Glasgow-born writer lands first literary award

Peter May's winning novel Entry Island is partly set on the Isle of Lewis. Picture: Angus Blackburn/Sco

Peter May's winning novel Entry Island is partly set on the Isle of Lewis. Picture: Angus Blackburn/Sco

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BESTSELLING Scottish author Peter May has won his first ever UK literary award after landing the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year prize.

The Glasgow-born writer scooped the award this weekend at the Bloody Scotland crime writing ­festival.

The 62-year-old won for ­Entry Island, which is partly set on a remote island in modern-day Canada and partly set on the Isle of Lewis and 150 years earlier, during the Highland Clearances.

May was shortlisted for the award along with five other authors; Chris Brookmyre, Neil Broadfoot, Natalie Haynes, Louise Welsh and Nicola White.

May claimed the honour just weeks after revealing that the BBC had optioned the rights for The Blackhouse, The Lewis Man and The Chessmen.

He was turned down by a string of British publishers before finding French publisher Le Rouergue in 2009.

He has since sold more than a million copies in the UK alone. May, who now lives in France, said: “This is the first literary award that any of my books have won in the UK, despite several shortlistings, and I am absolutely delighted that it is the Deanston Scottish Crime Novel of the Year.

“It makes me immensely proud to be honoured by my ain folk in this way, and I owe a huge thanks to those Scottish readers who have propelled me to the top of the charts with their unerring support. I have just returned from an 18-day book tour of North America to promote the Lewis Trilogy and have frequently been asked why Scottish crime writers in particular are so successful.

“And I have come to the ­conclusion that it is all about confidence – the confidence that successful pioneers like William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin have given the rest of us to write about our home country, and the confidence ­inspired by the wonderful loyalty of Scottish readers and the backing of Scottish bookstores.

“Bloody Scotland is a manifestation of that confidence and this prize the ultimate seal of approval. I am humbled to receive it.”

The win for May came 12 months after an author from the Isle of Lewis, Malcolm Mackay, won the same prize for a novel set in Glasgow’s criminal underworld.

Former newspaper journalist May had his first novel, The Reporter, published at the age of 26. He was asked to adapt the novel, about a struggling newspaper, for BBC television and The Standard ran in 1978.

He went on to create the RAF drama Squadron, was a script editor on the long-running series Take The High Road and was co-creator of Gaelic soap Machair.

Magnus Linklater, one of the three-strong judging panel, said: “This is a very well-researched and constructed book set in a fully imagined world, with skilfully drawn parallels between the historic and contemporary narratives.”

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