I’ve just returned from the Bouchercon crime convention in Albany NY, USA, where George Easter of Deadly Pleasures magazine presented me with the Barry Award for Best Mystery Novel for “The Blackhouse”.
In previous years, there were separate awards for US and UK writers, but this is the first year that the awards were combined and books from both sides of the Atlantic were pitted against one another. It made winning the prize all the more special to know that “The Blackhouse” had been up against all the American big guns of this year, such as the phenomenal best seller “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn!
It was also special for me because, although “The Blackhouse” has won several major literature awards in France, where it was first published, this is the first prize for the English language version of the book.
It’s hard to believe, looking back, that this was the same book that was was turned down by every major publisher in the UK. I had set it aside and gone on to write other books, really believing “The Blackhouse” to be a lost cause.
I owe a special debt of gratitude to my French publisher, Danielle Dastugue of Le Rouergue, who saved the book from oblivion. Everything changed with one chance conversation we had when I mentioned “The Blackhouse” to her. She asked to read it, loved it and bought world rights. She had it translated into French and took the Frankfurt book fair by storm, with publishers from all over Europe bidding for the rights.
And it was the French version that was read by the book scout for award-winning young publishing house Quercus – a UK publisher that had not even existed when the book was first offered to British publishers. They immediately stepped in to buy the English language rights and were the ones to commission a further two books to create what has become known as The Lewis Trilogy.
The rest is now history. Quercus’ belief in the book was endorsed by the Richard and Judy Book Club who picked it for their Autumn 2011 selection. UK readers shared their enthusiasm, voting it their “Best Read” and turning the book into a major best-seller.
“The Blackhouse” was first published in the USA at the end of 2012. The paperback will be published there in Spring of 2014 by Quercus Inc., with “The Lewis Man” coming out in hard cover in October 2014.
Here is a video of me at the awards ceremony, receiving the Barry Award from George Easter. The video might not be very clear, but the audio quality is good enough to hear my speech.
And in other news, this week saw the publication in the UK of “Hebrides” the photo companion to the Lewis Trilogy. More than 200 beautiful pictures by photographer David Wilson illustrate the locations from the trilogy, alongside a text that I have written charting the history of the islands and my personal relationship with them.