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Second Dagger award from Crime Writers' Association for Shona's Damian Seeker series


By Margaret Chrystall


THE Conon Bridge-based writer Shona MacLean won a top crime fiction award last week at a ceremony in London.

Writing as SG MacLean, Shona won the Crime Writers’ Association Sapere Books Historical Dagger Award for her Seeker series title Destroying Angel.

Shona MacLean shown winning her award at the CWA dagger awards in London last week. Picture: Gary Strattman
Shona MacLean shown winning her award at the CWA dagger awards in London last week. Picture: Gary Strattman

Back at home this week, Shona explained how it felt to win: “I got a really warm feeling and can’t help smiling every time I think about it.

“I really hadn’t thought I had any chance of winning this time, so was just having a nice evening, happy to be on the short-list, no sense of tension when the envelope was being opened, and then when it was read out I couldn’t believe it and was a nervous wreck by the time I got to the podium!”

The CWA Daggers are the oldest crime book awards and were created in 1955.

The CWA Sapere Books Historical Fiction award. Picture: Gary Strattman
The CWA Sapere Books Historical Fiction award. Picture: Gary Strattman

At the ceremony on Thursday, Shona went up to collect her prize – a substantial dagger-shaped trophy – and joked: “I am totally astonished, thank you very much! If I had known about this I wouldn’t have packed another pair of shoes into an already crammed suitcase”

Holding up the dagger award, she said: “I think I’ll have to leave the shoes in London!”

The other nominated authors and books in the category were: The Quaker, by Liam McIlvanney (Harper Fiction), Smoke And Ashes, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker), The House On Half Moon Street, by Alex Reeve (Raven), Tombland, by CJ Sansom (Mantle), and Blood & Sugar, by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Mantle).

Destroying Angel is the second in the SG MacLean series about Oliver Cromwell’s ‘fixer’, investigator and captain of Cromwell’s guard Damian Seeker.

Shona MacLean
Shona MacLean

The first book in the series, The Seeker, first won the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association Historical Dagger for Shona. Follow-up The Black Friar was also shortlisted for the same award.

Shona said this week: “It’s the third time I’ve been to the awards, and they’ve got more lavish over the years.

“The first time, 10 years ago, it was an evening drinks reception, and the award was won by the late Philip Kerr, with whom I shared an editor. Now it’s a huge black tie dinner and you do see familiar faces often journalists or book bloggers you’ve got to know over the years as well as editors, agents and fellow authors.”

Shona revealed that she has just submitted the fifth – and for now, last – Damian Seeker book to her publisher.

“I’m currently re-arranging my study to start work properly on my next book, set in Cromarty in 1832.

Shona MacLean up for top crime award.
Shona MacLean up for top crime award.

“I found some old notebooks yesterday and realised I’ve been making notes for it for two and a half years, so I’m finally being able to get down to it which is really exciting for me.

“I think the dog and I will be going on a research trip there sometime next week!”

With her latest award being dagger-shaped, were there any problems getting it back to the Highlands – and has Shona found the perfect spot for it at home?

The Crime Writers' Association has made the annual awards since 1955.
The Crime Writers' Association has made the annual awards since 1955.

“It’s currently in the sitting room and will transfer to the dining room mantelpiece in a week or two, before making its way up to the study where the other one was relegated to when my daughter won a sports award and I wanted to put that on display instead!”

Security checks turned out not to be an issue on Shona's journey home with the award.

The writer said: “I took the direct King’s Cross-Inverness train home, so there was no faffing about at the airport or raised eyebrows about the dagger!”

More on Shona MacLean's books: https://www.quercusbooks.co.uk/contributor/s-g-maclean/ and https://thecwa.co.uk/



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