Organised by the Shetland Noir book festival, the competition was to write a piece of crime fiction of between 500 and 1000 words in length which included the following ingredients: at least one corpse, or part thereof; one darkened room; at least one Nordic reference; blood; the misuse of at least one kitchen utensil; a telephone that rings unanswered. I love a challenge, and I very much enjoyed trying to think up a story that could fit all of those things into 1000 words, but I was very grateful that I had spent my holidays in Sweden - otherwise I am not sure what my Nordic reference would have been! (An ABBA record playing in the background, perhaps...)
Anyway, to cut a long story short: my story did win first prize. So I'm thrilled to say that I'll be going to Shetland Noir in a couple of weeks' time to receive the Jimmy Perez Trophy - named, of course, after the hero of the well-known series of crime novels by Ann Cleves, who very kindly sponsored the prize. As well as attending some of the festival events, I'm really looking forward to visiting Shetland itself, as I've never been there before. In fact, I've never been that far north before - I think the furthest north I have ever been in my life is Moscow! So I'll be sure to take loads of photographs and try to see as much as I can. Who knows - perhaps further stories will suggest themselves when I'm there? I'm very often inspired by interesting locations.
If you're interested in attending Shetland Noir, it takes place on 13th-15th November 2015 (how very apt, to have a crime fiction festival beginning on Friday 13th!) and the full programme can be found here: Shetland Noir programme
(Above) The beach at Haverdal: scene of gruesome fictional events...
PS Since writing this, I've been asked by a few people when and where they can read The Beach House. I've been talking to the organisers of Shetland Noir about it, and the current plan is to produce a printed pamphlet for the festival, comprising my winning story and the two stories that won second and third place. I don't yet know whether this will be something that non-attendees can get hold of, but if not I will ensure that my story becomes more widely available in due course, either online or in print.