Literary prize success for Dundee graduates
University of Dundee creative writing graduate Daniel Shand has won one of the UK’s most prestigious prizes for a first novel.
Daniel, from Kirkcaldy, has won the Betty Trask Prize for his debut novel Fallow. The prestigious £10,000 prize, awarded for a first novel of ‘outstanding literary merit’ by an author under the age of 35, was presented at the Society of Authors’ annual ceremony in London.
The news comes in the same week that fellow creative writing graduate Claire MacLeary has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish crime fiction.
Fallow (published by Sandstone Press) tells of the relationship between two brothers bound by a terrible crime. It is a tense and darkly comic thriller, lauded by fellow Scottish author Alan Warner as “a brilliant, unpredictable road novel.”
Daniel credits the University of Dundee’s MLitt in Writing Practice and Study with setting him on the road to success. He said, “I am delighted and incredibly proud that Fallow was selected by the judging panel. Dundee was where it all started. Writing in a workshop setting gave me the perfect foundation for my work.”
Claire’s debut thriller Cross Purpose (published by Saraband/Contraband) has been longlisted for The McIlvanney Prize – the Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2017. It joins books on the longlist by some of the biggest names in crime fiction, including Val McDermid and Ian Rankin.
Her novel, set in Aberdeen, features an unlikely crime-fighting partnership of two middle-aged women and has been heralded as Scotland’s answer to Happy Valley.
Claire, originally from Glasgow, said, “Willie McIlvanney was a literary giant and the most unassuming of men. To be mentioned in the same sentence is an honour. For my writing to be judged worthy of inclusion in this list is beyond thrilling!”
The winner of the McIlvanney Prize will be announced at the opening reception of this year’s Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival, which takes place in Stirling in September. The award recognises excellence in Scottish crime writing.
Hoping to follow in Daniel and Claire’s footsteps will be students on the University of Dundee’s new course launched this year- the MLitt in Crime Writing and Forensic Investigation designed for anyone who has ever wanted to write a crime novel. The course is unique to the UK and provides students with modules in creative writing, the history of forensic science and the inner workings of a crime investigation.
Professor Kirsty Gunn, director of the University of Dundee’s Writing Practise & Study MLitt Programme, said, “It doesn’t surprise me that our Writing Practice and Study students are achieving such success. Our programme is distinctive from all others in the UK so it stands to reason that our graduates are distinctive too. I am delighted for Claire and Dan and look forward to news of their ongoing success.”
Other recent University of Dundee creative writing graduate successes include publication of the novels Beneath the Skin by Sandra Ireland and Dark Star and Metronome by Oliver Langmead.