing is original and powerful and stands out from the crowd. Until last year he was an unpublished writer, working in a bookstore. Today he is one of the country’s brightest new stars.’

The shortlist for the award:
Dead Place by Stephen Booth
All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye by Christopher Brookmyre
Two Way Split by Allan Guthrie
The Death Ship of Dartmouth by Michael Jecks
Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride
Blood and Honey by Graham Hurley

Won by Mark Billingham in 2005 and Val McDermid in 2006, this is the only award of its kind to be voted for by the general public. Crime readers could vote in any branch of Waterstone’s in the UK or online and they did so in their thousands.

Allan Guthrie was born and raised in Orkney before moving to music school in Manchester . He now lives in Edinburgh and is married to Donna. In addition to his success with the Theakston Award, his first novel, TWO-WAY SPLIT, was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger. His second novel, KISS HER GOODBYE, was nominated for Edgar, Anthony and Gumshoe awards. His third, HARD MAN, has just been published. Allan is also a commissioning editor for PointBlank Press and a literary agent.

“Guthrie’s work stands up against the best the genre has to offer. His prose is clinically efficient, his storytelling consummate, his dialogue sparkles and snaps on the page, and his blend of black humour and breathless action is impossible to put down." – The Herald

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Harry Potter - no spoilers, I swear!

Yes, I'm a fan. No, I'm not looking at all the pirated pages online. I did read the reviews in the NY Times and the Baltimore Sun, which revealed more than they should have but not the ending, thank goodness.

I did enjoy this amusing story of a gentleman who had ordered his copy via, who apparently shipped the books out early. Upon finding the book on his doorstep on July 17, he did the truly American thing and put it up for sale on eBay, where it was purchased by an editor at Publishers Weekly for $250.

I Was An eBay Voldemort (A Hilarious Account Of Auctioning The Last "Harry Potter" Tome Alert)
by Will Collier

Wednesday evening, Atlanta — It all started about 24 hours ago, when I found a plain cardboard box on my doorstep. I was surprised to see my name on the label, as I wasn’t expecting anything this week. My surprise increased exponentially when I opened the package to find a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows within.

Read this story in its entirety.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Some housekeeping first: my family came with me and had fun in the big city so I surrendered my camera to my daughter; ergo, I have no pictures. I will be posting for the next few days covering the entire event. Anyone who's read my report from last year knows I like to ramble on and include lots of details, so keep checking back!

The second annual thriller writers’ convention was another huge success. Rumor has it 700 people attended, and judging from some of the standing-room-only panels, I’d say that sounds like a good number. I’m waiting for the official stats and will post them when verified. But for now, let’s start with the beginning.

Welcome to New York. I was lucky enough to catch the last day of the heatwave, following by a torrential downpour. While waiting in the taxi line outside the hotel, I ran into Shane Gericke (pronounced "yerkey") who is a sweetheart who leaves his dark side to his thrillers. He bought an umbrella from the street salesmen who seem to appear out of the sidewalk when the rains start, and hoofed it to a "cage match" with a couple of other authors at a nearby historic library site. He told me it was raining so hard that within a couple of blocks the rain was coming in through the top of the umbrella. On the bright side, after the rain stopped it cooled off and we had glorious weather for the rest of the weekend.


The convention opened with a mini-pre-convention, if you will, called CraftFest. This was a day of workshops for writers, featuring some of the biggest names in the business sharing their writing secrets, where they get their ideas, how they got that first agent, that first book deal, etc. Their craft. I spoke to a wide variety of writers who attended, including a screenwriter-turning-novelist who was about halfway through her first book, a couple of writers with their first books just out, a couple more who have several books out (although not necessarily thrillers,) and a couple of well established thriller writers. I got some interesting feedback and as long as I don’t tell who told me what, I’m sure no one will mind if I share what I learned.

Best panel of the day was unanimous: “Eureka! Developing great Thriller ideas,” given by the NY Times bestselling author, Tess Gerritsen. When I asked which was the best panel of the day, Tess was mentioned by every single person I asked. She was extremely well prepared and organized, and shared what she knew along with the caveat that just because it works for her, that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. Nonetheless, everyone was scrambling like mad to take down every word.

A close second was “Opening Thrill: How to hook readers and keep them turning pages,” given by James Rollins. I’ve seen Jim on enough panels to know that he’s completely entertaining, funny as hell and always prepared, so I was not surprised to learn that he was very organized and shared lots of good information. Honorable mention goes to Vince Flynn’s panel on “Self-Publishing: Fabulous or Foolhardy?” and David Morrell’s “Who’s in Charge Here? Find your subject matter and your voice through self-psychoanalysis.” I heard the Lee Child presentation, “The Reacher Way: Creating the continuing Thriller series character” was packed, but the few people I spoke to said that while his talk was interesting and entertaining, it would probably have been a better fit for ThrillerFest proper rather than CraftFest.

Everyone raved about “Dangerous Vegetables and the Simple Truth,” the agent and editor luncheon. Getting to spend some time with editors and agents seemed to make everyone’s day, and was apparently quite the learning experience. The M.J. Rose bonus panel, “Buzz Your Thriller” was also a hit. I was told by more than one writer that M.J. really knows how to teach writers how to market and publicize their books to their best advantage.

The first auction was held at CraftFest for the writers in attendance. About $9300 was raised for literacy, including approximately $1500 for the opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with Lee Child, cocktails included.

So what are writers looking for in CraftFest 2008? They would have liked to submit writing samples in advance, especially to the agents and editors, for better feedback. They would like fewer, more in depth panels. Several people mentioned that they would have preferred just one morning session and one afternoon session that would run for a few hours instead of just 50 minutes, leaving lots of time for questions and answers. It was also pointed out that just because someone is a NY Times bestselling author, or isn’t one, has little bearing on how well they teach, and that should be taken into account as well.

The bottom line? Every single person I spoke with felt that CraftFest was an excellent program and well worth their time and money. Well done, ITW!


I know there are a lot of books floating around that need a good home. If you have some, and were wondering what to do with them, how about this idea from J.A. Konrath, author of the Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels series, including the just released DIRTY MARTINI.

This is from Joe's newsletter:

>>Believe it or not, there's a JA Konrath Library in Iraq. A friend of mine is stationed there, and I put out a call to send him books for his fellow troops. They've gotten several hundred so far, but those were mostly by Nora Roberts. If you have some extra books lying around, send them to:

Soldiers of C Co / 163 MI Bn
c/o 1SG Hansen
COB Speicher
APO AE 09393

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