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Melbourne writer wins award at British crime-writing awards

Melbourne writer Mark Brandi has won the Debut Dagger at the British Crime Writers Association awards. Photo: Eddie JimIt was one of those accidents: the car hit, the driver ran, and Mark Brandi was sent flying from his bike as he zoomed down Brunswick Street. It mangled his shoulder, but concentrated his mind.
Nanjing Night Net

“I came to the conclusion that I needed to put a bit more on the line and give my writing a good go. Financially it was not the best decision.” But for his writing it has proved a blessing and this week Brandi was named the winner of the British Crime Writers Association’s Debut Dagger for an unpublished manuscript.

He was having breakfast when he saw on Twitter that he had won. Since the short-listing and in the 24 hours after the announcement there has been plenty of interest from publishers overseas and in Australia.

“I don’t want to jinx it,” he said. “The size of the publisher is immaterial to me; I want it to find a good home where the publisher is passionate about the story.”

Wimmera focuses on two young boys, best friends, and the impact on them when a stranger comes to the small outback town where they live.

“It’s about the way the town doesn’t see things in plain sight and a sequence of events leads up to an act of vengeance,” he said. “It’s set in an Australian rural context and I never had the international market in mind. That’s part of what’s so surprising about the award and also the interest from overseas – that there are publishers who would be willing to take a distinctly Australian story.”

Brandi was born in Italy, but his parents brought him and his three brothers to country Victoria. He says he always felt something of an outsider, allowing him a distance from which better to observe the oddities of Australian rural life.

Despite the fact that he studied criminal justice, worked as a corrections adviser for the former state police minister Tim Holding and has three older brothers involved in law-enforcement, he didn’t set out to write a crime novel.  “It just sort of infused my writing.”

But he was interested in the social context of crime: “On reflection, some of the books that interest me such as The Stranger by Camus and more recently some of Helen Garner’s work you have a crime as the central point of the story but it’s really how society and community react around that. That’s really what I was interested in exploring.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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