The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)
Philippa Gerrard spoke to Scottish crime novelist Tony Black to find out more about the return of the notorious Gus Dury
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Tony Black. The award-winning Scottish journalist and crime writer certainly left readers hanging after a nearly 10-year hiatus between novels in his much-loved Gus Dury series.
But after a stint in Australia and some time spent in Ireland, Tony was eventually drawn back to his home in Edinburgh just over a year ago.
Spending the best part of a decade away from the city meant that upon his return, Tony began to see Scotland’s capital in a new light.
He noticed quirks and changes that had previously passed him by, and soon enough he felt as though a shadow was following him throughout the city.
It was his old friend Gus Dury, ready to be resurrected for another gritty crime novel.
Tony happily obliged. Here, he told Philippa Gerrard more about his latest novel, Wrecked.
• Your last Gus Dury novel was released back in 2010. Did you feel like you needed a break?
I’d been writing for the Scotsman in Edinburgh and they were getting rid of some staff at the time so I decided to take voluntary redundancy. I’d had enough of living in Edinburgh and writing about Edinburgh constantly. I felt like I was dragging around a ranting and raving alcoholic in my mind in the form of Gus Dury. I decided to move to Melbourne in Australia for a bit and it was just the break I needed to forget about him. When I came back I went to Ireland then to Ayr and later spent a few years on the Isle of Arran. By the time I came back to Edinburgh I had a fresh perspective on the place. I’d become immune to it before, but now I could see it all over again with new eyes.
• Can you tell us a little more about the plot of Wrecked?
Gus has cleaned up his act a bit. He’s gone back to journalism but it’s not really what he thought it would be anymore. Because he’s bored with his job he ends up getting persuaded into investigating a missing persons case. On the surface it seems simple enough – an easy paycheck for him. But somehow it never is and he finds himself in over his head and involved with Edinburgh gangsters and all sorts.
• The Gus Dury books are all focused around Edinburgh. Do you stay faithful to real names and places throughout? It’s more or less all real places. There are a couple of fictional spots but it’s mostly all real-life Edinburgh with a touch of East Lothian. Writing about real places is a hard line to tread. Readers sometimes get in touch with the most ridiculous observations, like “why was he going that way to get there?” or “you know, he should have taken the number 26 bus not the number such-and-such because it’s more direct…” So I try to strike a fine balance.
• Did you always want to be a writer? Yeah, I decided from a young age that I wanted to be a novelist. But I ended up going into journalism because it seemed like the only thing I could do that I could actually make a living at. It wasn’t until I was a young journalist and interviewed the very successful Australian author Bruce Courtenay that I went back to the idea of being a writer. During the interview I told him I’d written a few books myself but that they were gathering dust under my bed. He asked how many I’d written and I said five. He told me to write one more as the average author gets published on their sixth attempt. So I did, and he was right. My sixth book was picked up by one of the biggest publishers in the world, Random House.
• It took 10 years to write this latest instalment in the Gus Dury series. Do you see another one in the pipeline?
I don’t know if there will be another one. Gus really gets into my head in a way that other characters I’ve written about just don’t seem to. And sometimes, when you write a series of novels, you can get a bit tired of the characters. But I surprised myself actually with this book, I enjoyed writing it. Usually I’ve got two or three books on the go at any one time, so I’m kind of working on a few different things right now. I’m also not as set in the crime fiction genre as I was in the past. I’ve found that if you follow what your interests are and where your imagination leads you then it translates to the page pretty well.
Wrecked by Tony Black is out now and available from Waterstones, Amazon and other online retailers. Pick up a copy of next week’s your life to read the first in a series of extracts from the novel.
To win one of three copies of Wrecked by Tony Black, simply send your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org using the word Wrecked in the subject line