Friday, July 24, 2020

McKinty scoops Theakston Prize for THE CHAIN

Last night in a virtual event held due to the cancellation of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, one of the world's best book festivals, Adrian McKinty added another prestigious award to his mantlepiece. His high-concept, standalone thriller THE CHAIN won the 2020 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, a prize for outstanding crime writing from British and Irish authors, ahead of a brilliant shortlist. 

Watching along last night, McKinty seemed genuinely shocked when his name was read out by Simon Theakston on the virtual session with McKinty's fellow nominees Jane Harper (THE LOST MAN), Helen Fitzgerald (WORST CASE SCENARIO), Oyinkan Braithwaite (MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER), Abir Mukherjee (SMOKE & ASHES), and Mick Herron (JOE COUNTRY).

As some readers of this blog will know, THE CHAIN has quite the fascinating backstory. McKinty was living in Melbourne for the past decade or so, and had earned himself a reputation as a superb writer within the crime writing community, and had won the Edgar Award and Ned Kelly Awards.

However, his readership was small, despite the critical praise and accolades. To the point where he'd announced he was giving up writing and going back to some sort of other work to help support his family - who'd also been evicted from their home in Melbourne. Some phone calls changed his life.

I interviewed Adrian about this for a feature in the New Zealand Herald last year, ahead of the release of THE CHAIN. Subscribers can read that piece here. Unfortunately it's behind a paywall (as 'premium content'), but you can read that story in lots of articles elsewhere too, including today.

After last night's announcement McKinty said: “I am gobsmacked and delighted to win this award. Two years ago, I had given up on writing altogether and was working in a bar and driving an uber, and so to go from that to this is just amazing. People think that you write a book and it will be an immediate bestseller. For twelve books, my experience was quite the opposite, but then I started this one. It was deliberately high concept, deliberately different to everything else I had written – and I was still convinced it wouldn’t go anywhere… but now look at this. It has been completely life changing.”

McKinty – previously nominated in 2011, 2014 and 2016 for his Sean Duffy series – will now receive £3,000 and an engraved oak beer cask, hand-carved by one of Britain’s last coopers from Theakstons Brewery.

Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said: “Looking at the titles in contention for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020, it is clear to see why crime fiction remains the UK’s genre of choice. Adrian McKinty is a writer of astonishing talent and tenacity, and we could not be more grateful that he was persuaded to give his literary career one last shot because The Chain is a truly deserving winner. Whilst we might be awarding this year’s trophy in slightly different, digital circumstances, we raise a virtual glass of Theakston Old Peculier to Adrian’s success – with the hope that we can do so in person before too long, and welcome everyone back to Harrogate next year for a crime writing celebration like no other.”

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