Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Chris Longmuir’s Life of Crime

How did I become a crime writer? Where do I start? Well, like all good stories it’s better to start at the beginning.

In the beginning there was a little girl who always had her head in a book and went about making stories up in her head, although she didn’t actually commit them to paper. Silly girl. But you see, she thought writers were magical people, and she was only ordinary, and ordinary girls didn’t have books on the book shop shelves.

Roll on a few years, and as a new mum she still had that urge to create stories, so she scraped and scrimped to buy a correspondence course in how to write (no computers then!). The only reason she could afford to do this was because each lesson was paid at a time. Two lessons in, and her mother-in-law commented “Who would want to do that?” referring to her desire to write. Thoroughly discouraged the young mum bought no more lessons – silly girl.

A short time later she wrote a short story for a Scottish Sunday newspaper, and she got a rave rejection. But she was so naive she just registered it as a rejection. Silly girl. It was many years before she understood that a rave rejection means that if the story was worked on in accordance to the advice, it would have sold. And yes, you’ve guessed it, that little girl was me.

Then life got in the way. Two children, and a career in social work took up a lot of time, but the urge never really went away, and when a night class was advertised for creative writing, followed shortly after by the establishment of a writers’ group, that urge became a reality. However, I have to admit my first attempts at writing were dire. But I’m stubborn and I don’t like giving up.

My first short story sold to People’s Friend, followed by several to My Weekly. I wrote a lot of articles, mainly historical, and sold to a variety of markets in the UK and the US. This kept me busy for about twenty years, but I still hankered to write a book.

But the one I wrote wasn’t a crime novel. It was a historical saga, A Salt Splashed Cradle. The RNA (Romantic Novelist Society) liked it so much they placed it with a publisher. Guess what? That was the year sagas went out of fashion and saga writers were being dropped by their publishers.

Not to be discouraged I changed genre, and wrote a historical crime novel, The Death Game. The publisher, Penguin liked this one, but not 110%. Probably 100% wasn’t good enough.

Nothing daunted, I turned to contemporary crime, and wrote Night Watcher, introducing DS Bill Murphy. He’s a hit with the ladies, but strangely, men like him as well. This was the first book of my Dundee Crime Series. No publishing nibbles for that one, despite the fact it won the Scottish Association of Writers Pitlochry Award.

Did I mention I’m stubborn and never give up. I started on Book two of the Dundee Crime Series, and wrote Dead Wood, again no nibbles when it went the rounds, but this book also won the Pitlochry Award, and it went on to hit the big time when it won the Dundee International Book Prize in 2009, and was published by Polygon.

The third book in the series is Missing Believed Dead, again with the popular DS Bill Murphy.

Now that my career as a writer was taking off I went on to publish A Salt Splashed Cradle, and The Death Game, and I’ve never looked back.

My life of crime is well and truly started.

Chris Longmuir


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